Antisemitism is expected to rise sharply around the world as a result of conspiracy theories against Jews and the State of Israel regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s annual antisemitism report.
The main forum for the expression of antisemitism in 2020 changed from the physical realm to the online one, the report said.
There was a sharp increase in the dissemination of antisemitism online last year, including what appears to be an Iranian campaign to compare the Jewish state to a viral pandemic by launching the Twitter hashtag COVID48, a reference to 1948, the year Israel was established, it said.
Despite this, there was a drop in the number of antisemitic posts on social media, due to steps taken by the main social-media companies ,which have caused antisemitic users to migrate to other platforms with less oversight, the report said.
Data from the ministry’s monitoring systems showed a 50% decrease in the number of antisemitic posts on Twitter between 2018 and 2020.
The 140-page document also noted an increase in antisemitism in the US, caused by the novel coronavirus crisis in the country, political polarization surrounding the presidential election, the dissemination of various conspiracy theories and the racial-justice protests following the police killing of George Floyd.
As well as noting concern in the US, the report cited the problems of far-right antisemitism in Germany, where it said authorities have taken 380 legal measures against far-right activists in German police forces.
Investigators found evidence that police officers put on Nazi uniforms and symbols and exposed “many scandals related to antisemitism and racism in the ranks of the German police.”
The document also highlighted the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice, which upheld a ban by the Flanders regional government in Belgium on religious slaughter without stunning, a ban that makes the production of kosher meat impossible.
The EU court ruling represents “an institutional threat to Jewish religious freedom in Europe for the first time since the Holocaust,” the report said, adding that hunting continues to be legal in the European Union.
“The ruling represents a dangerous precedent and raises concerns about other restrictions, such as circumcising boys,” it said.
“For thousands of years, the Jewish people were the scapegoat for the ills of the world, and unfortunately, antisemitism has not skipped over the current pandemic,” Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch said.
“If antisemitism is a global phenomenon, then the war against it must also be global,” she said. She called for a “determined and uncompromising struggle to defeat this plague.”