Kantor Center notes 38% rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe; researchers say sharp rise is partly linked to last summer’s Gaza war, as well as a ‘general climate of hatred and violence’ fostered by the rise of ISIS.
Jewish communities around the world faced an “explosion of hatred” last year, with the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks rising by 38 percent, according to an annual report released by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University released on Wednesday, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The report recorded 766 incidents – ranging from armed assaults to vandalism against synagogues, schools and cemeteries – compared to 554 in 2013.
“There is a worsening in expressions of anti-Semitism. Jews today worry about their future,” according to the report, which also notes a connection between Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza over the summer and the rise in anti-Semitism.
Some of the anti-Semitic acts were carried out using weapons while others were characterized by arson or vandalism.
Many Jews feel like “they are facing an explosion of hatred toward them as individuals, their communities, and Israel, as a Jewish state,” wrote the researchers.
In addition, the report also found a sharp rise in direct threats against synagogues, community centers, schools, cemeteries and monuments, among others.
The researchers said the increase in attacks on Jews was partly linked to last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which led to “a wave of anti-Semitic events,” as well as to what they called a “general climate of hatred and violence” fostered by the rise of the Islamic State group in the Middle East.
The report said 2014 was the second most violent year for Jews in a decade after 2009, which also saw a surge in anti-Semitism following an Israeli military operation in Gaza – Operation Cast Lead.
According to the report, hundreds of protests were conducted against Israel and its supporters in western and central Europe in 2014, during which protesters chanted anti-Semitic slogans, looted Jewish shops and attacked synagogues as well as people identifiable as Jews.
“Some of the protests deteriorated into violence while almost all of them included signs with hurtful slogans that included comparisons between Israel and the Nazis and the blaming of IDF soldiers for anything wrong under the sun,” researchers wrote.
However, researchers stressed that attacks had been on the rise also before the summer and said the controversy over Israel’s operation was used as a pretext to attack Jews.
“Synagogues were targeted, not Israeli embassies,” said Dina Porat, a historian who edited the report.
The Kantor Center also pointed out the return of classic anti-Semitism and the gap between world leaders who are willing to display solidarity with the Jewish nation and the general public, which shows indifference to the matter.
The data collected by the Kantor Center shows there were 68 reported cases of assaults against Jews with the use of weapons and 101 cases of violence without weapons in 2014. The report also notes three reported cases of arson at Jewish institutions and 412 other cases of arson and vandalism.
Furthermore, the report mentioned 306 cases in which Jews were attacked – a rise of 66 percent compared to last year.
Synagogues, according to the report, were a prime target for anti-Semitic attacks with 114 noted cases – a 70 percent rise from last year. About 57 Jewish community centers and schools were attacked, 118 Jewish cemeteries and monuments and 171 attacks of personal property were reported.
The rise noted in the report was backed up by data gathered around the world. In France, for example, there were 853 anti-Semitic attacks noted in the past year, compared to 423 the year before. Meanwhile, Australia registered at 312 attacks (231 the year before), Germany at 1,076 (788 the year before), and Britain reported a record number of 1,168 anti-Semitic cases which represented two-times the cases that were noted in 2013.
The reported incidents do not include the killing of four shoppers at a kosher supermarket in Paris following the deadly shooting at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, since those events occurred in January.
However, the researchers noted that the wave of attacks has continued this year, and that the gruesome acts and propaganda videos of the Islamic State are also encouraging the radicalization of Muslims in the West.
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, an umbrella group representing communities across the continent, said Jewish life has reached a “tipping point” in Europe.
“Some are choosing to leave the continent, many are afraid to walk the streets and even more are retreating behind high walls and barbed wire,” Kantor told The Associated Press in an e-mail. “This has become the new reality of Jewish life in Europe.”
Kantor said that while governments have pledged to boost security for their Jewish communities, they must do more at a pan-European level to share intelligence, toughen legislation and combat pervasive anti-Semitic attitudes in the general population.
“European Jews should not leave out of fear and should push their leaders to defeat anti-Semitism and radical Islamist