Antisemitism spikes in Czech Republic: Near 200% increase since 2015

Antisemitic hate speech on the Internet accounts for 92.8% of recorded incidents; country still safer for the Jewish community than others in Central and Western Europe.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Czech Republic praying (photo credit: PETR DAVID JOSEK/REUTERS)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Czech Republic praying
Antisemitism spiked by 189% in the Czech Republic between 2015 and 2018, reaching 347 incidents in 2018 up from 126 in 2015.
A report released by the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic (FZO) on Wednesday night explained that victims of violent acts do not often report such incidents, “so it is likely that there is a higher rate of antisemitic attacks.”
Despite this, the report explained, “violent antisemitic incidents in the Czech Republic continue to be rare.”
Last year, two cases of physical aggression related to antisemitism were recorded, while there were three cases of defacement of Jewish property using antisemitic inscriptions and symbols.
In addition, there were nine incidents that fell in the category of threats of violence, harassment, intimidation or insulting a particular person because of their actual or suspected Judaism.
The FZO report stated that the biggest rise of antisemitic incidents was on the Internet.
The number of published antisemitic articles, social network posts, anonymous comments and discussion posts has been on the increase over the last few years.
“Antisemitic hate speech on the Internet accounts for 92.8% of recorded incidents [in the Czech Republic],” the report said. “Traditionally, antisemitic posts appeared on websites of the extreme Right, on anti-elite websites, or in the speeches of activists supporting... the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement.”
“Propaganda and disinformation platforms, often from the so-called Pro-Kremlin media and social media, generated 36% of all recorded incidents in 2018, and are a prominent ideological basis for antisemitic posts in the Czech Republic,” FZO said in its findings.
The research found that in 64% of cases, “there were cases of false, vulgar or stereotypical claims about Jews; it is very common to spread conspiracy theories about the myth of world Jewry, it’s alleged control over the media, the economy, governments and other public institutions.”
There were also cases of new antisemitism, in which Jews were collectively blamed for the actions of Israel. This accounted for about 29% of all incidents, the report found.
The Jewish organization said that the majority of incidents were reported in May 2018, when antisemitic manifestations were mainly influenced by several incidents taking place in Israel, including the movement of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, “and the subsequent unrest in the Gaza Strip.”
Antisemitic incidents mentioned in the report include a Jewish man being asked by a guard to remove his Star of David before entering a club in Prague, and an anonymous antisemitic letter that was sent to the Zlin theater prior to the opening of a Jewish-related play, in which the writer said that Jews were pigs, “are unwanted immigrants,” and that “the pogroms against Jews were justified and done in self-defense.”
In a third incident that was described, a Jewish man who was in a bar in Liberec was accosted by someone who called for Israel to be wiped from the face of the map, and who yelled “Heil Hitler.”
The antisemitism report comes almost six months after the lower house of the Czech Parliament adopted a resolution that recognizes the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.
Despite the number of incidents, the Czech Republic remains a safe country for the Jewish community, in comparison with other Central European countries and Western Europe. “Antisemitic manifestations, as demonstrated by the analysis of recorded incidents, are in most cases limited to the Internet,” FZO said.