A new Tel Aviv University study found a record-high number of reports of antisemitic activity throughout the world in 2021, much of it tied to the bloody conflict between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip in May of that year and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Published on the eve of Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, the annual report on antisemitism worldwide for 2021 does not convey good news and reflects the American findings of the Anti-Defamation League report that also found the highest levels of reported antisemitic events since the organization started tracking the issue in the 1970s.
The Tel Aviv University report looked at the largest Jewish communities around the world, outside of Israel, finding increases in antisemitic incidents in nearly all of them from 2020 and 2019, with the exception of Italy and Argentina, which saw a moderate decrease and no change, respectively. However, the study was unable to calculate the levels of antisemitism in two countries with some of the largest Jewish populations — Russia and Brazil — as their governments’ official tallies of antisemitic events were more than likely false.
The study’s authors, who worked on the report over the course of six months, identified two specific catalysts for antisemitic acts over the past year: Israel’s conflict with Gaza in May, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also noted a broader trend around the world driving the rise in antisemitism — the strengthening of the “radical populist right and the anti-Zionist radical left.”
Social Media is an element that helped spread hatred against Jews. Many people, bound to their own houses because of the lockdown, had more time to themselves to spend on the computer and to go looking and reacting on social media. Some said it was the Chinese, others claimed that it was the Jews spreading the Coronavirus. There were also activists opposed to vaccinations and other safety measures comparing themselves to victims of the Holocaust. In the report, Tel Aviv University professor Dina Porat said the latter phenomenon trivialized the Holocaust and represented a
“complete distortion of the meaning of Nazi crimes and the lessons humanity should have learned from those crimes.”
Porat added that Holocaust comparisons should also not be considered innocent as they frequently come alongside more overtly antisemitic content.
“The comparisons were often accompanied by accusations against Jews for allegedly being the wind in the virus’ sails. For example, a Greek newspaper published a photo of Albert Bourla, the Pfizer CEO and son of Auschwitz survivors from Greece, alongside that of Joseph Mengele, as if to say that both experiment on human beings,”
The report found that the number of antisemitic attacks nearly doubled in the United Kingdom, from 97 assaults in 2020 to 173 last year; that the number rose in France by more than a third in 2021 compared to the year before, from 44 to 60; and that the total number of antisemitic incidents in Germany rose to its highest level in recent years, to 3,028 in 2021, compared to 2,351 in 2020 and 2,032 in 2019.
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