Switzerland / 21-03-2017

2016 Antisemitism report

Source: SIG

During 2016, the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) and the German-speaking Anti-Racism and antisemitism Fund (GRA) in Switzerland recorded 25 antisemitic incidents. The analysis mainly includes cases that were reported to the SIG's reporting agency or by the media. As in previous antisemitic reports, this number does not include expressions of antisemitism on the Internet. Incidents in French-speaking Switzerland (Romandie) were recorded by the PICAD organization.


Last year (2015) 15 cases were recorded. But from the higher number of incidents recorded in 2016 compared to 2015, we cannot come to conclusions about a parallel increase in antisemitic attitudes. Better reporting possibilities could be the cause of the increase, for example. Moreover, it could be that the actual number of antisemitic incidents is higher due to a partial registration: according to a study conducted by the European Union's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in 2013, up to 70 percent of antisemitic incidents were not reported.


antisemitic messages

This year too, Jewish institutions received a number of hate messages in their mail. Among them were threats, accusations, insults, and confused texts. In the letters, the perpetrators often confuse Jews and Israelis and are unaware that Swiss Jews have no influence on Israeli politics.


antisemitism on the Internet

Accurate data on antisemitic content in the Internet cannot be given. The number of contents and expressions depend on the method of observation: those who search more can find more. For this reason, incidents in the internet are analyzed primarily from a qualitative point of view. antisemitic incitement on the Internet grows when the media reports about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The last time it happened was in 2014. antisemitic incitement is often linked to this conflict, while instigators often have a Muslim or Islamic background.


From a tendentious point of view, fewer people spread incitement against Jews under their real name in the social networks in 2016. It is not clear whether this is because of an increasing awareness of the definition of online incitement as a criminal act or because of the absence of an operator (for example, conflicts in the Middle East).


The extreme right has published less antisemitic incitement on the Internet during the reporting year. In general, it has been years now that the extreme right-wing propagandists know that they may be prosecuted for discriminatory publications. Right-wing extremists in German-speaking Switzerland therefore seldom openly publish criminal antisemitic content under their real name.


While in the past most antisemitic comments were recorded by online portals in German-speaking Switzerland, most of them now found more useful methods to filter or delete offending comments.



Some of the letters use the terms of the extreme right, which leads to conclusions about the perpetrators. What stands out is that on Facebook, a large proportion of those who incited against Jews were between the ages of 15 and 30. Most of them have immigrant backgrounds, although the relatively good German most of them use, shows that those agitators grew up in Switzerland. Many of these young men are Muslim, as can be seen in their messages and profiles. But also people without immigrant background have been identified as antisemites.



The number of antisemitic incidents recorded in Switzerland has remained relatively stable over the years except for a few exceptions. In addition, the study "Living together in Switzerland" in 2015 shows that the dissemination of antisemitic attitudes in the general society is relatively stable and affects only about 10 percent of the Swiss population.


The greatest danger comes from very small groups with extreme right ideology or from the jihadists. These groups should be kept closely monitored and punished for breaking the law. The authorities are asked to treat antisemitic incidents not as insignificant events but to consistently implement penalties for violating the law against racism.


The encouraging fact is that more and more antisemitic incidents are reported by non-Jews. It turns out that more and more people are aware that antisemitism affects society as a whole. There is also evidence that there has been a slight increase in awareness that online incitement is defined by law as a criminal act.