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 September 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.
‘Get Zionism out of Argentina’ spray-painted along road
When: 1 September
Where: Mendoza, Argentina
What: The phrases “Get Zionism out of Argentina” and “Israel Terrorism” were spray-painted on a road in a small city in the Mendoza province. The Legal and Technical Undersecretariat of Luján de Cuyo filed a criminal complaint in the Public Prosecutor's Office for the graffiti. The incident was condemned by Marcos Horenstein, a representative of the Mendoza chapter of the WJC-affiliated Delegation of Israelite Associations of Argentina (DAIA), who said, “It is very uncomfortable to see… it is irritating, but we are pleased by the quick reaction of the local government.” Click here to read more.
Jewish leader targeted with antisemitic graffiti
When: 7 September
Where: Melbourne, Australia
What: Antisemitic graffiti with the words “Stop [Victoria Premier] Dan Andrews”, with a Magen David replacing the “a” in Dan and a swastika replacing the “s” in Andrews, were smeared along a road in Melbourne. Executive Council of Australian Jewry Co-CEO Alex Ryvchin lamented, “[t]his is absolutely appalling. When segments of society descend into conspiratorial thinking the evil of antisemitism always surfaces.” Click here to read more.
In a different incident, several antisemitic and hateful comments by Ismail al-Wahwah, the spiritual leader of a radical Islamaist group in Australia, recently came to light. In a 2017 speech, Ismail al-Wahwah said, “To the entity of the Jews we say: Do not rejoice … The day will come when you will cry blood. There will be no place for you in Palestine.” The comments were referred for legal action by the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies to New South Wales Attorney-General Mark Speakman, who said he was “horrified by the shocking statements of violence.”
In another incident, Dymocks, an Australian bookstore chain with 60 shops across the country, was found selling an antisemitic book used by some Nazis to justify the Holocaust, entitled The Jews and their Lies.
Swastikas smeared on Canadian streets
When: 7 September
Where: Quebec, Canada
What: Two swastikas were spray-painted on a sidewalk and a road in Greensville, Quebec. Resident David Arbuckle, who reported the swastika to authorities, told The Spectator: “I was shocked and disgusted that someone took the opportunity to purposefully and deliberately spread hate messaging in our community.” The incident is being investigated by the city’s hate crime unit. Click here to learn more.
A Canadian Quaker publication, Quaker Concern, claimed in an article that Israel was responsible for American police officers’ violence against minorities.
White supremacist and Muslim jailed for antisemitic incidents
What: An Arab man who converted to Judaism was robbed outside Paris while wearing a Star of David necklace. The assailant, identified only as Mohammed, reportedly called the victim a “dirty Jew.” The court ruled that Mohammad will receive one year in jail. In Brest, a white supremacist called an employee of social services a “dirty Jewess” and performed a Nazi salute. The man was sentenced to two months in prison. Click here to learn more.
Albert Camus College was vandalized with graffiti reading “Mort A Israel” [sic] (Death to Israel). An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
A Jewish TV presenter was nearly attacked for condemning the antisemitic lyrics of rapper Freeze Corleone. Following the public condemnation, an unidentified man entered the studio and confronted the presenter with antisemitic slurs before being removed by security and taken into custody.
The far-right activist Hervé Lalin, known as Ryssen, was imprisoned after he made several antisemitic comments. In 2017, Ryssen posted a video on YouTube entitled "The Jews, incest and hysteria," which suggested that the Jewish people came from incestuous relationships.
Germany dismisses head military intelligence official after string of neo-Nazi scandals
When: 24 September
What: The head of Germany’s military counterintelligence service resigned after criticism of his office’s investigation into far right-wing extremism in the German Special Forces (KSK).
In June, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced she would disband the KSK, after investigators discovered Nazi memorabilia and an extensive arsenal of stolen ammunition and explosives on the property of a sergeant major. Click here to read more.
In another incident, a university student in Heidelberg accused a fraternity of antisemitic hate crimes at a party. The student states that once it was known he was Jewish, he was beaten and pelted with coins. Police are currently investigating the incident.
Twenty-nine German police officers were suspended for sharing doctored images of refugees in gas chambers and pictures of Hitler. The officers are also accused of using far-right chatrooms to spread content prohibited by the German constitution.
The Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism Berlin, or RIAS, documented 410 incidents during the first half of 2020.
Neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) launches a string of coordinated actions on Yom Kippur
When: 28 September
Where: Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway
What: The neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) organization launched a string of coordinated actions on Yom Kippur targeting Jews in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. Actions included vandalism at Jewish institutions and the distribution of antisemitic handbills in several Swedish cities, including outside a synagogue in Norrköping, Sweden.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder sharply condemned the blatant expressions of antisemitism on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, saying: “This Yom Kippur marks the second year in a row that antisemitism has reared its ugly head in Europe. Last year, we saw a murderous antisemitic attack targeting the synagogue in Halle, Germany, and this year, the modern-day successors of the Nazis of the 1930s and 1940s, known as the Nordic Resistance Movement, have mounted a vile and vicious campaign of hate against Jews in Northern Europe.
“The Nordic Resistance Movement represents a violent, racist, antisemitic ideology, and should be outlawed. Perpetrators of this type of incitement against Jews, horrifically disseminated on the most solemn day of the Jewish year, must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
“On behalf of the World Jewish Congress, I call on all Nordic governments to follow Finland’s example and move swiftly to ban the Nordic Resistance Movement and rid its violent propaganda from our streets. It is the responsibility of governments and law enforcement to ensure that Jewish religious and community institutions have suitable police protection, to enable Jews to practice freely, without intimidation or fear. National parliaments must ensure that there is a suitable legal framework to address all expressions of hate and intolerance. Until the respective governments take these forceful steps, we cannot truly say that we are fighting the scourge of antisemitism.” Click here to read more.
Iranian Supreme leader tweets UAE-Israel deal the result of “filthy Zionists agents”
When: 1 September
What: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khemenei tweeted that the UAE’s recognition agreement with Israel is the result of “filthy Zionists agents of the US.” Khamenei also referred to Senior Adviser Jared Kushner as “the Jewish member of Trump’s family." US Assistant Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Ellie Cohanim condemned the tweet and called on Twitter to remove the “vile antisemite” from its platform. Click here to learn more.
Masud Shojaei-Tabatabai, the director of Iran’s Art Bureau announced the bureau would host a Holocaust cartoon contest titled “The Atonement of the Holocaust.” Masud Shojaei-Tabatabai, the director of the bureau’s Visual Arts Office, justified the exhibit by saying it was a response to the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s republication of cartoons insulting Prophet Muhammad. He added, “I believe Charlie Hebdo is totally in the service of the Zionist regime and actually intends to meet the goals of the Zionists, which is the main reason behind republishing the same cartoons about the Prophet of kindness Muhammad.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed the ails of Iranian society on “Zionism, reactionary approaches, and US extremists.”
Picture of Nazi rally found in Volkswagen shop
When: 5 September
Where: Coyoacan, Mexico
What: A customer in a Volkswagen shop called for the shop to remove a picture of a Nazi rally hanging on its wall. Volkswagen apologized for the incident, saying in a tweet, “we have a history that we have learned from… the images do not correspond to our corporate image or that of the distributors. We will take action.” In the 1930’s Volkswagen manufactured military vehicles for the Nazis. Click here to learn more.
Dutch postal service mails package with anti-Jewish expletive
When: 4 September
What: A package was from the Netherlands to Israel with the words “F**CKJEWS” replacing the mailing addresses zip code. The Dutch postal service is investigating the incident. Click here to read more.
Approximately 20 tombstones vandalized in third incident this month
Where: Zabrze, Poland
What: About 20 tombstones were damaged at a Jewish cemetery in Zabrze, Poland. Dariusz Walerjanski, who has maintained this cemetery for 30 years, wrote on Facebook, “[a]fter many years of peace and tolerance, and understanding for the place where the dead rest, an act of vandalism was committed. It’s a rude act of stupidity. I can’t find an answer for why someone planned and did it.” This was the third case of vandalism at a Polish Jewish cemetery this month. Click here to read more.
Holocaust monument vandalized
When: 12 September
Where: Târgu Mureş, Romania
What: Unidentified individuals shattered the marble panels of a monument honoring approximately 7,500 Jews murdered during the Holocaust. The incident was condemned by the head of the Mureş County Museum, Zoltán Soós, who called on the police to “do their utmost to find the perpetrators as soon as possible and bring them to justice.” Click here to read more.
Spanish Jewish community calls on university to cancel pro-BDS course
Where: Public University of Navarra (UPNA)
What: The course, entitled “Apartheid in Palestine and the Criminalization of Solidarity” was set to feature several speakers with a history of spreading antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric, including Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the BDS Movement, Professor Lidón Soriano Segarra, who has justified terrorism against Israel, and Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk, who has accused Israel of war crimes and ethnic cleansing. Barghouti was scheduled to speak on 16 September on the “criminalization of solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
In a letter to Public University of Navarra President Ramón Gonzalo García, Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain (FCJE) wrote, “We believe that students who attend courses at prestigious Spanish universities deserve impartial and qualitative education. This course will encourage hatred against Jews and Israel and therefore we request that it be cancelled…. analyzing the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the current context from different perspectives will be completely unattainable.” Click here to read more.
A monument honoring Cartagena people deported to the concentration camps was defaced with a swastika and the German phrase “Juden raus” ('Jews out'). Click here to read more.
Sign honoring 150 Holocaust survivors stolen
Where: Karlstad, Sweden
What: A memorial plaque dedicated to the memory of 150 Jewish women who were brought to the city in 1945 from a concentration camp in Karlstad was stolen. Reacting to the incident, cultural coordinator at Karlstad Municipality Birgitta Collvin said “I have never seen a sign disappear in this way.” To read more click here.
Jewish man attacked in Uman
When: 1 September
Where: Uman, Ukraine
What: An Israeli Hasidic Jewish man visiting the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov was assaulted by local residents. “At night I went with a friend to the store,” the Israeli man told Channel 12 news. “A group of six guys began teasing us, bothering us and stealing our purchases, until it deteriorated to blows. They bothered us because we’re Jews. This was a classic antisemitic incident.” Click here to read more.
In another incident, swastikas were painted on two monuments honoring Holocaust victims. One of the monuments also featured a letter addressed to Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky, former politician Yevhen Chervonenko and Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, three prominent Ukraine Jews. “Come to your senses, please stop, because the sale of Ukrainian land will quickly lead you to the Holocaust,” the note said.
Jewish educational center vandalized
Where: Moscow, Russia
What: A man screaming antisemitic epithets vandalized the headquarters of SHAMIR center, a Jewish educational institute in eastern Moscow that serves a community of 20,000 Jews. After failing to enter the building, the man broke a nameplate, toppled a large decorative menorah, and damaged the rabbi’s car before being arrested. Click here to read more.
Far-right group recruiting with camping trips
When: 5 September
Where: UK Countryside
What: The Patriotic Alternative, a far-right group, held a camping trip with team building activities. The trip was organized by Mark Collett, who once described the Holocaust as the “alleged extermination of six million Jews.” Click here to read more
There were several incidents of antisemitic graffiti. Two teenagers were arrested for daubing several swastikas on park benches, garages and vehicles in Borehamwood. Similar incidents occurred in Crag Lane, Alwoodley, where a swastika was painted on a tree, in Lancashire where on Rosh Hashanah, a swastika was found scrawled on a wall, as well as in Bristol where a car was daubed with a swastika on Yom Kippur.
A group of Jewish people on a train were harassed by two men. According to media reports, among other insults, the two men told the group of Jews to “go back to where they came from.”
A former student at an elite grammar school admitted downloading and distributing bomb-making manuals. Detectives also found a memory stick in his bedroom with content linked to a neo-Nazi group.
Where: California, United States
What: Several students in a school in California discovered swastikas on their lockers, books, and cars. In another high school, a rabbi’s Zoom class was interrupted by a “Zoomboming.” An Instagram account with a caricature of a Jewish man with a hooked-nose is also following student’s personal Instagram account. When confronted by one student the poster responded telling the Jewish student you stole my money' and 'your existence offends me.' Click here to read more.
There were also several incidents of antisemitic graffiti recorded in September. In New York, a building on the New York University campus was vandalized with antisemitic and anti-black remarks along with a swastika. Racist and antisemitic graffiti were also found near the Chappequa train station, and a law firm in the Bronx was vandalized with the words “white power” and a swastika. In San Diego, residents spotted a remote control plane painted with a Nazi swastika. A police investigation in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is underway after a bridge was defaced with swastikas. At Preston Beach Park in Swampscott and Marblehead, Massachusetts, antisemitic graffiti was found spray painted on the walkway. Police from both towns are investigating the incident.
Throughout the US, there have been several incidents of antisemitic “Zoomboming.” While a rabbi in Cleveland was teaching a class, a Zoombomber took control of the rabbi’s screen and shared antisemitic comments. While conducting a pre-Rosh Hashana video call, a synagogue in Alabama’s Zoom call was disrupted by seven hackers, who shared antisemitic comments and referenced the Holocaust.
A man carrying a knife attempted to enter a bus used by a Jewish preschool in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Crown Heights in Brooklyn. After failing to enter the bus, the perpetrator fled the scene. The New York Police Department is investigating the situation.