October 2020: Antisemitism in review - World Jewish Congress

October 2020: Antisemitism in review

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October 2020: Antisemitism in review

Jewish communities around the world remain vigilant and concerned amid unrelenting proliferations of xenophobia and antisemitism, alongside 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 October 2020. Among these incidents, a synagogue in Hamberg Germany was attacked on Sukkot, Jewish sites in Greece were vandalized for the third time in a month, and the Swedish city of Malmö suspended the Arab Book Fair amid revelation of an antisemitic book for sale. 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.  


Map 02 australia

Neo-Nazi group National Socialist Network expands  

When: October 

Where: Adelaide, Australia  

What: The Neo-Nazi group National Socialist Network has expanded into the South Australia city of Adelaide, the organization’s founder Jacob Hersant has confirmed to NCA NewsWire. According to Hersant, the neo-Nazi group remains active in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, as well as several other regional cities. Among its racist and inflammatory comments, the group has called for a “white revolution,” and openly described Indigenous Australians as “subhuman and monkeys.” Click here to read more.   


Map 04 canada

Swastika carved into tomb honoring Canada’s fallen 

When: 12 October 

Where:  Toronto, Canada  

What:  An unknown vandal carved an antisemitic symbol onto a tomb commemorating Canadian service members who fell during World War I. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the incident on Twitter, writing, "The antisemitic desecration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is completely unacceptable, and I strongly condemn this hateful act.” Click here to read more. 

A mosque was forced to temporarily close its doors after receiving a message that threatened a “Christ church [sic] all over again,” an apparent reference to the deadly terrorist attack in New Zealand last year. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) condemned the incident, tweeting, “Invoking the massacre of members of the #Muslim community in Christchurch to spread hate and foment fear in the Muslim community in Canada is despicable....[W]e stand with our Muslim neighbors in the face of it. It is our sincere hope that the police quickly arrest those responsible so they can face justice for this hate crime. 

Stickers are circulating around Nova Scotia with messaging that resembles the notoriously antisemitic book Protocols of the Elders of Zions. The stickers, which read “the Bug that Backfired COVID-19" along with a Star of David, push the conspiracy myth that Jews manufactured the pandemic.    



Neo-Nazi salutes displayed during anti-constitution protests 

When: 10 October 

Where: Santiago, Chile 

What: At a march against the movement for a new constitution in Chile, Neo-Nazis performed the Hitler salute. The rally also featured Neo-Nazi flags, as well as shirts with the initials ATP, short for “Aun Tenemos Patria,” (“We still have a homeland”), an often used slogan by the nationalist anti-immigration ATP movement. 

Reacting to the march, Executive Director of Comunidad Judia de Chile Marcelo Isaacson compare the images to Nazi Germany writing on Twitter, “Germany 1930? No, Chile Oct 2020. Hate takes over the streets of Chile.” Click here to read more.  



39-year-old man sentenced to year in prison for desecrating Jewish cemetery  

Where: Randers, Denmark 

When: 16 October 

What: A Danish court sentenced a 39-year-old man with neo-Nazi sympathies to a year in prison for desecrating a Jewish cemetery. The man desecrated more than 80 tombstones, overturned some and covered others with graffiti. The sentencing occurred after Nordic Resistance Movement activists held rallies outside Jewish sites across Scandinavia on Yom Kippur. Click here to read more.  


Map 06 france

Lawyer of HyperCacher attacker demands Jews tested for virus 

Where: France 

When: October 

What: Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, the lawyer representing the most prominent suspect accused of being an accomplice in the HyperCacher terrorist attack, asked the court to subject Jewish lawyers to a coronavirus test. One of the Jewish lawyers involved told the court: “This is a trial of antisemitism and yet even here Jews are being stigmatized. I will not allow this.” Click here to read more.   

There were several incidents involving vandalism of Jewish sites, including smearing swastikas on  columns near the Louvre museum and looting a kosher restaurant in Paris.    


Map 07 germany

WJC condemns Sukkot attack at Hamburg Synagogue, elevates call for government action to prevent, prosecute antisemitism 

When: 4 October 

Where: Hamburg, Germany  

What: During a Sukkot celebration for students at the Hohe Weide Synagogue in Hamburg, an individual wearing a military-style uniform hit one of the students in the head with a shovel, gravely injuring the student who was taken to the hospital. Police providing security for the synagogue apprehended and arrested the attacker, according to the Hamburg police. 

In response, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder declared: 

“As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Yom Kippur attack in Halle, Germany, which left two dead, I am saddened to learn that once again, this time on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a German Jewish community is confronting a violent, antisemitic act of terror. While thankfully, police on the scene acted quickly to stop the attacker from committing further violence, the security presence was not enough to deter this attacker from gravely injuring someone. 

“We must ask ourselves, and German local and national authorities must address the question – why does this keep happening? Why is antisemitism thriving, and why does anyone believe there is room for such hate? Our young people must not learn from those who hate. The German government must take responsibility in strengthening education so that the next generation understands that hatred of any kind is never permissible. The long-term viability of Jewish life in Germany depends on it. Click here to read more.  

The Weissensee Academy of Art Berlin is supporting  a program entitled “School for Unlearning Zionism.” The program denies the existence of the State of Israel. The Israeli embassy wrote that the Weissensee Academy of Art Berlin’s decision to “[host] a workshop whose title already negates Israel’s existence is an embrace of antisemitism... There should be no tolerance for the delegitimization of Israel and antisemitism in Germany today.” The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s univeral working definition for antisemitism, which was adopted by the German federal government, includes the denial of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. The controversy comes as German politicians are also urging the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution to investigate a group of elite German university fraternities for antisemitism.  

Murals honoring the victims of the Halle Yom Kippur terror attack were vandalized, as well as a mezuzah  at  the museum of a Berlin-synagogue. 

A 14-year-old high school student was arrested after authorities believed he was planning an attack on a mosque or synagogue. A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office said the teenager allegedly carried out at least one trial with explosives in preparation for the attack 



Jewish sites vandalized in Greece for third time this month 

When: October 

Where: Greece 

What: Greek police are investigating a series of vandalizations a Jewish cemetery and Holocaust monuments  

In response to the vandalism at the Holocaust Monument of Thessaloniki, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece said, "Tolerating the vandalism of cemeteries and monuments means tolerating the vandalism of memory and civilization; it represents the toleration of antisemitism. We urge the law enforcement authorities to do their utmost to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Let us not tolerate behaviors that aim at imposing obscurantism in our country." Click here to read more.  


Gravestones in Republic of Moldova vandalized with swastikas


When: October 

Where: Chisinau, Moldova  

What:  Dozens of gravestones were topped over and spray-painted with swastikas. President of the Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova Alexander Bilinkis condemned the incident saying: “Vandalism at the Jewish cemetery is not a new phenomenon, but its increased frequency that has caused serious concerns, outrage and pain.”  Click here to read more.  



Dutch anti-coronavirus restriction protesters shout 'Heil Hitler' 

When: 17 October 

Where: Den Bosch, Netherlands 

What: Dozens of demonstrators protesting the government’s coronavirus restrictions shouted "Heil Hitler." A police spokesman told the Algemeiner that the incident “could ultimately lead to arrests.” Click here to read more.  

FOX Sports Netherlands’ live broadcast of a match between the Amsterdam team Ajax and a rival from the city of Groningen featured artificial antisemitic chants. The incident occurred as many professional sports stadiums are empty because of the coronavirus pandemic, leading many TV stations to add artificial audience sounds when they broadcast games. Click here to read more. 



Slovakia’s far-right leader sentenced to 4 years in jail for using neo-Nazi symbols 

When: Incident on 14 March 2017, conviction on 12 October 2020  

Where: Slovakia 

What: Marian Kotleba, the head of the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia, was sentenced to four years in prison for displaying neo-Nazi symbols. In March 2017, Kotleba presented three poor families with checks for 1,488 euros, a reference to two popular white supremacist numeric symbols. Click here to read more.  

South Africa  

Map south africa
Map south africa

First conviction in South Africa for antisemitic abuse 

When: 23 October 

Where: Randburg, South Africa  

What: The Randburg Magistrates Court convicted Matome Letsoalo for of crimen injuria – a crime defined as “unlawfully and intentionally impairing the dignity or privacy of another person” – for a string of vile and abusive posts targeting the South Africa Board of Deputies (SAJBD). Click here to read more.  



Spanish politician blames Jews for Israeli government treatment of Palestinians 

When: Spain 

Where: 7 October  

What: Sonia Vivas, a member of the Podemos party and a city councilor in Palma, said Jews should be held accountable for supporting a government “that constantly violates the fundamental rights of Palestinians.”  The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, which Spain adopted in July, includes holding individual Jews responsible for the actions of the government of the State of Israel. Click here to read more.  



Malmö suspends Arab Book Fair amid revelation of antisemitic book for sale 

When: October 

Where: Malmö, Sweden  

What: The book in question, “The Synagogue of Satan: The Secret History of Jewish World Domination”, accuses Jews of using power and money to “foment” a civil war, and accuses Israel and Jewish groups of engineering the 9/11 attacks. Click here to read more.  



Ukrainian nationalist decries ‘occupation’ by ‘Jewish clan’ 

When: 14 October  

Where: Kyiv, Ukraine 

What: Protestors in a nationalist march raised a banner denouncing the country’s “occupation and robbery” by “the Dnipro Jewish clan of Vova Zelensky,” a reference to Ukraine’s Jewish president, Vlodymyr Zelensky.  Executive director of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine Mikhail Tkach described the banner as an act of incitement and called on authorities to punish those responsible for it. Click here to read more.  

Three unidentified men assaulted two Jewish teenagers near the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, an 18th-century Hasidic leader.  

United Kingdom 

Map 09 united kingdom

World Jewish Congress applauds British Labour Party suspension of Jeremy Corbyn 

When: 29 October 

Where: Britain  

What: The Labour Party has suspended former leader Jeremy Corbyn following the publication of a report finding that the party engaged in antisemitism under hisleadership.  

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder responded to the suspension saying, “Over the course of Mr. Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour Party became known for its antisemitism and its cynical approach to the Jewish community of Great Britain. Today’s findings, as well as the party’s decision to suspend Mr. Corbyn from its ranks, are a much needed and welcome step in ridding the British political system of his brand of hatred and contempt. We commend Labour’s new leader, Keir Starmer, for his proactive approach to combating antisemitism within the UK’s political leadership.” 

Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl also welcomed Corbyn’s suspension. Click here to read more.  

A study found that nearly 80% of the top 27 leading anti-vaccination groups posted antisemitic content on their social media pages. Among the conspiracy myths propagated were that Jews created the coronavirus, and that Jews are “colluding behind the scenes to destabilize banks and countries through the spread of the virus.” Click here to read more.  

United Kingdom Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick was put under police protection following receiving several death threats and antisemitic hate mail. Overall, a report issued in early October found that  the number of racially or religiously aggravated offences in England and Wales rose by at least 34% in June and about 17% in July. 

There were also several incidents of antisemitic graffiti recorded in October. In Liverpool, a new far-right group, Hundred Handers, posted sticker with antisemitic messages. The stickers read “Britain Is Under Occupation” over a superimposed Star of David, as well as “They Are Sexualizing Your CHILDREN.” In London, Palestinian activists sprayed red liquid on the headquarters of an Israeli defense firm. A similar incident took place at Scottish soccer team’s stadium, where the stadium was defaced with red paint and anti-Israel graffiti.  

United States 

Map 10 united states

Synagogue service zoombombed  

When: 12 October  

Where:  West Hartford, Connecticut  

What: The Emmanuel Synagogue’s evening service was interrupted by two zoombombers, who shared pornographic videos and Nazi imagery while allegedly shouting antisemitic comments. President of Emmanuel Synagogue Alan Simon said, “It makes me feel sad that there are people in this world whose purpose is to hurt others…We understand that there are both good and bad things that happen and this is a bad thing.” Click here to read more.  

There were a handful of incidents with antisemitic graffiti and vandalization recorded in October. In Brooklyn, New York, a man was arrested on hate crime charges for allegedly vandalizing an Orthodox synagogue. In Long Island, New York, a Police Athletic League building was broken into and covered in spray-painted swastikas. Several business owners in Ithaca, New York, were targeted with a series of vandalisms motivated antisemitism and racism. In Dallas, Texas, a large swastika was painted atop an abandoned parking garage.  

There were also several incidents involving assault. A teenager in San Diego was arrested for assaulting a rabbi in the University City neighborhood. A Colorado man pleaded guilty on federal hate crime charges for plotting to blow up a synagogue.  

Protestors chanted “piggy Morty” outside of Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro’s home. Schapiro, who is Jewish, describing the events, writing, “Many gathered outside my home this weekend into the early hours of the morning, chanting ‘f— you Morty’ and ‘piggy Morty,'” he wrote. “The latter comes dangerously close to a longstanding trope against observant Jews like myself. Whether it was done out of ignorance or out of anti-Semitism, it is completely unacceptable, and I ask them to consider how their parents and siblings would feel if a group came to their homes in the middle of the night to wake up their families with such vile and personal attacks.” 

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