Moderate decline in violent attacks against Jews, but attacks are becoming more brutal
Anti-Semitic violence around the world dropped 9% from 2016 to 2017, but a "dramatic increase" of all other forms of anti-Semitic manifestations, including harassment and hate speech, has raised increasingly "grave concerns among Jews regarding their security and the continuation of communal life," according to an annual report from Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, published on April 11. The report did not include figures on anti-Semitic incidents in France, which were not available when the report went to press.
The report also noted that the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents found that the number of such incidents in the United States rose 57% in 2017 to a total of 1,986 — the largest single-year increase on record and the second-highest number reported since ADL started tracking such data in 1979. The sharp rise was in part due to a significant increase in incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.
Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States took place in a wide variety of locations, including places of business, private homes, public areas such as parks and streets, Jewish institutions, schools and colleges/universities. Although in the past the largest number of incidents occurred in public areas, in 2017 K-12 schools surpassed public areas as the locations with the most anti-Semitic incidents, with 457 incidents being reported in K-12 schools and 455 in public areas.
The full report is available at http://kantorcenter.tau.ac.il/sites/default/files/Doch_full_2018_110418.pdf.
"2017 was a year in which many Jews, particularly in Europe, suffered," Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, told reporters at a news conference held at Tel Aviv University on April 11. "Both the public and private sectors are seen as unsafe for Jews. As demonstrated by the brutal murder of Mireille Knoll in her home in Paris, the general feeling of Jews is that anti-Semitism has now entered their homes. While there was a 9% decrease in violent attacks against Jews worldwide, this fact was overshadowed by a dramatic rise in other manifestations of anti-Semitism.
"To live in many parts of Europe as a Jew today is to live in a fortress. Jewish parents are confronted with the task of explaining to their children that they have to move from their school, behind thick glass, to their community center, behind barbed wire. Jews fear for their safety even in their own homes. The normalizing and banalizing of anti-Semitism has reached historic levels."
"Why are we talking about a general decrease in violent anti-Semitic attacks when the feeling is different?" said Prof. Dina Porat, head of the Kantor Center and chief historian of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Israel.
"The situation in France is very delicate," she said. "Just consider the case of Sarah Halimi, whose brutal murder was not considered an 'anti-Semitic' attack by French authorities. The cases themselves are becoming more brutal — there is more murder. The nature of the violence is harsher. There is an intensification of harassment in school. Many more manifestations are very difficult to count or estimate, because they are severely underreported."
The Kantor Center's annual report, a global overview of anti-Semitic incidents, is based on surveys conducted by recognized watchdogs from dozens of countries, including nearly all European Union member states. According to the report, "The anti-Semitic atmosphere has become a public arena issue, intensively dealt with vis-à-vis the triangle made of the constant rise of the extreme right, a heated anti-Zionist discourse on the left, accompanied by harsh anti-Semitic expressions, and radical Islam."
"People in Europe are on the front lines," Prof. Porat said. "The word 'Jew' has come back as a bad word. But we are not alone. Other minorities are suffering as well. We should suggest a coalition, an umbrella organization to work together in this fight, extending a hand to other groups who are suffering, like moderate Muslims and the Roma."
"We need to strengthen the tools with which the governmental agencies fight anti-Semitism," concluded Dr. Kantor. "We need a pragmatic road map to fight this, and we need to limit our tolerance for those individuals who reject the principles of tolerance. We cannot fight anti-Semitism as if it is just a Jewish problem."
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