Rise in antisemitic manifestations since the global breakout of coronavirus, 18% increase in violent antisemitic attacks worldwide in 2019

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“The language and imagery used clearly identifies a revival of the medieval ‘blood libels’ when Jews were accused of spreading disease, poisoning wells or controlling economies,” said Moshe Kantor.

The annual report of the Kantor Center on Antisemitism shows a 18% increase in violent antisemitic attacks worldwide in 2019

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant rise in accusations that Jews, as individuals and as a collective, are behind the spread of the virus or are directly profiting from it,” said Moshe Kantor. “The language and imagery used clearly identifies a revival of the medieval ‘blood libels’ when Jews were accused of spreading disease, poisoning wells or controlling economies.”

There has been a rise in antisemitic manifestations in the first few months since the global breakout of the coronavirus desease and the economic recession triggered by the pandemic, said Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), as he spoke Monday during the release of the Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide 2019, by the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant rise in accusations that Jews, as individuals and as a collective, are behind the spread of the virus or are directly profiting from it,” he said. “The language and imagery used clearly identifies a revival of the medieval ‘blood libels’ when Jews were accused of spreading disease, poisoning wells or controlling economies,” Kantor added.

“Unfortunately, these manifestations are continuing the consistent rise of antisemitism over the last few years, especially online, on the streets and in mainstream society, politics and media,’’ he said.

Some of those spreading these conspiracy theories and ‘’blood libels’’ range from far-right politicians in Europe and America, ultra-conservative pastors in the U.S., far-right activists, artists and leaders in Iran.

In addition to dealing with stopping the spread of the virus and with the economic consequences of the crisis, global leaders need to also address the rise of populism and extremism that could result from this crisis, Kantor said, noting examples from the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Depression, which led to the rise of fascism and Nazism

“As unemployment numbers will begin to spiral out of control, more people may seek out scapegoats, spun for them by conspiracy theorists. Our leaders need to address the problem of growing extremism and hate now, to get ahead of the problem that is already at our door,” Kantor warned.

The Kantor Center report shows a dramatic rise of 18% in antisemitic incidents in 2019, whether violent, verbal or visual, continuing the steady rise of antisemitism of the last few years.The total number of severe and violent incidents monitored worldwide in 2019 was 456, compared to 387 incidents in 2018.

Seven Jews were killed, at least 53 synagogues and 28 community centers and schools were attacked. There was also an increase in life-endangering threats and in attacks on private properties.

The return of traditional, classic antisemitic stereotypes as well as the intensification of anti-Israeli and Islamist antisemitism, both contributed to the growing role of antisemitic discourse and its’ migration from the fringes of society into the mainstream public discourse.