Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Fight against Antisemitism, on January 27 the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency will issue their annual Antisemitism Report for 2021, and the statistics are not encouraging.
The average number of antisemitic incidents reported in 2021 was more than ten incidents per day. However, the actual number of incidents is significantly higher, since many incidents are not reported by the victims out of fear, and due to the lack of surveillance and prosecution of local authorities and law enforcement agencies.
The main incidents were vandalism and destruction of property, graffiti, desecration of monuments, and propaganda. Incidents of physical and verbal violence accounted for less than a third of all antisemitic incidents in 2021. And so, while statistics show 2021 was the most antisemitic year in a decade, at the same time, not a single Jew around the world was been murdered over antisemitism.
The report also shows a correlation between calendric events around the world and the rise in the number of antisemitic incidents. In 2021 we saw a sharp increase in the number of antisemitic incidents in May, a month that featured Jerusalem Day, Shavuot, Al-Quds Day, Eid al-Fitr, Nakba Day, the Tiktok terror against Haredi Jews on the light train in Jerusalem, riots in the Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah) neighborhood, lethal riots in the mixed cities in Israel, and, of course, Operation Guardian of the Walls against Gaza terrorists.
Moreover, in May most European countries lifted their Covid lockdowns, releasing tensions after months of confinement at home. In 2020 the pandemic already caused an increase in the number of antisemitic incidents, mainly expressed in the digital space, but as soon as it was possible to move around the public space again, antisemitism took to the streets. Many demonstrations against the Covid vaccines and restrictions included Holocaust motifs, such as the yellow star, as well as antisemitic conspiracy theories accusing Jews of spreading the pandemic to control the world. The accusations targeted Jews in key positions, such as Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. The use of Holocaust-inspired symbols created a troubling trivialization of the Holocaust and its lessons.
The European continent is leading in the number of antisemitic incidents that took place in 2021, with close to 50% of all antisemitic incidents taking place there. It is followed by North America, where the United States leads with about 30% of the antisemitic incidents. The most surprising this year were Canada and Australia with a dramatic increase in the number of antisemitic incidents reported in 2021, compared to the previous year.
In the United States, New York recorded a 100% increase in the number of antisemitic incidents in 2021, with 503 incidents, compared to “only” 252 in 2020.
According to official Los Angeles Police Department data, in the first six months of 2021 (January-June), there was a 59.2% increase in the number of antisemitic incidents compared to the same period in the previous year.
The UK recorded a 49% increase in the first six months of the year (January-June 2021), with 1,308 incidents versus 875 in the same period in 2020.
Austria also recorded a double-digit increase in incidents in the first half of the year (562 incidents between January and June 2021, compared to 257 in the same period in 2020).
In Germany, 1,850 antisemitic incidents were recorded between January and October 2021 (10 months), compared to 1909 cases reported in all of 2020 (12 months). In states that were formerly associated with East Germany (Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and Saxony), the number of antisemitic incidents has steadily and significantly increased over the past four years (580 crimes in 2021, compared to 330 in 2017). In Berlin, in the first half of 2021, 522 antisemitic events were recorded, with an increase of about 27% compared to 2020, when 410 recorded incidents in the first half of the year.
In contrast, the declining trend in the number of antisemitic incidents in Russia has continued, according to reports from the local Jewish community, although sufficient documentation is not readily accessible.
Raheli Baratz-Rix, Head of the Department for Combating Antisemitism and Enhancing Resilience at the World Zionist Organization said: “Antisemitism is not a new term, but a term that reinvents itself. Jewish communities around the world face the challenges of a rising and ever-changing antisemitism. The resilience of the Jews is measured by their determination and strength, standing together as a community in the face of these challenges. Despite the grim statistics, this year we have also seen a little light emanating in various forms, such as the adoption by many countries of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism; passing Holocaust education laws; passing laws to prevent the vain use of Holocaust symbols; and of course, the war on BDS.”
She added that every country must provide its citizens with security and protect them everywhere in its jurisdiction, including the Jewish community. At the same time, she noted that the State of Israel will always be an anchor for every Jew who seeks shelter.”