2021 was the most antisemitic year in the last decade - antisemitism report

WZO and the Jewish agency released the grim statistics gathered in their annual Antisemitism Report, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day.

 A handmade Nazi flag with a Jewish Star of David was hung up near the entrance to Homesh (photo credit: HOMESH YESHIVA)
A handmade Nazi flag with a Jewish Star of David was hung up near the entrance to Homesh
(photo credit: HOMESH YESHIVA)

Last year was the most antisemitic year in the last decade, with at least 10 antisemitic incidents happening on average every single day, according to the annual Antisemitism Report published by the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency.

While the average number of incidents was over 10 a day, the real number is likely much higher since so many incidents go unreported.

The main antisemitic incidents were graffiti, desecration, vandalism and propaganda, but physical and verbal violence still comprised almost a third of them. At least there were no antisemitic murders last year.

A number of events occurred throughout the year that seemed to coincide with spikes in antisemitic incidents.

This correlation was seen especially during the month of May, which included many high-tension events. This included Shavuot, Eid al-Fitr, Nakba Day, Jerusalem Day, Al-Quds Day, the escalating debate regarding the eviction of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, the trend of antisemitic violence being shown on TikTok, Jewish-Arab riots in Israel’s mixed cities and, of course, Operation Guardian of the Walls, the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

 Nelson Mandela’s eldest grandson, Mandla Mandela, addresses a protest in Johannesburg by Palestinian supporters calling for Lalela Mswane to withdraw from the Miss Universe pageant in Israel. (credit: SIPHIWE SIBEKO/REUTERS) Nelson Mandela’s eldest grandson, Mandla Mandela, addresses a protest in Johannesburg by Palestinian supporters calling for Lalela Mswane to withdraw from the Miss Universe pageant in Israel. (credit: SIPHIWE SIBEKO/REUTERS)

Each of these events was associated with a notable rise in antisemitic incidents.

Abroad, especially in Europe, another factor also came into play. During the month of May, most countries in Europe lifted their COVID-19 lockdowns.

While the COVID-19 pandemic was already known in 2020 to be associated with a rise in antisemitism regarding conspiracies, 2021 saw this manifest in a new way regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

Conspiracy theorists latched on to prior theories about the pandemic and associated the vaccine with it.

Others took to comparing the idea of vaccine mandates – meaning that getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 would be made obligatory – to the policies of Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.

This was seen frequently in protests in the public sphere, which saw many people wear yellow stars to highlight the supposed comparison.

“The use of these symbols has created a worrying phenomenon called ‘trivialization of the Holocaust,’ whose main purpose is to diminish the dimensions of the Holocaust and its historical uniqueness and importance,” the report said.

SO WHICH places were the most antisemitic in 2021?

Europe, by far, where nearly half of all antisemitic incidents took place.

North America followed close behind, with the US having 30% of all incidents, though both Canada and Australia saw “a drastic increase” in the number of antisemitic incidents.

In the US, New York saw a doubling of antisemitic incidents, numbering 503 in 2021 compared to 252 in 2020. In the first six months of 2021, Los Angeles saw a 59% increase compared to the same period in 2020.

The UK saw half as many more in the first six months, recording 1,308 reported incidents compared to 875 the previous year. In this same period, the number of incidents in Austria doubled compared to 2020.

Incidents in Germany also rose, with almost as many in the first 10 months of 2021 (1,850) as all of 2020 (1,909). Over the past four years, antisemitic crimes especially spiked in the German states that were formerly part of East Germany.

By contrast, antisemitic incidents in Russia continued to decline, according to the local Jewish community.

“Jewish communities around the world face the challenges of a rising and ever-changing antisemitism,” Raheli Baratz-Rix, the head of the department for combating antisemitism and enhancing resilience at the WZO, wrote in the report.

Baratz-Rix added that despite the damning statistics from around the world, there is cause for optimism due to widespread adoption or endorsement of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, laws passed on Holocaust education and the ongoing “war on BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement].”

“It is the duty of every country to provide its citizens with security and to protect them in every event that takes place on its land, including the Jewish community,” she said. “At the same time, the State of Israel will always continue to be an anchor for every Jew who desires it.”

The annual report by WZO and the Jewish Agency, released ahead of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust on January 27, is a grim reminder that despite the horrors of the Holocaust, antisemitism is still alive and kicking going into 2022.