The number of major anti-Semitic incidents worldwide rose by 18 percent in 2019 over the previous year, according to a newly released report from Tel Aviv University, the Kantor Center for the Study of European Jewry and the European Jewish Congress.

According to the report, 456 acts of “major violent cases” of anti-Semitism were reported worldwide, as compared to 387 in 2018. Seven Jews were killed in the attacks.

Those cases included:

  • The shooting rampage at the Chabad of Poway in Southern California on April 27, the last day of Passover, in which one 60-year-old congregant, Lori Kaye, was murdered and three others, including senior Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, were injured;
  • The Yom Kippur shooting attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Oct. 9;
  • The Dec. 10 shooting at a kosher grocery in Jersey City, N.J., in December, in which four people, including two Chassidic Jews, a store employee and a police officer, were killed; and,
  • The machete attack on Hanukkah the home of rabbi in Monsey, N.Y., which injured multiple guests and led to the recent death of Yosef Neumann from injuries sustained in the attack.

The increase in attacks is a “sharp rise, especially in view of the considerable decline in such cases during the years 2015-2017,” the report stated. “At least 169 persons (37 percent of major violent cases) were physically attacked, mostly in public spaces … a relatively new phenomenon, already noted in 2018 in France.”

Additionally, more than 50 synagogues and some 30 community centers or Jewish schools across the globe were targeted for anti-Semitic attacks in 2019.

The report also pointed out that anti-Semitic expressions “continue to infiltrate from the fringes of society into the mainstream,” and that there is a “growing disparity” between what is happening on the ground and governmental efforts to stop anti-Semitism.

It singled out what it called “troubling trends.”

In Germany, the report noted, police recorded some 1,839 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019, an average of five per day. While in the United States, “a new phenomenon is emerging, one of increased violent anti-Semitic manifestations, with shooting sprees and numerous casualties, inspired by right-wing ideologies as well as by certain groups within the Black Hebrew Israelites and the Nation of Islam.”

Though the report focused primarily on incidents in 2019, it did lay out concerns about anti-Semitic incidents related to the coronavirus outbreak, as it is already seeing this play out among extreme-right activists, Islamists and the far-left. Canards online and elsewhere include the accusation that Jews are conspiring to undermine the world’s economic stability, have already created a vaccine, or developed the virus to attack Iranians and Muslims.

The report added that “besides these accusations, the calls to attack Jews have acquired a new dimension. The FBI warned against calls coming from neo-Nazis and white supremacists to spread the contagion among Jews, by using quite ugly personal interactions. Moreover, cyber attacks on Jewish institutions and groups trying to congregate online are a novel trend resulting from the increasing use of different digital social platforms.”

However, the report did aim to put the impact of the coronavirus and the hate associated with it in “proportion.”

“ … blaming Jews for ‘why things go wrong,’ as stated in the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] 2016 Working Definition of anti-Semitism is a common practice as old as anti-Semitism, therefore, these manifestations do not represent a new development,” stated the report. It also noted that others including people of Asian descent are also being targeted by some groups.

In its conclusion, the report’s authors sum up their findings with questions: “Will 2020 continue the trend observed in 2019 of violence and abusive language against Jews, or that of growing awareness and finding solutions? Will the coronavirus crisis result in more accusations of the lowest kind against the Jewish people and its state, or will the understanding prevail that the fate of all mankind is intertwined, and that there is no way out of it but in cooperation and mutual support?”

© 2020 American Jewish Congress.