The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) released its list of the top ten worst antisemitic incidents of 2022 on Thursday, in which the Jewish human rights organization described it as "a tremendous increase of Jew-hatred that infected mainstream culture, academics, and media across the world."
SWC Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Rabbi Abraham Cooper stated that "politicians offer words of solace to Jewish victims but failed to take effective measures to curb the attacks, while UN diplomats, cultural and academic elite often legitimize hatred of the Jewish state.”
So who made the cut?
Telegram, with more than half a billion users, is one of the world’s most popular messaging apps. Known for its encrypted messaging and lack of content moderation, Telegram has become a hub for antisemitic groups and movements.
SWC researchers have identified over 400 Telegram groups and channels, including the racist, anti-Semitic manifesto authored by the terrorist who murdered 51 people in New Zealand in 2019.
According to the SWC, Telegram channels brazenly promote antisemitic tropes such as the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” as well as stereotypical images of hooked-nosed Jews along with exhortations to murder them. Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups openly organize on this platform, sharing propaganda to recruit new people to their movements.
Further, SWC complaints to Telegram officials about antisemitic content have fallen on deaf ears, the center says.
Black Hebrew Israelite Movement
Extremist group “Black Hebrew Israelites” have been active since the early 20th Century and rose in prominence in the 1980s, though rapper Kanye West and Brooklyn Nets basketball player Kyrie Irving brought the fringe group back into the spotlight in late 2022.
The controversial West was at the forefront of numerous antisemitic controversies, such as when he tweeted that he would go “death con 3” on Jewish people – which led to his suspension from social media platform Twitter – or claiming that Jewish people were impostors claiming the position of the true Jews.
Irving’s controversy arose when he posted a link to an antisemitic film on Oct. 27. After failing to produce an apology that NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai deemed acceptable, he was handed a multi-game suspension.
Both of the controversies centered around the Black Hebrew Israelite Movement’s claim that they are the true Jews – the “chosen people” of the bible – whereas the Jews of today are “impostors” who stole the identity of the “rightful” black Jews – a core tenet of Black Hebrew Israelite ideology.
Antisemitism on college campuses
Instances of antisemitism on US college campuses have been on the rise over the last several years – particularly as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement continues to solidify its roots in universities around the country.
Back in July, the City University of New York (CUNY) was sued by The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) for ignoring "a sustained pattern of antisemitic activity."
Antisemitic incidents detailed in the lawsuit include nails being found in the tires of a Jewish professor’s car, students using class time to accuse Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and a Jewish professor finding swastikas carved in her office and her keyboard drenched in urine.
Elsewhere on the east coast, Professor Noura Erakat delivered a lecture at the University of Illinois supporting an armed campaign to destroy the state of Israel. The lecture was sponsored by the university’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Meanwhile on the country’s west coast, UC Berkeley student groups vowed to “never invite a speaker who supports Zionism or the State of Israel” in an amendment to their bylaws in October, claiming the move was necessary for “the safety and welfare of Palestinian students on campus.”
Attacks against Jewish people in major global cities
Attacks on Orthodox Jews in New York City have skyrocketed and the highest they've been in decades. Attacks have especially been frequent in Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn, where over 1 million Jews reside.
63% of religious-based hate crimes have been against Jews - who only make up about 2.4% of the US population. The issue has grown in urgency outside of the United States as well.
Abdullah Qureshi, 30, assaulted three people within a two-hour period in the Stamford Hill area in England in November in the most notable of numerous antisemitic incidents that took place in the United Kingdom in 2022.
Elsewhere in Europe, a German-Iranian man was arrested on suspicion of committing arson at a synagogue in the city of Bochum in Germany on November 18 following two antisemitic attacks at Berlin metro stations in September – with one attacker targeting a rabbi and his son and another targeting a young man.
Incident at Congregation Beth Israel
The beginning of 2022 saw an armed man taking four Jewish hostages at Congregation Beth Israel in a small synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. The foreign terrorist reportedly traveled thousands of miles to target the synogogue, according to SWC.
Shortly after the incident, a special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas field office said that the hostage-taker was focused on an issue “not specifically related to the Jewish community” – a claim that confused and angered many Jewish leaders.
Victims of the attack vehemently disagreed with the FBI’s assessment, with Congregation Beth Israel hostage Jeffrey Cohen telling MSNBC’s Chris Jansing "He was not your typical attacker who came in and [said] 'I just want to kill all the Jews” in January.
“That was not him. He came to the Jews because he bought into these very dangerous stories that the Jews control the world, and the Jews control the government, and the banks, and the media.”
Iran's Center for Jewish Studies
More than 1,000 antisemitic essays were published by Iran's Center for Jewish Studies that contained historic hatred of Jews, and anti-Israel screeds "on behalf of the nefarious Khamenei regime," the SWC said.
Among the anti-Israel screeds includes the "Blood Libel," which alleges that the roots of “child-killing” by Zionists in Palestine lies in the Torah. Another statement alleges that Jews had killed Mohammed and his daughter Fatima. Further, Iran's Center for Jewish Studies posted over 1,000 conspiracy theory-based articles purporting that Jews are responsible for pedophilia, drug trafficking, prostitution, and all Iran’s problems.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel had committed "50 Holocausts" against the Palestinians, a statement which German prosecutors opened a four-month investigation into.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed outrage at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s claim in August – a day after he stood silently as Abbas spoke.
“I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,” Scholz tweeted. “For us Germans in particular, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.”
UN Human Rights Council
The SWC said that the UN Human Rights Council had compared Israel to Nazis, delegitimizing Israel while legitimizing Palestinian terrorism.
Italian lawyer Francesca Albanese was appointed earlier this year as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories. The SWC describes Albanese as a "walking anti-Israel encyclopedia," stating that she has expressed sympathy for Palestinian terrorist groups.
Attaining the number one spot is the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, Ye, who "fueled antisemitic hate crimes and normalized anti-Jewish hate speech," said SWC Founder Rabbi Marvin Hier.
Ye's antisemitic rhetoric also goes in hand with anti-Jewish conspiracies spread on social media, among the most popular are that Jewish people are greedy, control Hollywood and the media, and that they "are in a conspiracy of slavery and/or purposeful exploitation of Black people."
West has also claimed that a "Jewish doctor" tried to medicate him to death, told Alex Jones that he "likes Hitler," and spent a large portion of October and November spewing anti-Jewish hatred on any podcast, publication or social media website that would listen.
Ye then had dinner with former US president Donald Trump and white supremacist Nick Fuentes. The former US president also tweeted in October that no US president had done more for the Jewish state than he has, also stating that "evangelicals are far more appreciative of this than the people of the Jewish faith, especially those living in the US." In addition, he also said in the post that "US Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel." Trump also failed to condemn Fuentes fully or explain why he was meeting with Ye until being pressured by Mike Pence, according to the SWC.