A man wearing a kippa waits for the start of an anti-Semitism demo at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate September 14, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
While violent incidents of antisemitism dropped 12% worldwide in 2016, US campuses saw a surge of 45% in antisemitism, according to data released on Sunday.
The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with the European Jewish Congress, released its Annual Report on Antisemitism for 2016 during a press conference held at the university.
A total of 361 antisemitic violent incidents were reported worldwide, down from 410 in 2015.
The decrease in the number of all types of antisemitic incidents, as monitored by communities and governmental agencies, is most evident in France, where the interior minister announced a 61% decrease in incidents, as well as in Belgium, which witnessed a 60% decline.
The report credited this drop to increased security measures, including the heavy presence of soldiers and police outside Jewish institutions, as well as the fact that an increasing number of Jews avoid appearing in public spaces while easily identifiable as Jews, for example by no longer wearing kippot on the street or in public transportation.
In contrast, English-speaking countries saw a rise in antisemitic incidents: The UK saw an increase of 11%, though the rate of violent incidents decreased by 13%, while antisemitic incidents in Australia increased by 10% last year.
One of the most startling findings is a 45% increase in antisemitic incidents on US campuses, which the report stated have become hotbeds for Jew-hatred, often under the guise of anti-Zionism and due to increased pro-Palestinian movements, such as BDS on campuses.
Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said that while there was a substantial decrease in violent attacks against Jews, the motivation has not lessened, as witnessed by an increase in attacks in less-protected arenas.
“While the number of antisemitic incidents, especially violent ones, has decreased worldwide in 2016, the enemies of the Jewish people have found new avenues to express their antisemitism – with significant increase of hate online and against less protected targets, like cemeteries,” he said via a prerecorded video message at the press conference.
“This means that, in fact, the motivation has not declined and the sense of security felt by many Jewish communities remains fragile.”
The data indicated that while there was a significant decrease in incidents involving the use of weapons and arson, unprotected cemeteries and memorials continued to be targets.
Furthermore, the report noted that the discourse on the Internet has become more and more threatening and violent, reflecting hatred toward Jews and other minorities.
The report cited a recent study conducted by the World Jewish Congress, which found that an antisemitic message was posted every 83 seconds worldwide in 2016, the majority on Twitter.
“Hate against Jews is not really dropping,” Kantor emphasized, saying that it has just moved into the virtual world, where enforcement is lacking.
The report also found that the recent immigration of some 2.5 million refugees to Europe did not contribute to an increase in antisemitism, despite a fear that it would do so.
Instead, the study noted that the far-right leaders in Europe, as well as to some extent in the US, have turned their focus to immigration issues, mainly targeting the Muslim refuge-seekers, with many of these leaders denouncing antisemitic statements.
Despite this, antisemitic activity is still popular among these parties’ supporters.
The report also warned that antisemitism should no longer be seen as coming only from the far Right, and that while violent incidents by members of the extreme Left remained low, verbal antisemitism and anti-Zionism abounded.
“We are now witnessing that the targeting of Jews is no longer the sole domain of the far Right. The far Left is now using the same messages, tactics and agenda,” Kantor said. “Indeed, some who describe themselves as liberal and progressive are in league with the most regressive movements, ideologies and regimes.”