CST Blog

Antisemitism worldwide in 2009

12 April 2010

The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, based at Tel Aviv University, has issued its report (pdf) on antisemitism around the world in 2009. The report notes:

The year in the wake of Operation Cast Lead was the worst since monitoring of antisemitic manifestations began two decades ago, in terms of both major antisemitic violence and the hostile atmosphere generated worldwide by the mass demonstrations and verbal and visual expressions against Israel and the Jews. The flow of materials to the Institute was so great and so continuous that the decrease in antisemitic activities in 2008 from 2007 became a thing of the past. The intensity and nature of the wave that began in January 2009 testified to pre-planned mobilization among radicals from the left and among Muslim immigrant communities, resulting in a wellcoordinated onslaught which employed clear antisemitic motifs in order to de-legitimize the State of Israel and the Jewish people as a single entity.

The number of violent incidents recorded by the Institute in 2009, 1,129, represented an increase of more than 100 percent over the 2008 figure of 559. In addition, many more hundreds of threats, insults, graffiti signs and slogans and demonstrations featuring virulently antisemitic content were registered, sometimes resulting in violence. Since our policy is to document cases that show clear antisemitic content and intention, hundreds of instances of targeting of Jewish individuals or property, where there was no clear evidence of antisemitic motive, are not included. It should also be noted that many Jews prefer not to file complaints with the police or community organizations and monitoring bodies, fearing reprisal or doubting the outcome. Thus, the number of incidents, both violent and verbal, might actually be far higher than the figures presented here.

Although it is essential to distinguish between violent and verbal manifestations of antisemitism, there is little doubt that they feed off one another, provoking an escalation in both. n arson attack on a synagogue may follow threats painted on its walls, for instance, or Jews may be assaulted in the wake of a demonstration marked by incendiary rhetoric against them.

The report shows sharp increases in antisemitic incidents in several European countries, including the UK, France, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Spain. This phenomenon, whereby antisemitic incidents rise and fall in parallel in different European (and other) countries, has been seen several times before, for example in 2006 during the war in Lebanon, or in October 2000 at the start of the second Palestinian Intifada. (The report uses CST's antisemitic incidents data for the UK, although it uses a different system of classification to CST, producing different numbers for violent incidents, for example).


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