Opening Address by EJC President Moshe Kantor at the Annual Kantor Center Press Conference on Antisemitism Worldwide in 2020

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The Kantor Center

Antisemitism Worldwide Report 2020 – 7 April 2021

Opening address by Dr. Moshe Kantor

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

2020 was a year of social disorder and deep global polarization.

Right now, our world is like a bus with two wheels hanging off an abyss. All eight billion of us, including the major global players, are inside the cabin, and it depends on our collaboration and coordination whether we fall into the abyss or stand on all four wheels and move to our mutual future!

But the mega players are literally torn apart by contradictions over nuclear, economic, space, cyber, and other matters.

COVID-19 has sharply aggravated an already critical situation in the area of extremism.

We are seeing harsh manifestations of multidirectional racism.

Therefore, combatting this pandemic has become more than a global issue – it’s an existential fight for our future.

In the past year, conspiracy theories have spread about Jews, the Jewish people or the state of Israel, as being behind the pandemic, or profiting from it.

Lockdowns are being compared to ghettos and concentration camps; vaccines are being described as dangerous medical experiments, and people who refuse these life-saving vaccines are claiming to be persecuted and are wearing yellow stars.

The constant focus on the role of Jews behind global events shows that antisemitism, as the center of conspiracy theories, has not gone away.

Because of the lockdowns and restrictions in place across the world, smaller number of physical antisemitic attacks took place in 2020 if we compare it with 2019.

The total number of violent antisemitic attacks decreased by almost 18%, from 456 incidents to 371.

In addition, the number of physical injuries decreased by 37%, and damage to private property was also reduced by 35%.

However, attacks on sites that were open and unprotected, such as Jewish cemeteries or Holocaust memorials increased by 25%.

The number of vandalized synagogues also increased, by 19%.

With people feeling isolated and looking for simple solutions, extremist groups both online and in the physical world have dramatically expanded.

Protest movements opposing coronavirus measures are often filled with far-right elements and pose an increasingly serious security threat.

We see today the very modern versions of the blood libel and world domination motifs.

A parallel and deeply worrying phenomenon is the growth of extremists joining or already in the police and militaries around the world where they can gain access to weapons and training.

For example, in Germany, the elite KSK army unit had to be dissolved last year due to far-right infiltration.

The good news is thanks to greater oversight and action by the major social media companies, and stronger national legislation against online hate, the number of antisemitic incidents on the main platforms has decreased.

These responses are welcome and necessary, but they will not stop online hatred by themselves. as the report shows, hate will simply move further underground to other platforms.

Europe’s Jewish communities are deeply concerned about the consequences for the younger generation.

Young people have been forced to stay indoors during an important part of their formative years, while being exposed at 24/7 to online antisemitism, manipulation and disinformation.

We must do more to engage with young people through the tools that they themselves use as primary sources of information on social media and in the digital world.

Prevention is always so much more effective than cure. we must do this through young people’s media of choice, through their role models and key influencers, and we must customize it according to the specific forums and processes that dominate information flows in our modern society.

I would like to conclude on a positive note. I am very pleased to announce that a project by the security and crisis center of the European Jewish congress to dramatically increase the security of places of worship across Europe has been selected for funding by the European commission.

This very project is being conducted in partnership with organizations from the Muslim, Christian and Buddhist communities in Europe.

We can expect very positive effects from this initiative, not only for religious communities, but for the whole society, building bridges, sharing best practices and strengthening the fight against antisemitism.

Thank you very much!

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