May 2021: Antisemitism in review - World Jewish Congress

May 2021: Antisemitism in review

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May 2021:  Antisemitism in review



Pro-Palestinian protesters chant in support of massacre of Jews

When: 13 May

Where: Austria, Vienna

What: Approximately 2,500 protesters in Austria rallied against Israel’s actions in Gaza, chanting in Arabic “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning.” The Khaybar Massacre occurred in the 7th century, when Muslims massacred and expelled Jews from the town of Khaybar, located in modern-day Saudi Arabia. Click here to read more.

A passenger on a train was punched in the face after he asked a fellow passenger to stop denying the Holocaust and engaging in antisemitic rhetoric.

Three people verbally and physically assaulted a non-Jewish young women who was reading a book called "the Jews in the modern world." According to media reports, police questioned the victim why she was reading such a book, considering the recent violence between Hamas and Israel, and asked if she was Jewish. When the victim responded that she was not Jewish, the police told her it was therefore not an antisemitic incident and that she should forget the incident.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance defines antisemitism, as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”


Map 02 australia

TikTok user promotes violence against Jews

When: 18 May

Where: Victoria, Australia

What: Ahead of a pro-Israel rally in Victoria, a 19-year-old Muslim woman posted a TikTok video allegedly implicating calls for violence against the Jewish community. The video was captioned, "If you’re from Victoria, Australia, you know what to do.”

There were several inciteful comments on the video, including: “I’m pulling up with AK-47s”, “Should we get the IEDs? [improvised explosive devices]”, “We coming to burn their flags”, “Who’s trying to shoot?” and “Soon Inshallah.”

A Victoria Police spokesperson told The Australia Jewish News the video had been “forwarded on to our Victoria Police Monitoring and Assessment Centre for assessment.” Click here to read more.

At a pro-Palestine rally in Sydney, a swastika was imposed on an Israeli flag, replacing the Star of David as the center emblem. Included in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism are eleven reference examples to aid the identification of antisemitism, including “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

A Nazi slogan and two swastikas were spray-painted on a train in Brisbane. Queensland Police confirmed it was investigating the “willful damage” and appealed to anyone with information to come forward.

“More broadly, the Queensland Police Service works closely with other state and federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies in order to understand, investigate and respond to potential instances of extremism of any kind.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed  that Australia would boycott the anti-Israel Durban Conference this year, stating, “we will not associate Australia with one-sided and contentious language that singles out Israel or an event that champions such language.”



Belgian MP shares song calling for violence against “sons of Zion”

When: 12 May

Where: Belgium

What:  Belgian MP Rajae Maouane, co-president of the Greens Ecolo party, posted a song on Instagram, by a reportedly Hezbollah-affiliated singer, calling for armed action against the “sons of Zion.” The Belgian League Against Antisemitism (LBCA) condemned Maouane’s post as “antisemitic hatred,” adding, “This incitement to action endorsed by the co-president of Ecolo is the culmination of an antisemitic shift that has been observed for several years in the leadership of the Green party.” Click here to read more.

Pro-Palestinian protestors burned Israeli flags and yelled antisemitic slogans while waving  Hamas flags. Responding to the demonstration, Israeli Ambassador to Belgium Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted ‘’Shouts of murderous hatred against my country and my people in the streets of Brussels. And all in the name of “freedom of speech.” In a similar incident, pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Belgium chanted in support of the Khaybar massacre.

In a separate incident, a top Belgian soccer player led supporters in singing an antisemitic song, chanting “I’d rather die than be a sporting Jew.” Responding to the controversy, Georges-Louis Bouchez, who represents the liberal MR Party in the Belgian Senate, said in a statement, “I await an explanation and an apology from Noa Lange and sanctions at the level of Club Brugge and the Royal Belgian Football Association.”



Pro-Palestinian demonstrators attacked pro-Israel protesters

When: 16 May

Where: Toronto, Canada

What:  A group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators swarmed and brutally assaulted a small number of pro-Israel protestors, including an elderly man. Reacting to the incident, the WJC-affiliated Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said, “We condemn in the strongest terms these brazen acts of assault, intimidation, and hate targeting members of Canada’s Jewish community and supporters of Israel. There is absolutely no justification for political violence of any kind in our streets, whatever one’s cause may be.”

“To put it bluntly: Those who hate Israel so much that it inspires them to egg, spit on, or assault their fellow Canadians aren’t just a threat to Jews. They threaten the very fabric of Canadian society.”

“Like all Canadians of goodwill, Canada’s Jewish community seeks peace and a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike. At the same time, we urge our neighbors of all backgrounds to join us in condemning these disturbing acts – and stand with us against antisemitism and all forms of bigotry.” Click here to read more.

A Hitler Youth flag was seen on a property in Alberta, following a similar incident days before. The property owner refused to take down the flag, prompting an investigation. County Reeve Bart Guyon called the flags “disturbing,” adding, “There is no place in Brazeau County for symbols of hatred and racism. These flags are disturbing, inappropriate, and do not represent the values of the people of Brazeau County. We call upon the landowner to remove them immediately.”

Canadian MP Anthony Housefather, a regional co-chair of the WJC’s International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP),  confirmed that Canada would not participate in the upcoming Durban conference and all other events commemorating the Durban Declaration, describing the events as a “forum for antisemitism,”


Map france
Map france

Facebook page supporting Sarah Halimi’s murderer discovered by Jewish activists

When: 2 May

Where: France

What: Jewish activists discovered a “Koboili Traore Support Committee” Facebook page, honoring the man who murdered a Jewish woman, Sarah Halimi, and was subsequently dismissed from criminal trial last month. The page contained 35 members, including known neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers before it was removed from Facebook. Click here to read more.

A monument honoring one of the four Jewish victims of the 2015 Hypercacher kosher supermarket terrorist attack was vandalized.  Francois Pupponi — who represents the district that includes Sarcelles — strongly condemned the desecration, saying he wants “the vandals arrested and punished to the maximum for their despicable acts.” Pupponi pledged to work closely with local law enforcement “to do everything possible to identify and arrest the culprits as quickly as possible.”



Synagogues and Holocaust memorial vandalized

When:  May

Where: Dusseldorf, Bonn, and Münster, Germany

What:  Among a spate of incidents in Germany, a synagogue and a Holocaust memorial in Dusseldorf were vandalized on 18 May; in a similar incident, several people attacked the entrance of a synagogue in Bonn; and outside Münster, Israeli flags were burned.

Sharon Fehr, chairman of the Münster Jewish Community, thanked the security forces and eyewitnesses who helped prevent the attack, saying: “Thanks to the quick intervention of the police in Muenster, something worse was probably prevented. We also thank citizens near the synagogue, who informed the police immediately.... What remains are highly insecure members of the Jewish community in Münster, who are already very worried about their relatives and friends in Israel.” Click here to learn more.

A 44-year-old Munich man was arrested after assaulting a man he called a  “Jewish pig”. The victim, who was not Jewish, sustained minor injuries.

About 200 anti-Israel demonstrators marched to a synagogue in Gelsenkirchen, where some chanted “sh*tty Jews.” Police pushed the demonstrators, who were waving Palestinian flags, away from the synagogue.

German police in the northern city of Bremen arrested a 42-year-old man for planning an attack on a synagogue. The alleged suspect was previously arrested for threatening others, inflicting bodily harm, committing robbery as well as holding a series of narcotics violations.



Italian police seize weapons of far-right group

When: May

Where: Italy

What: Italian police seized Nazi flags and knives, ammunition, guns, and fascist memorabilia from the homes of the members of a white supremacist movement who were planning to form a new fascist party.

Eugenio Spina, the head of the police branch dedicated to fighting terrorism and extremism, told Reuters that the group members denied the existence of the coronavirus pandemic, calling it a plot by financial and religious lobbies. Click here to read more.



Dutch party equates COVID measures to Nazism on national Holocaust Remembrance Day

When: 4-5 May

Where: Netherlands

What: The Dutch conservative party suggested on the country’s Holocaust Memorial Day that COVID-19 measures have undone the liberation from the Nazis. The message came via a banner, which read “On May 5 we will remember 75 years of freedom. 1945-2020.”

“This analogy by Forum for Democracy is unacceptable,” the Central Jewish Board of the Netherlands, CJO, wrote in a statement Monday. “It is deeply offensive and inexcusable to make political statements on the backs of victims and their relatives on the week of the national commemorations.” Click here to read more.



Synagogue smeared with “Free Palestine, Allah” graffiti

When: May

Where: Ceuta, Spain

What: “Free Palestine, Allah” graffiti was smeared on the building of a synagogue in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa on 13 May.  

The WJC-affiliated Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain (FCJE) strongly condemned the graffiti, saying, “Graffiti calling for ‘Free Palestine’, implies that Jews, in this case from Ceuta, are to be held responsible for the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”

“The FCJE, as the representative organization of Spanish Jews, calls on the authorities to prosecute such behavior and to take every measure necessary to protect our communities.”

“Spanish Jewish communities live in peace and harmony with our neighbors, and we do not cater to such accusations,” the statement concluded. Click here to learn more.



Man assaulted while acting in solidarity with Jewish community

When: 26 May

Where: Gothenburg, Sweden

What: A non-Jewish man who wore a kippah in a show of solidarity with Swedish Jews was assaulted by several men and was called “Jewish bastard” by at least one of them. According to a witness, the incident “happened very quickly...He didn’t have a chance to defend himself.” Click here to read more.

Former Prime Minister Carl Bildt compared Israeli security forces to Nazis. Following an outcry, told the national tabloid Expressen that he regretted his choice of words and “did not actually compare Israel's policy with the Nazis.”

There were several reported incidents of antisemitic bullying in schools, in light of the recent Hamas-Israel conflict. In one instance, a group of four or five boys approached a 13-year-old Jewish student in Stockholm and twice desecrated an Israeli flag in front of him and said, “This is your flag.” The boys also called him names and cursed at him in Arabic, leading a teacher to advise the victim to wear his shirt with a Star of David on it, inside out.



Swiss far-right personality fined over antisemitic remarks

When: 5 May

Where: Basel, Switzerland

What: The former leader of the far-right Basel Swiss Nationalist Party Tobias Steiger was fined for remarks blaming Jews for World War I and II. The remarks were made during a demonstration in November 2018 in the northwest city of Basel. Steiger has also questioned the Holocaust on Facebook, according to Keystone-SDA news agency. Click here to read more.



When: 31 May

Where: Kremenchuk, Ukraine

What: In the city of Kremenchuk, a bullet hole was found in a synagogue, and grave robbers allegedly raided a Holocaust-era mass grave, exposing and scattering human remains.

Jewish sites have been vandalized multiple times in Kremenchuk in recent years. From 2013 to 2016, the tomb of a local Hasidic rabbi was vandalized multiple times. The synagogue has also been vandalized before. In 2012, unidentified individuals attempted to set it on fire and in 2009, paint was splashed over the building. Click here to read more.

United Kingdom

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Convoy of anti-Israel cars blared violent threats toward the Jewish community

When: 16 May

Where: London, United Kingdom

What: A convoy of cars decked with Palestinian flags drove through London blaring “F**k the Jews, rape their daughters, free Palestine” over a loudspeaker.  Responding to the incident, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “There is no place for antisemitism in our society. Ahead of Shavuot, I stand with Britain’s Jews who should not have to endure the type of shameful racism we have seen today.”  Four people were later arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offenses. Click here to read more.

The words ‘Kike Free Palestine’, along with a swastika, were daubed on the front door of the Adat Yeshua Synagogue in Norwich. 

Rabbi Binyamin Sheldrake said "Our response to this is not one of hate, we're not going to allow people who do this to actually disturb how we live our lives as Jews... our response always is to pray for people who do this kind of thing. "Our response is not one of hatred but one of love."

Police in Borehamwood launched a hate crime investigation after two families reported their mezuzah was desecrated by an unknown individual. 

Responding to the incident, Senior Rabbi of Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue Alex Chapper, said, “I’m appalled to hear that Jewish homes have been targeted locally. I have been in contact with the local police, and we’ll be working together to enable an appropriate response to support and reassure the Jewish community. If I can offer any assistance to anyone affected by this, please do be in touch.”

In a statement, Hertsmere Chief Inspector Mark Bilsdon said: “I would like to make it clear to the local Jewish community that we will not tolerate antisemitism.

“I would also like to reassure you that we have reported these incidents centrally so that it can feed into the wider intelligence picture across the UK.

“The victims are understandably shaken by what has happened and we will be putting them in touch with a specially trained hate crime officer in case they want extra support.”

Demonstrators in London carrying Palestinian flags shouted in Arabic supporting the Khaybar massacre.

A rabbi was taken to King George’s Hospital with cuts on the top of his head and around one eye after being assaulted by two individuals. According to media reports, antisemitic language was used during the attack.

Responding to the incident, Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper said, “We know this is a very important time – a time for communities to come together, to be around each other and celebrate. We do not want anyone to feel that they cannot do that safely.

“Officers have spent the day speaking with the Jewish community to provide reassurance.”

Two men have been arrested for their roles in the attack.

United States

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Map united states

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators attack Jews at Los Angeles restaurant

When:  15 May

Where: Los Angeles, California

What: In two separate incidents, Jews were attacked by groups of pro-Palestinian protesters in Los Angeles.

In one incident, a group of men waving Palestinian flags attacked diners at a sushi restaurant, throwing punches, bottles, and other objects. In a video capturing part of the episode, a man with a megaphone shouted slogans like “Israel kills children” from one of the cars, before multiple men left their vehicles to confront people enjoying their dinner. 

“We have to recognize this for what it is: It’s anti-Jewish and antisemitic,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in an interview. “You have to be specific and say what it is.”

“It was a hate crime,” a witness told CBSLA. “It was prepared, they came to fight with Jewish people.” Another witness told the station that dozens of men ran asked, “Who’s Jewish?” Click here to read more.

Police in Skokie, Illinois reported that a window was smashed at the Persian Hebrew Congregation and someone left a pro-Palestine sign and flag outside. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.  A similar incident occurred in Tucson, Arizona, where a vandal smashed a synagogue’s door,  leaving a "rock-size hole not big enough for anyone to enter."

An Orthodox Jewish man in Los Angeles was chased down by two vehicles as the passengers’ wave Palestinian flags. According to the victim, who was walking to his synagogue, the perpetrators were screaming "Allahu Akbar" at him.

A Holocaust memorial was defaced in Portland, Oregon.  “It’s very twisted. It’s very visceral, I have to say, when you hear about something — I think my whole body just went numb,” said Judy Margles, the director of the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education. The city’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, condemned the vandalism, writing on Twitter, “The damage to the Oregon Holocaust Memorial is heartbreaking, and it’s particularly painful that it happened during Jewish American Heritage Month,” Wheeler said on Twitter. “I denounce hate crimes, antisemitism, and white supremacy.”

A State Department spokesperson confirmed that the United States will not participate in the upcoming anti-Israel Durban Conference, which is scheduled to take place in September.

“The United States will not attend or participate in any events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action or the World Conference on Racism, which preceded it,” the spokesperson stated.

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