The year of 2009 saw an increase of more than 100% in the number of violent acts of anti-Semitic nature against Jews worldwide, according to a report released Sunday by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University.
The Institute recorded 1,129 violent incidents in 2009, compared to 559 in 2008 – the highest number of incidents in the past 20 years.
The Institute's head, Prof. Dina Porat, noted in a press briefing that number of incidents, both violent and verbal, might actually be far higher than the figures presented in the report, as they do not include hundreds of instances of targeting of Jewish individuals or property (or public property), where there was no clear evidence of anti-Semitic motive. In addition, she said, Jews sometimes prefer not to file complaints, fearing reprisal or doubting the outcome
According to the report, 2009 was a record year in terms of anti-Semitic incidents, and the reports authors ascribe this to Operation Cast Lead
in Gaza, which generated mass demonstrations and verbal and visual expressions against Israel
and the Jew worldwide.
According to the Institute's criteria and data, the highest rise in numbers of violent incidents was registered in 2009 in the United Kingdom – 374 compared to 112 in 2008; France recorded 195 violent events compared to 50 in 2008; Canada – 138 compared to 13, and the United States – 116 compared to 98. In Germany, the final reports for 2009 shows slight increase in the overall number of anti-Semitic manifestations, but report's authors say the Jewish community there feels threatened.
The report notes that the intensity and nature of the wave that began in January 2009 testified to pre-planned mobilization among radicals from the left and among Muslim immigrant communities, resulting in a well-coordinated onslaught which employed a range of anti-Semitic tools, including the equation between Jews and Israelis. This equivalence, which has infiltrated the mainstream discourse, is intended to de-legitimize the State of Israel and the Jewish people as a single entity, the authors said.
Radical Muslim leaders cooperate with far left groups, many of which are active on university campuses and which spew an anti-Zionism imbued with anti-Semitic overtones and identify strongly with the Palestinian cause, the authors said, noting that Jewish students and Israeli students abroad also number among the leadership of those radical left groups.
According to the report, although extreme right activists still play a significant role in perpetrating anti-Semitic incidents, in 2009 most violent cases, especially in western Europe − where identification was obtained − were determined to have been carried out by individuals of Arab or Muslim background.
Prof. Porat explained that beyond the numbers, examples and analyses, it could be said that 2009 was a year of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic expressions and accusations on the international scene that were unparalleled in their viciousness.
"The repeated demonization of the Jewish state and its supporters as a symbol of all evil and a major source of the world’s troubles overshadows any factual discussion and leads to the implication, whether wittingly or unwittingly, that the elimination of the State of Israel as a Jewish state might bring global salvation," she stated.
She also noted that there was rampant ignorance of political and historical facts among contemporary youth, for many of whom Israel, Zionism and Jews represent a catchy symbol of evil. Most young people use social networks, like Facebook, as an organization tool.
According to Prof. Porat, when the study began in 1989 only 78 incidents of anti-Semitic violence were recorded worldwide. "The numbers over the years are not going down, but only up, and the prominent motives across the world are children and blood, portraying Israel as a country of blood-thirsty people, child killers, and in light of recent report – as organ harvesters as well," the report says.