In 2018 the number of antisemitic incidents and violent attacks on Jews increased. In most countries where antisemitic incidents are monitored, a record number of incidents was registered last year.
The most significant antisemitic event in the past year has been the massacre at the Etz Chaim Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in which 11 Jews were murdered by Robert Bowers, an extreme American right-wing activist. The murder emphasized the problem of neo-Nazi antisemitism in the United States, where nationalists who espouse white supremacy enjoy freedom of expression and free access to weapons.
White supremacists are experiencing a kind of rebirth for the past three years, due largely to the rise of the alternative right, the Alt-Right. The argument that stands at the core of the ideology of white supremacy in its modern version is that the white race is in danger of extinction and is drowning in a rising tide of non-white people controlled and manipulated by the Jews. White supremacists believe that almost every action can be justified if its goal is to “save” the white race.
Unlike the extreme right in the United States, the extreme right in Europe has undergone many changes. These changes happened because of social changes and changes in the nature of the threats, as they are perceived by the leaders of those on this side of the political map: Jews, Communists and even Americans turn their attention in the last few years to Islam, the new enemy of the European extreme right. The antisemitic activity of the extreme right in Europe has become more moderate and is not a dominant factor in antisemitism. An exception to this trend is Germany, where there was an increase in antisemitic incidents perpetrated by the extreme right.
Muslim antisemitism continues to be the dominant and the most influential factor in antisemitic events in the world. In a crude way, two different factors can be distinguished in Muslim antisemitism:
First of all, radical Islam of the jihadist Salafis, who are influenced by a religious extremist ideology viewing the Jews and the Crusaders as their ultimate enemies. The Islamic system, whose current organizations are ISIS and al-Qaeda, spreads an ideology whose goal is to harm Jews. The antisemitic propaganda preached in mosques, influences the followers to look at the Jews as part of an international conspiracy to harm Islam and as targets of jihad. Lately, with the significant decline in military and political influence of the Islamic state, we can see in the jihadist discourse a substantial increase in referring to the Jews as a worthy target.
In addition to the jihadist discourse, we find an antisemitic discourse in the Islamic world that emphasizes the delegitimization of the Zionist movement in general and the State of Israel in particular. This antisemitism, known as “the new antisemitism” characterizes many other elements of the radical left and the BDS organizations and links the Jewish people to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Denying Israel’s right to exist as the state of the Jewish people, by using classic antisemitic motifs to describe Jewish aggression, characterizes the discourse of these groups. Another characteristic endangering the Jewish communities in the diaspora, is the idea that they are an extension of the State of Israel and a target for acts of protest and violence in response to what they perceived as Israeli violence against the Arabs.
The two characteristics of Muslim antisemitism are not always clearly differentiated and influence together the Muslim population in the various countries. The Muslim emigration to Western countries in recent years, mainly from Middle Eastern countries and their difficult situation, have created a fertile ground of influence of both types.
An example of development or change in the antisemitic discourse can be found in the reference to the liberal billionaire George Soros. Organizations and extreme right-wing activists around the world are doing everything possible to present Soros not only as a political adversary, but as the embodiment of everything they detest by using antisemitic arguments from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
At the same time, radical leftist movements, especially on US campuses, continued their strong anti-Israeli propaganda that caused Jewish students to feel insecure to express pro-Israel or Zionist views.
In Britain, the antisemitic discourse by senior members of the Labor Party continues, with new revelations of Corbin’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah. It is mainly a kind of new antisemitism disguised as criticism of Israel, but directed at the Jews in Britain, who are openly accused of being part of the “regime of occupation and oppression”.
In Eastern Europe there was a decrease in the number of violent incidents. Ukraine is an exception in the decrease of incidents in Eastern Europe.
During the past year there have also been significant achievements in the fight against antisemitism. Primarily, the recognition of the definition of antisemitism. (Which recognizes the new antisemitism and delegitimization as a form of antisemitism. You can read the complete definition at the end of the Report).
More and more countries have declared that they intend to adopt the definition of Antisemitism and by doing so they will be able to provide tools for their authorities to identify antisemitism and thereby prevent it. In early December, 28 EU countries issued a statement against antisemitism and a promise to preserve the security of the Jews. The EU Council said in a statement that EU members should use the definition as a tool for guidance or auxiliary tool.
The struggle against the BDS movement is also successful and more countries are adopting laws that restrict or prohibit the activities of organizations that support the boycott of Israel.