2014 has been one of the worst years in the past decade (2004-2014). In fact, it was the second worst year after 2009.
Troubling and even alarming reports kept coming in from many countries, especially from Western Europe and North America, monitoring hundreds and sometimes over a thousand antisemitic manifestations and incidents of various types per country.
The tendencies that characterized this difficult year, in which violent, verbal and visual expressions of antisemitism abounded, continued in the beginning of 2015, with increasing murderous and other attacks.
The overall feeling among many Jewish people is one of living in an intensifying antiJewish environment that has become not only insulting and threatening, but outright dangerous, and that they are facing an explosion of hatred towards them as individuals, their communities, and Israel, as a Jewish state. Comparisons to the 1930s are rampant, because Jews realized, especially in Europe that there are no more taboos and restrictions when it comes to antisemitic manifestations, and certainly no proportion between the unfolding events and the actual number of Jews in their respective communities and their real impact on the societies they live in; or between the intensive debate on Israel's role in the Middle East and the lack of such a debate when it comes to other Middle Eastern conflicts.
Jewish community leaders and heads of organizations feel that they are put to a test, because of the question hovering over the heads of the Jewish communities: What future is there for communities and individuals, especially in Europe. The issue is not only a matter of having more security means provided by the respective states, but rather of the ability to lead full Jewish life in Europe, especially under heavy police and even army protection, and the necessity to add self-defense to the communities' agenda.
Numbers of Anti-Semitic Incidents
It should be emphasized that the numbers mentioned here are the result of the monitoring and analysis system developed by the Kantor Center team that has been working together on these issues for more than twenty years. Reports about thousands of incidents worldwide, suspected as antisemitic, reached us during 2014, from a variety of sources: open sources, namely materials to be found on the web and other media channels; police, enforcement and judicial agencies; embassies; Jewish communities and their monitoring data; and a net of expert colleagues and volunteers, most of whom have been cooperating with us for many a year. The thousands of reported cases were carefully analyzed 2 according to specific criteria, the essence of which is whether the case or incident is indeed antisemitic, and whether they are counted without either exaggerating or diminishing the severity of the situation. These specific criteria and the pinpointing of violent incidents are the basic reason for the differences between the numbers released by the various communities and institutes reports and surveys and the numbers offered here.
- During 2014 the Kantor Center registered 766 violent antisemitic acts perpetrated with or without weapons and by arson, vandalism or direct threats against Jewish persons or institutions such as synagogues, community centers, schools, cemeteries and monuments as well as private property.
- These 766 cases mark a sharp increase of 38% compared to 2013, in which 554 violent incidents were registered. In this regard 2014 has been the second worst year of the decade, coming next after 2009, with an increase of about 40% higher than the average numbers registered between the years 2004-2014.
The categorization of violent activities reflect a most troubling situation:
- The number of attacks on Jews and their property and institutions with weapons, that amounted to 68 cases, has more than doubled in comparison to 2013, in addition to 101 cases of weaponless violence.
- The number of arson cases has more than tripled in comparison to the previous year, and there were 412 incidents of vandalism.
- More than 306 people were targets of attacks, an increase of 66% in comparison to 2013; the 114 attacks of synagogues marked an increase of 70%; and as many as 57 community centers and schools, 118 cemeteries and memorial sites as well as 171 private properties were targeted.
- The highest number of violent cases was registered in France, for a number of consecutive years now: 164 compared to 141 in 2013
- There was a sharp rise in violent incidents in the UK (141 compared to 95), in Australia ( 30 compared to 11), Germany (76 compared to 36, more than double), Austria (9 compared to 4), Italy (23 compared to 12, again more than double), Sweden (17 compared to 3), Belgium (30 compared to 11) and South Africa (14 compared to 1).
- The situation in Eastern Europe is different: In the Ukraine (28 compared to 23), Hungary (15 compared to 14), and in Russia and Romania numbers even slightly decreased.
Most communities, experts and agencies, try to monitor not only the violent cases (as the Kantor Center does), but rather all manifestations of antisemitism in their various forms, including the verbal and the visual, and the results are no less troubling:
- Overall cases in France rose from 423 to 851 (threats for instance, were doubled, 610 compared to 318); in Australia 312 compared to 231; in Germany 1076 compared to 788; in Belgium there was a rise of 60%; in Austria the numbers doubled, from 137 to 255.
- In the UK 1168 incidents – the highest annual total number ever- were registered across the country, more than twice the number of 535 incidents in 2013, and this is just a list of major cases.
Having referred to the violent cases and to the number of overall cases of every type as provided by the communities, it should still be emphasized that the visual expressions, such as caricatures disseminated in the media and through the social nets, TV series and comics, and the verbal expressions, such as insults, abusive language and behavior, slogans and swastika, threats and harassments and the like, occur far more often than could be quantified, and that most of them are not reported to any type of authorities. Thus, manifestations of antisemitism are no longer random experiences, but seem to have become almost daily phenomena, seen and felt on every sphere of life, from politics and economy to popular culture and education.
Developments That Could Account for This Situation
Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, in July and August 2014. Still, the first half of 2014 had already proved to be a very difficult period for Jews as individuals and as members of communities, way before the summer months and the high increase of incidents that occurred during the Operation. Therefore one should look deeper for reasons, some of which are connected to the Operation, especially the demonstrations: Hundreds of demonstrations, organized primarily by extreme leftists and anti-Israeli radical Muslims, took place mainly in Western and central Europe – in Germany, most notably, and to a lesser extent in North and Latin America. Some of them turned violent; in most of them banners and posters carried abusive slogans, comparing Israel and its Jewish supporters to Nazis and blaming them and Israeli soldiers for every evil on earth. It is the present crisis of values, that characterizes contemporary western societies, coupled with profound ignorance that drives confused youngsters to look for easy to catch black and white symbols. Struggling against a symbol of evil is a noble deed any liberal minded person should wish to be engaged in, however it is questionable whether many of those who joined the anti-Israeli rallies actually know where Gaza is placed on the map, or what the history and the present of the Middle East are, who the Nazis were, or what happened during the Holocaust.
The Return of Classic Antisemitism. A host of ugly caricatures, published in the various media channels, complemented the demonstrations, serving as a vehicle for visualizing the symbols of good and evil, culprits and victims, often showing Jews and Israelis in the same known Der Sturmer fashion: cruel, blood thirsty, killing children with a sneering smile under a crooked nose. The caricatures reflect one more development: the return of classic antisemitism, that has not been noticed for years, and now gains increasing ground, if not instead of anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism then at least alongside them.
The visual imagery is often imbued with blood that serves as a major theme, and the image of the Jew that sheds it is frightening, and sort of eternal, because it did not change since at least medieval times. Officially demonstrations were against Israel and against the operation in Gaza, but marchers chanted "Jews to the Gas" and "death to the Jews". Synagogues were targeted, not Israeli embassies; and the question is whether the return of classic antisemitism that brings forth religious elements, is a result of the increasing religious nature of the Muslim struggle, a struggle for identity and for Islamic world dominance.
Biased western and Muslim media enhanced stereotypes of classic old antisemitism, when it transmitted a certain Jewish-Israeli image. There was no way the western media consumer could avoid horror photos from the Gaza conflict, while he was getting no background information, or a word about how citizens, including children, were used to shield Hamas members, or any mentioning of the on-going aggression against Israeli citizens. Thus the media, bringing almost exclusively horror photos, first and foremost of wounded and dead Palestinian children, re-animated traditional child murderer stereotypes.
Cruelty on the Rise. The ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) phenomenon, and the bloody character of events unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa since the so-called "Arab Spring", have raised the level of cruelty to hitherto unknown new heights. Having their dark charm, cruelty and violence attract, especially the younger audiences, and are being constantly instilled into western culture.
The Gap Between Responses of European Leaders and Officials, and the Public at Large. When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called upon the Jews to leave Europe because "Israel is your home" and Europe proves dangerous, European leaders and heads of states, reacted, making ardent promises for more security and more means for safekeeping Jewish life in Europe, and expressing solidarity, describing the Jewish communities as part and parcel of Europe. There are more efforts than in previous years, of organizations and governmental agencies, or at least suggestions, to legislate against antisemitism and Holocaust Denial, and at least to implement existing laws, to discuss definitions of antisemitism and racism, to commemorate the Holocaust and to offer recommendations to the administrations. Also, self-resignations and firing of officials and position holders who expressed gross antisemitism in public still holds. And there was an impressive number of "Silver Lining" parades, to express solidarity with the Jewish citizens, most notably in the Scandinavian countries, and of Kippah walks.
The problem we would like to pin point is that these efforts, as genuine as they may be, and financed by governmental budgets in most western countries, have no meeting point with the street, or rather with the forces working against them: the far right, the extreme left, radical Islamists and politically non-identified publics. Indeed, the ADL global attitude survey, published in May 2014, perhaps the largest ever conducted included 53,000 participants in 102 countries and territories. The analysis showed that a quarter of those telephonically interviewed (representing approximately 1.1 billion adults worldwide), harbor deep seated antisemitic stereotypes.
We, the Kantor Center team, cannot close this report without strongly protesting against recent incidents in Israel. Vandalism against holy places of non-Jews, whether Christian or Muslim or any other denomination, causing damage to their property in whatever form, smearing Swastikas and abusive language over their walls, is tantamount to what we see abroad against Jews and their holy places, and requires the same strict legislation and punishment that is demanded against perpetrators of antisemitic incidents.
To read the full Kantor Center Report on Worldwide Anti-Semitic Manifestations 2014, click here.
Source: The European Jewish Congress