January 2021: Antisemitism in review - World Jewish Congress

January 2021: Antisemitism in review

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January 2021: Antisemitism in review

Argentina 

Map 01 argentina

Jewish family attacked by assailants shouting "Death to the Jews" 

When: January  

Where:  Córdoba 

What: A Jewish family in Argentina was physically and verbally attacked by assailants. According to local media, two passengers in another car shouted, “F***ing Jews, get out of here. Death to the Jews,” and proceeded to assault the Jewish driver.  

While there were only three reported antisemitic physical assaults in Argentina in 2019, the number of overall antisemitic incidents rose by 107% compared to 2018. Online incidents made up an overwhelming majority of the incidents.  

Several days after the incident, the alleged assailants were arrested. Click here to read more. 

Belgium  

belgium

Flemish Parliament honors Nazi collaborators 

When: January  

Where: Belgium  

What: The Flemish Parliament supported the publication of a brochure honoring Nazi collaborators Staf De Clercq and August Borms as figures who have “shaped the emancipation of our language and our people.”  

Although the brochure acknowledges that both collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, it also describes De Clercq—the leader of the pro-Nazi Flemish National League (VNV) party—as “an educator and language border activist,” and Borms—who was sentenced to death as a collaborator and refused to denounce the Nazis—as “a teacher and figurehead of activism during World War I.”   

Responding to the scandal, CCOJB President Yohan Benizri said that “[h]onoring these collaborators of the Nazi regime is scandalous. Belgian Jews, and all democrats, have had enough. We already suffer from worrying about our safety and seeing our children exposed to increasingly unbridled antisemitism.... Many young Belgians do not know the history of their country. Hate speech cannot be effectively combated when celebrating a shameful heritage.” Click here to read more.  

Canada 

canada

Montreal synagogue vandalized with antisemitic graffiti 

When: 13 January 

Where: Montreal 

What: A large swastika was discovered on the doors on Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, a 160-year-old Modern Orthodox synagogue. The suspect was apprehended at the scene of the crime.   

Adam Scheier, the synagogue's rabbi and a witness to the crime, said the suspect also brought a gasoline canister with him. "One is not surprised when another antisemitic attack happens against one of the beloved institutions in our community," said Scheier. 

"There is a sense of vulnerability and fear, but I want to make it very clear, the support that has come in the last few hours has been overwhelming and beautiful. Whether it's from members of our community, other clergy of all different faiths, they've reached out and offered support." 

Rabbi Reuben Poupko, co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the Jewish community is "outraged by today's vile assault." 

"This attack targets the entire community and all those who embrace civility and tolerance," he said. “Coming in the wake other violent antisemitic attacks, it is yet another reminder of the dangerous role social media continues to play in the spreading of hate and the provocation of violence. The Jewish community calls on government and social media to redouble their efforts to monitor and halt this propagation of antisemitism and bigotry." Click here to read more.  

Ninety-three percent of Canadians are concerned by online hate speech and racism, according to a survey conducted by Canadian Race Relations Foundation and Abacus Data.  

“We are alarmed by the results of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation poll showing that nearly half of Canadians have seen or experienced online comments or content that incites violence. Like the overwhelming majority of those surveyed, we are deeply concerned and unsettled by the rise of online hate and racism in Canada. Canadian Jews hold the unfortunate distinction of being the most frequently targeted minority when it comes to hate crime, and we understand all too well the deadly real-world consequences of this frightening phenomenon,” said Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) Vice-President, External Affairs & General Counsel, Richard Marceau. “The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs has been at forefront of efforts urging the federal government to adopt a national strategy to combat online hate. This poll only confirms the urgency for the federal government to act quickly and decisively on online hate in Canada. 

A Vancouver synagogue virtual gathering was Zoombombed by a man denying the Holocaust. Synagogue co-chair David Kauffman said that the man signed into the gathering had a “classically Jewish sounding name” and his  video off and microphone muted for most of the service before disrupting at “a screaming level.” 

“Having someone jump into what’s really a religious service—where people are quite open, vulnerable, and caring—and to have that kind of hateful invective thrown into the middle of the service, it’s very disturbing,” Kauffman added. “When people are coming to a religious service, we’re trying to connect to our spiritual selves. We’re in community. We’re expressing some of the sadness for the state the world is in and hope for the future.” 

Czech Republic  

Czech Republic

Dozens of protesters wear yellow Star of David to protest the coronavirus vaccine 

When: 8 January  

Where: Prague 

What: Dozens of people protested local government’s social distancing guidelines by wearing yellow stars reminiscent of Nazi Germany with the word "unvaccinated" printed on it.  

Israel's ambassador to the Czech Republic, Daniel Meron, wrote on his Twitter account: "The use of the Yellow Star of David in an anti-vaccination protest is a disgrace and an insult to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust." 

The Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic issued the following condemnation: 

“The Federation of Jewish Communities and the Foundation for Holocaust Victims condemn the textbook abuse and relativizing of a Holocaust symbol that is associated with the suffering of millions of people,” the Federation said on Facebook. 

“It is evident that it is necessary to constantly educate our society and to recommend that all who resort to such base displays visit the locations associated with the Nazi genocide both at home and abroad,” the organization added. “We thank all who publicly condemned these displays during the Sabbath today.” Click here to read more.  

France 

Map 06 france

Food courier in France refuses to serve Jews  

When: 7 January  

Where: France 

What: Two kosher restaurants in the city of Strasbourg were declined service by a third party-contracted delivery man, who allegedly said he did not want to serve Jews. 

A spokesperson for Deliveroo, the  delivery man’s employer, wrote in an email that the firm “takes a zero-tolerance approach to any form of antisemitic language,” and added that the “Driver will have their contract with Deliveroo ended with immediate effect once we have carried out the necessary due diligence to confirm the reports.” 

The owners of both restaurants issued complaints to police and alerted the Consistoire, French Jewry’s organization responsible for religious services, and the National Bureau Against Anti-Semitism. 

The man was sentenced to a four-month prison sentence and will be deported and not allowed to reenter the country for three years. Click here to read more.  

Graffiti painted on France’s Holocaust Memorial by vandals was discovered on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Reacting to the incident, the Israeli Embassy in France expressed “horror and anger” at the vandalism “on such a symbolic day.” Since August there have been at least three cases of antisemitic graffiti around the country.  

Germany  

Germany

Man assaulted in Berlin by attacker who shouted antisemitic insults 

When: 4 January 

Where: Berlin, Germany 

What: A 28-year-old man has been charged with assaulting a police officer after a separate altercation with a man where he shouted antisemitic insults.  

Sigmount Konigsberg, the Jewish community’s commissioner on antisemitism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he suspected that the original victim was not Jewish but was “pegged as a Jew.” Click here to learn more. 

In another incident, a rabbi in Offenbach, Germany was verbally assaulted with antisemitic slurs as he was walking home from synagogue with his children. The victim, Rabbi Gurewitz, wrote in a post on Facebook that the experience was “traumatic,” but that the response of witnesses to the attack had been exemplary. 

“People intervened from every window, shouted at the aggressor, defended us, and notified the police,” he wrote. “Some left their homes and followed him on foot or by car. It was a sudden explosion of love and support.” 

German police are also investigating a horrific antisemitic attack that occurred last year at a college fraternity party, where students yelled antisemitic slurs at a student and threw coins at him. 

The Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation asked visitors to not engage in winter sports at the memorial grounds, after individuals were seen sledding on graves. 

Memorial spokesperson Rikola-Gunnar Lüttgenau said in a statement that visitors are requested to “respect the dignity of the dead and refrain from any winter sports in the entire area of the former camp and its cemeteries. Sporting activities here are a violation of visitor regulations and a disturbance of the peace of the dead.” 

Over 56,000 people—mostly Jews—were murdered in the concentration camp.  

Greece 

Greece
Greece

Antisemitic cartoon published comparing concentration camps to studies at universities 

When: 16 January 

Where: Greece 

What: A cartoon published in Efimerida ton Syntakton depicted universities as the Auschwitz concentration camp, and used the phrase “Studies make you free,” a reference to the words “Work will make you free” on the entrance gates of the camp.  

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece described the cartoon as a  “hideous and vulgar instrumentalization of the Holocaust for political purposes,” adding that it equalizes “the gates of Auschwitz with the gates of universities, and the prisoners in this horrific extermination camp with the students.” 

“In any case, the newspaper’s expressed respect towards the victims of the Holocaust and its firm position against antisemitism cannot be used as excuses for the publication of such cartoons that insult both the memory of the victims and the survivors alike, by trivializing the place of their martyrdom,” the Athens-based group said. 

“The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, the Greek Jews, those of us who passed through the gates of Auschwitz, survived and are still alive, as well as the descendants of the victims, will never stop denouncing every attempt to diminish and exploit Holocaust, which leads to oblivion and the distortion of history,” it added. Click here to read more.  

Oceania  

Oceania

Antisemitic cartoon compares Zionism to Nazis  

When: January 

Where: New Zealand 

What: A far-left website in New Zealand shared an antisemitic cartoon three times, depicting Zionism as a virus and featuring an “S” in the shape of the Nazi “SS.” The International Holocaust Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism cites “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” as an example of antisemitism. Click here to read more.  

Poland 

Poland

Wall of Jewish cemetery near Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp vandalized 

When: 10 January  

Where: Oświęcim, Poland 

What: The wall of a Jewish cemetery near the Auschwitz- Birkenau concentration camp in Poland was defaced with swastikas and other Nazi symbols over the weekend, prompting local officials to condemn the vandalism and to promise to crack down on those responsible. 

The incident was condemned by Janusz Chwierut, the mayor of Oświęcim, who described the imagery on the walls as “fascist symbols”. 

"Auschwitz is also a symbol of the centuries-old coexistence of the Jewish and Christian communities, and the inhabitants of pre-war Auschwitz are buried in the Jewish cemetery. Such actions undermine our common memory,” Chwierut wrote. Click here to read more.  

Additionally, on Friday, January 22, Poland confirmed Tomasz Rzymkowski, a man who has openly accused “the powerful Jewish lobby in the USA” of attempting to swindle money, as the new minister of education. 

Russia  

Russia

Professor who denied Holocaust fired  

When: 28 January  

Where: St. Petersburg 

What: Vladimir Matveyev, a controversial lecturer who has denied the Holocaust, was fired. Among the hateful comments Matveyev uttered were that “no gas chambers were found to kill people in concentration camps,” “the gas was used by the Germans for disinfection” and “six million dead Jews are a fiction.” Click here to read more.  

Sweden 

Sweden

Antisemitic propaganda in Sweden on the night of International Holocaust Remembrance Day 

When: 27 January 

Where: Linköping and Gothenburg, Sweden 

What: Antisemitic propaganda was seen in three location in Linköping, as well as a similar incident in Gothenburg across the Eriksberg crane.  The message in Gothenberg read “the Holocaust is a scam” was discovered on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The hateful rhetoric has been removed and an investigation is ongoing. Click here to read more.  

Ukraine 

Ukraine

Hundreds of Ukranians march to honor Nazi collaborators 

When: 1 January  

Where: Kyiv, Ukraine  

What: Hundreds of Ukrainians marched with torches in an annual tribute to Stepan Bandera who collaborated with Nazi Germany. 

According to the online Ukrainian newspaper Pravda Ukraine, many participants waved banners carrying the symbol of the far-right Svoboda party, and others proclaiming: “Nationalism is our religion. Bandera is our prophet.” 

“We strongly condemn any glorification of collaborators with the Nazi regime. It is time for Ukraine to come to terms with its past,” Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Joel Lion wrote on Twitter. Click here to read more.  

United Kingdom 

Map 09 united kingdom

Israeli soccer star Nir Bitton subjected to antisemitic abuse  

When: 4 January 

Where: Scotland 

What: Several fans took to social media to blame Bitton for the Celtic Football Club's defeat, hurling insults that included “dirty Jew bastard” and “Zionist rat.” The fans also targeted Bitton’s wife on Instagram and threatened the lives of the couple's children. 

The incident was condemned across the political aisle, including by Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s Justice Minister, who issued a condemnation of the “disgusting” abuse directed at Bitton, saying, “Antisemitism deserves the same contempt as Islamophobia and any other prejudice.” Click here to read more.  

Additionally, police in London are currently investigating red crosses that have been painted on Jewish homes around the city. 

In response to a different incident, police are investigating a man who chased after Haredim in Stamford Hill, London with a stick on a Shabbat in early January.

In another developement, a young British neo-Nazi has been sentenced to 4 years of jail time for calling for the eradication of all Jews. 

United States 

Map 10 united states

White supremacist among the Trump supporters who stormed US Capitol 

When: 6 January 

Where: Washington DC 

What: Avowed white supremacists, members of far-right groups, including the violent Proud Boys, and a leading promoter of the QAnon conspiracy theory were among the members of the angry crowd who violently occupied the US Capitol. 

Photographs of the insurrection captured a man wearing a shirt emblazoned with “Camp Auschwitz,” a reference to the Nazi concentration camp, a man carrying a confederate flag, and other antisemitic and racist imagery.  

Following the certification of the election of President Joseph R. Biden Jr.  by the United States Congress, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder released the following statement condemning the violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol by insurrectionists seeking to overturn the election:  

“Today is a victory for the perseverance of democracy after the brutal onslaught on our nation’s integrity and historical traditions that we witnessed yesterday. I commend Vice President Pence and the members of the U.S. Congress for upholding American Constitutional norms and reminding us of the majesty of our traditions.   

“At the same time, I unambiguously condemn the thugs and criminals who yesterday epitomized the worst elements of society by vandalizing the sacred halls and chambers of Congress, together with all who incited and abetted their unconscionable violence that also resulted in a tragic loss of life.  

 “Now is the time for all Americans of goodwill, regardless of our political or ideological views, to rally behind President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and ensure that our government will successfully defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and tackle the many challenges confronting our nation and the world.” Click here to read more.  

After video surfaced from a rally outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington showing U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R–Il.) telling the crowd that “Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future,’” WJC President Lauder sharply condemned her words. 

Ambassador Lauder said: “It is simply outrageous and obscene for anyone to hold out Hitler, who perpetrated the greatest genocide in history, as a role model for any reason. One might expect this from white supremacists or neo-Nazis, but hearing the words 'Hitler was right' from the mouth of a member of the United States Congress is beyond acceptable behavior by any standards.” 

In light of the hateful and antisemitic social media posts of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, WJC President Lauder called on the Republican leadership in Congress to repudiate  and to bar her from serving on any Congressional committees. 

WJC President Lauder said, “I am appalled by the blatantly antisemitic tropes and innuendo used by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in promoting her hate-filled ideology, including the delusionary QAnon conspiracy myth. Antisemitism, white supremacy, xenophobia, anti-Muslim bigotry, and all other forms of racial, ethnic or religious hatred have no place in our political discourse and represent the most dangerous elements of society. I call on the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives to unambiguously repudiate Rep. Greene and her noxious views, and on Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to bar her from serving on any Congressional committee.” 

A Confederate flag was found tied to the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City.  The NYPD did not confirm whether the flag was being investigated as a bias crime, but said that it was being investigated by the NYPD detective division, calling the act “atrocious.”  

“This is an atrocious attack on our community and on our institution and must be met with the swift and forceful response by law enforcement,” said Jack Kliger, the museum’s president and CEO. “The Confederate flag is a potent symbol of white supremacy, as evidenced by the events at the U.S. Capitol this week.” 

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