Jewish communities around the world remain vigilant and concerned amid unrelenting proliferations of xenophobia and antisemitism, and a steady rise in anti-Jewish expressions and incidents across the globe.
The World Jewish Congress has compiled a brief review of some of the concerning trends and incidents witnessed and recorded over the course of August 2020. We will continue to monitor developments as they arise and remain committed to working together with our communities to ensure a safer and more tolerant world for all.
Posters in Argentina claim “Jews are the virus”
When: 22- 23 August
What: Antisemitic posters were posted in Neuquén containing phrases such as “the Jews are the virus” and “Argentines Awake to the World Jewish Dictatorship.”
“[The people who posts these posters] are criminals, antisocial, who only spread hate in a time when Argentine society is affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Carlos Maravankin, president of the WJC-affiliated Delegation of Israelite Associations of Argentina (DAIA) branch in Neuquén. Click here to read more.
Neo-Nazi group threatens Australian synagogue
What: The neo-Nazi National Socialist Network threatened a synagogue on the social media platform Gab. The post showed a sticker with the group’s logo on a pole outside of the synagogue. Click here to read more.
Other incidents in Australia included an Uber passenger demanding to be let out of the car after discovering his driver was Jewish, and accusations by a student group that Zionism is “inherently antisemitic.”
Austrian Jewish leader attacked
When: 22 August
What: An unknown assailant attacked Elie Rosen, the president of the Jewish community of Graz, with what is believed to have been a baseball bat. Rosen managed to find refuge in his car and was unhurt. The incident occurred shortly after the Graz Synagogue was vandalized with graffiti on two occasions the previous week.
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder sharply denounced the attack against Rosen saying, “I am saddened that Elie Rosen was attacked outside of the synagogue of the Jewish community he leads in Graz, Austria. He was thankfully unharmed physically. The World Jewish Congress stands with Elie, and the Graz and larger Austrian Jewish communities, as they move forward from this incident of antisemitic hate.”
“Such assault on Jews is becoming far too commonplace, especially in Europe but also elsewhere, including in the United States and Canada. I cannot condemn the perpetrator strongly enough, and we must acknowledge the deeper tragedy of global antisemitism, xenophobia and bigotry that threatens the fiber of societies worldwide.”
“I am deeply appreciative of Austrian Chancellor Kurtz’s prompt and unequivocal denunciation of the attack on Elie Rosen, and his assurance that his government is committed to safeguarding the security of the Austrian Jewish community.” Click here to read more.
In another incident, an Austrian Airlines flight attendant was fired after video footage emerged of her chanting several antisemitic and conspiratorial slogans, including, “Soros must go,” “Rothschild must go,” “Rockefeller must go” and “Illuminati must go.”
Belgian newspaper runs cartoon labeling Jewish neighborhood ‘Coronavirus Village’
When: 7 August
Where: Daily Belgian newspaper, Le Soir
What: A drawing in Le Soir by artist Pierre Kroll showed an Orthodox Jewish man cycling without wearing a face mask, while several masks are on the ground. A bus driver is seen saying, “After the zoo, we’ll go tour ‘Coronavirus Village’.” Click here to read more.
Bulgarian Deputy PM spreads antisemitic conspiracy myth involving George Soros
When: 9 August
What: Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov accused NGOs backed by the Hungarian-born Jewish billionaire George Soros of “[wanting] to take power in order to introduce gay marriage.”
The remarks were condemned by the WJC-affiliated Organization of Jews in Bulgaria (Shalom) as, “not only inappropriate, but also reminiscent of the days when the Nazi propaganda machine presented Jews as an example a minority group achieving its selfish political goals... although these theories regarding George Soros do not mention his Jewish heritage, they are strongly antisemitic in nature and allude to the false narrative of Jewish intervention in socio-economic processes in countries around the world.”
The statement concluded with a call on “Bulgarian politicians not to spread conspiracy myths involving George Soros” and to combat the spread of neo-Nazi ideology in Bulgarian society. Click here to read more.
In another incident, a swastika was spray-painted on a sign outside a Jewish community building in Yambol. Shalom condemned the incident, adding that the, “desecration of Jewish centers with Nazi symbols reminds of shameful times of history in the recent past.”
'Heil Hitler' and 'Juden' tagged on Jewish-owned house in France
When: 6 August
What: A Jewish man was knocked unconscious in an elevator by two attackers. The victim, who was wearing a kippah, stated that assailants attacked him from behind and proceeded to strangle, beat, and punch him until he was unconscious. According to the victim, the assailants yelled epithets and threats that included “Dirty Jew!” “Dirty race!” and “You’re a dead man, we’ll kill you!” as the two leapt on top of him.
Francis Kalifat, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions (Crif) and a WJC Vice President, condemned the incident, adding “Is another murder of a Jew necessary before serious and effective measures are taken? Words are no longer enough.” Kalifat also met with the Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti to discuss the incident and the rise of antisemitism and hatred across the country. Click here to read more.
There were several additional reported instances of antisemitic incidents across France:
According to the regional paper Le Populaire du Centre, unknown vandals defaced a memorial for the victims of the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre in Nazi-occupied France with the word “lie.” Kalifat condemned the incident saying, “The fight against Holocaust denial is similar to the one we must wage against racism, antisemitism [and] homophobia. These are poisons that corrupt minds and attack our society. They must be fought with force and in two ways: in the medium term, through education and history, in the short term, by justice, which must act with force.”
In another incident, a Jewish family from Lyon returned from vacation to find their home spray-painted with antisemitic slurs. Lyon Mayor Gregory Doucet, "strongly" condemned this act, tweeting that “the perpetrators of these heinous acts defile the humanistic spirit of our city and put us all in danger.”
In another incident, a young Jewish artist was assaulted while wearing a shirt that had the word “Israel” on it. One of the attackers said to him, "you're a Jews [sic], and you have nothing to do here."
In Berlin, demonstration against coronavirus restrictions feature antisemitic slogans
When: 1 August
What: A Berlin-based rally calling for an end to coronavirus social-distancing restrictions featured several antisemitic displays from protestors. The rally was attended and supported by thousands of Germans, including many Neo-Nazis. Hailed as a “Day of Freedom”, the title of the rally referenced the 1935 documentary about the Nazi army created by Hitler’s favorite filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl.
In an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and WJC Vice President Dr. Josef Schuster expressed concern that the coronavirus served as a, “catalyst for conspiracy myths and also for antisemitism."
“I am also concerned about the myths about who is supposedly responsible for the pandemic. This reminds me of the Middle Ages, when it was said that the Jews were to blame for the outbreak of the plague. That was when the pogroms began. Whenever a threat cannot be grasped, an angry look is directed at the minorities. The Jews have always been pushed into the role of the guilty and have then become victims,” Schuster added. Click here to read more.
There were several other antisemitic incidents across Germany: An Israeli-owned bar in Berlin went up in flames in what the police have ruled to be an arson attack. The bar, Morgen Bird Besser, was also defaced with graffiti including the number 28, which alludes the “Blood and Honor” Hitler Youth slogan. Graffiti pushing antisemitic conspiracy myths, including one saying “Merkel is a Jew” was also discovered throughout Stuttgart, Germany. A Berlin court convicted a BDS activist for assaulting an 85-year-old Israeli Holocaust survivor.
When: 13 August
What: An Air Force memorial in Karaiskaki Square was defaced with antisemitic graffiti, reading, “Satanic Jews Out!” Click here to read more.
Hungarian man wears shirt with swastika
What: A man wearing a red T-shirt with a rotated swastika in a white circle was photographed in a mall in Jászberény, Hungary. The swastika is a banned totalitarian symbol in Hungary. Click here to read more.
Dutch man receives eight months in jail for fake bomb at kosher eatery
When: January 2020
What: A 46-year-old man was sentenced to an eight-month prison term for placing a cardboard box disguised as a bomb in front of a kosher restaurant and was ordered to pay the restaurant €3,000 in damages. The man has two prior convictions for antisemitic behavior, including calling a national railway company worker a “cancer Jew.” Click here to read more.
Protestors display Nazi salutes
When: 21 August
What: Photos from an anti-LGBT demonstration showed at least two people preforming Nazi salutes. According to media reports protestors shouted, "Not red, not rainbow, but national Poland." Click here to read more.
Virtual shiva service Zoom-bombed
When: 5 August
Where: United Kingdom
What: A digital shiva service was disrupted by neo-Nazis who displayed swastikas and photos of Adolf Hitler. “There was this awful sight on different screens,” said Raphael Gee, an eyewitness to the incident. “There were swastikas and cartoonish-type propaganda that wouldn’t have been out of place in Nazi Germany.” Click here to read more.
There were several additional antisemitic reported incidents across Britain over the course of August including one in which a middle-aged man in a pub in England threatened a Jewish student saying, “we should have [expletive] gassed the lot of you.” According to reports, the man taunted the student because he, "looks like a Jew."
In another incident, an individual trying to join Manchester’s Acorn Union branch was told the organization has “no time for Zionists.” The union has launched an internal investigation and apologized to the applicant and the “wider Jewish community.”
Police are also investigating an antisemitic email sent to the Jewish Chronicle, several local councils, and other media organizations calling for “all Jews, Muslims and non-whites” to be repatriated from the UK. The letter was sign with the words “Heil Hitler.
United States of America
Sign claiming ‘Jews Want A Race War’ hung above Los Angeles freeway
When: 22 August
What: A sign claiming that “The Jews Want A Race War” was hung over the heavily trafficked Los Angeles interstate 405 highway. The sign is accompanied by another publicizing the website Goyimtv.com, which hosts a video of supporters standing on the overpass with the signs. The website states that “All members of the community and wider society should be treated as equals with the same rights, regardless of their race, age, sex, religion, political beliefs, or any other immutable attribute or self-assigned designation UNLESS YOU’RE A JEW or THE SHABBOS EQUIVALENT.” Click here to read more.
There were many other reported incidents of antisemitic actions across the United States including the vandalizations of several synagogues in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and California. A synagogue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was defaced with a swastika and the phrases, “Jews are scum” and “Long Live Hitler.” The rabbi of the synagogue told local news, “I pray to God people will learn how to tolerate each other.” In Long Island, New York, a man was arrested after threatening to shoot up a Yeshiva day camp. The suspect, who was found to be in possession of a variety of weapons, allegedly said, “if I got to go out there with a freaking machine gun and shoot all these people, I will.” A historically Jewish cemetery in Virginia was vandalized with the triskele hate symbol, which was used by the Nazis and has since been adopted by white supremacist groups.