The Diaspora Ministry released its annual report on global anti-Semitism Sunday ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The coronavirus pandemic has been used to spread anti-Jewish and anti-Israel conspiracy theories across the globe according to the Diaspora Ministry’s report.
According to the report, while coronavirus lockdowns led to a decrease in personal anti-Semitic encounters, there was a 10% increase in online anti-Semitism in 2020 compared to 2019. Among the attempts to link Israel to the disease were the hashtag COVID48, a reference to Israel’s founding in 1948 which appears to be part of an Iranian disinformation campaign which was shared 250,000 times.
In another worrying sign, nine out of ten American Jews say that anti-Semitism is a problem, while eight out of ten say that it has increased over the last few years.
The report predicted that anti-Semitic violence would increase as societies reopen and the anti-Semitism that has spread online is expressed in the open.
Attention was called to anti-Semitism in Europe, noting the phenomenon of far-right extremism and anti-Semitism within the German police force. Between 2017 and 2020, 380 cases were opened against German police officers for wearing Nazi uniforms and insignias and other expressions of far-right extremism and anti-Semitism.
The report also noted that for the first time since the Holocaust, there is an institutional threat to Jewish religious freedom in Europe by the banning customs and the labeling of Jews by the government and the establishment. Of particular concern was the ruling of the European Court of Justice that each country can independently ban kosher slaughter within its borders, without violating overall European law, while continuing to allow hunting. The ruling sets a dangerous precedent that opens the door for additional bans on religious practice, including bans on circumcision.
The report also found cause for optimism. In Ukraine, the report noted a greater effort by the government to identify and fight anti-Semitism.
In addition, three Muslim-majority states adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance’s definition of anti-Semitsm, including the first Arab country, Bahrain.
Diaspora Minister Omer Yankelevich stated: “For thousands of years, the Jewish people have served as a scapegoat for all the diseases of the world. Unfortunately, anti-Semitism has not missed the current epidemic either. In the past, this phenomenon caused the massacre of entire Jewish communities, today it is recycled and even gaining momentum on social media. This is just one of many examples of the new face that anti-Semitism is wearing today, and will be detailed in the Diaspora Ministry’s anti-Semitism report for 2020. If anti-Semitism is a global phenomenon, the war should be global as well. Only a stubborn and uncompromising struggle can ward off this plague.”