September 2021: Antisemitism in review - World Jewish Congress

September 2021: Antisemitism in review

September 2021: Antisemitism in review

Argentina

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Over 100 headstones smashed at Jewish cemetery in Argentina

When: 5 August

Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina

What: More than 100 headstones in the Tablada Cemetery in Argentina were smashed. Dozens of the desecrated headstones marked the graves of victims from the Hezbollah-orchestrated 1994 bombing at the  Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed.

AMIA condemned the vandalism, lamenting the “neglect and lack of control” by law enforcement around the cemetery.

This incident brings to mind a similar one perpetrated by unidentified individuals in 2009, in which more than 60 headstones were defaced. Click here to read more.

In a similar incident, three vandals were caught attempting to steal over 220 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery. “We expect the authorities to provide a definitive solution to the problem of insecurity and lack of protection;, we need the necessary measures to be taken urgently. It seems like this is a ‘free zone,'” AMIA President Ariel Eichbaum told JTA.

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Austria

Austria

Antisemitic incidents spike to 20-year high in Austria

When: 2020

Where: Austria

What: Antisemitic incidents in Austria rose by 118% in the first half of 2021, following the conflict between Israel and Gaza in May. Of the 562 reported incidents, 244 were perpetrated by right-wing ideologues, 100 by left-wing ideologues,  and a remaining 147 were categorized as undetermined.

“The staggering number of cases reveals the reality many members of our community are facing every day,” said Oskar Deutsch, president of the Jewish Communities of Austria, in response to the publication of the report.

“Austrian Jews rely on highly professional security measures by our community’s security staff, police and army. This unique cooperation serves as a best-practice example for Jewish communities all over Europe. However, there‘s still a lot of work to be done.

“The latest rise in antisemitic incidents was driven by two factors: anti-Israel agitation and conspiracy theories in the context of the current pandemic. All segments of society in Europe must understand that antisemitism is a threat to democracy as a whole and that everyone needs to fight it before antisemitic words turn into antisemitic action.” Click here to read more.

Canada

canada

Canadian students preform Nazi salute

When: September

Where: Ontario, Canada

What:  A group of students chanted "F**k Jews" and "Heil Hitler" while performing a Nazi salute.

Police Chief Scott Tod has said the video is being investigated and finds it "very disturbing."

“I want to offer our condolences to the Jewish community of North Bay for having to see this video and see this happening in our community,” he said.

“In all the time I’ve been chief of police, I never thought I would have to deal with [something like this] in our community. The North Bay Police will completely and thoroughly investigate to determine whether a crime related to hate, genocide, or the incitement of hatred has occurred.

“As the chief of police in North Bay, I’m disturbed at watching the video. I only watched it   half an hour ago. For that event to occur in the city of North Bay is shameful,” he said.

“We are investigating. We take hate and intolerance very seriously as a police service. Hate crimes require thorough investigation by all the policing resources we have.”

The mayor of North Bay tweeted: "Hate and racism has no home here. It is everyone's responsibility to speak up against racism & hate when it appears."

Nearly 300 hate crimes involving Jews were reported in Canada in 2019, more than any other religious group, according to Statistics Canada. Click here to read more.

A 43-year-old man was arrested on two counts of disturbing persons assembled for worship and two counts of mischief. The man disrupted prayer services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah . When he returned on the second day of Rosh Hashanah and disrupted services again he was promptly arrested by a nearby patrol officer.

A man dubbed the “Swastika Man” after being photographed with the Nazi symbol drawn on his chest was arrested after being charged with a third antisemitic assault in the space of two months.

One of the assault victims, Sarah Gillis, told Canadian news outlet Global News that he approached her while she sat waiting for a train, and asked her twice whether she was Jewish. When she didn’t respond, the man gave a Nazi salute and asked her if she knew what the gesture meant.

When Gillis responded telling him to ‘Have a nice day,'” the man proceeded to grab her and force her into a headlock saying, “You are a Jew.”

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Demonstrators carried signs that compared the Holocaust to COVID-19 restrictions and regulation.

France

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Perpetrator of violent assault arrested

When: 8 September

Where: Lyon, France

What: A man who led the assault of a Jewish man wearing a kippah was arrested by French police. The perpetrator, who was with at least four other assailants, called the man a “dirty Jew” and then punched and kicked the victim with his fellow assailants. Click here to read more.

Germany

Germany

German police officer accused of sending fan mail to the gunman who attacked a synagogue on Yom Kippur

When: September

Where: Germany

What:  A female police officer allegedly wrote fawning letters to the imprisoned gunman who attempted to attack a synagogue in Halle, Germany on Yom Kippur in 2019.  Stephan Balliet is currently serving a life sentence for the attack.

The unnamed officer has been suspended pending  further investigation according to the German news agency DPA.

WJC President Ronald Lauder visited the synagogue soon after the attack . He underscored that “action, not words” are needed in the global fight against antisemitism. The same remains critical today.

To mark the one-year anniversary of the 2019 Yom Kippur attack on Halle, to mourn the deaths of the victims, and to push for concrete action to fight antisemitism, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) brought together Jewish community and government leaders in Halle for a small, socially distanced event at the synagogue in Halle on the day after Yom Kippur in September 2020.

The event featured remarks from Dr. Felix Klein, German Federal Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight Against Antisemitism; Maram Stern, World Jewish Congress Executive Vice President; Max Privorozki, President of the Jewish Community of Halle; Dr. Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and WJC Vice President; and Raya Kalenova, Executive Vice President of the European Jewish Congress. Click here to read more.

A 60-year-old man was assaulted at a vigil supporting Israel and against antisemitism in the city of Hamburg.

According to a police investigation, the incident occurred when a small group approached and starting yelling slogans at the organizers of the gathering, including “F**k Israel; free Palestine.” When several of the participants in the vigil approached the offender and asked him to stop, he punched the 60-year-old victim in the face . The victim was taken to a hospital following the attack.

“Violence driven by hatred of Israel and Jews is a disgrace to our city. This heinous attack must be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” said Stefan Hensel, Hamburg’s commissioner on Jewish life and the fight against antisemitism. “The act shows once again that so-called Israel-related antisemitism is increasingly turning into real violence. The perpetrators must be caught as soon as possible and brought to justice.”

“I am grateful that Hamburg’s citizens openly stand up against antisemitism and for solidarity with Israel,” Hensel remarked.

A 16-year-old boy was detained for a possible planned attack on a synagogue on Yom Kippur.

German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht sharply condemned the attempted Hagen attack, saying, “It is intolerable that Jews are again exposed to such a horrible threat and that they cannot celebrate the start of their highest holiday, Yom Kippur, together.”

The professional German association football club Union Berlin apologized after fans hurled antisemitic insults at visiting supporters of Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa.

“This behavior is shameful and intolerable,” said Union president Dirk Zingler.

“We apologize to those affected… we will never tolerate discrimination in our ranks. It is important to remain vigilant and to work tirelessly against it.”

“The antisemitic incidents at yesterday’s match… show that hostility towards Jews is still widespread in football,” Felix Klein, Germany’s commissioner for Jewish Life and the Fight against Antisemitism, told the Funke media group.

“I am dismayed that instead of fairness and respect, hatred and violence emanated from German fans, especially at this historically charged venue,” added Klein.

Greece

Greece
Greece

Gravestones vandalized for second time 

When: 10 September

Where: Ioannina, Greece

What: For the second time in less than a month, a gravestone was found vandalized at the Jewish cemetery of Ioannina.

“The State as well as the local authorities need to take all necessary measures for the safety of the Jewish Community and its sacred sites all over Greece, and particularly in Ioannina, where the Jewish cemetery has been the target of hatred attacks repeatedly in the past. Let the dead rest in peace!” the WJC-affiliated Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece said in a statement. Click here to read more.

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Italy

Italy

Israeli assaulted by man who yelled "Jews are murderers”

When: Pisa, Italy

Where: 5 August

What: An Israeli man was assaulted by a souvenir merchant in the Italian city of Pisa, who screamed "I hate Israel; Jews are murderers." The incident occurred as the Israeli  walked through a local market and found a model of the tower he wanted to purchase. When the two spoke, and it was revealed that the customer was from Israel, the seller began to curse and insult him. When the Israeli decided he would not buy the tower and began to leave, the souvenir seller  assaulted him.

The victim, who suffered a broken eye socket and a broken nose, was taken by ambulance to the hospital. According to reports, his injuries will require surgery . Local police are investigating the incident. Click here to read more.

Iran

Iran

At Durban, Iranian Foreign Minister vows to eliminate Zionism at UN anti-racism conference

When: 22 September

Where:  United Nations

What: At the Durban IV Conference, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that Iran’s “willpower is dedicated to the total elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, including apartheid and Zionism." He added, "These are crimes that constitute horrible atrocities such as child killing and the creeping occupation through settlements, which extends to the proximity of Al-Aqsa mosque."

While the 2001 conference aimed to become “a landmark in the struggle to eradicate all forms of racism,” it degenerated into a hallmark of antisemitism and anti-Zionism, marking a lost opportunity to create a strong international mechanism against racism and all forms of hatred. Accredited groups at the conference distributed copies of the antisemitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion and cartoons of hook-nosed Jews. Thousands protested against Israel, calling it an apartheid state, with signs equating the Star of David to a swastika and others praising Hitler.

A total of 38 countries openly boycotted the 20th anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban on Wednesday, citing concerns of antisemitism and anti-Israel bias.

The countries boycotting Durban IV were: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, UK, US, and Uruguay. The European Union also did not participate or speak at the commemoration.

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder expressed his appreciation for the countries that did not participate in the conference, saying, “We commend the leadership of the thirty-eight countries who boycotted the Durban Conference and refused to participate in this virulently antisemitic event.

“In the words of the late Elie Wiesel ‘We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.’

“We will continue to support and stand together with the leaders of all countries who fight against racism and antisemitism.” Click here to read more.

Lithuania

When: 7 September

Where: Vilnius Piramontas, Lithuania

What: A swastika was painted on a plaque in the old Jewish cemetery in Vilnius Piramontas (Šnipiškės). The signpost called for respect for the place of eternal rest of the Jewish people. While employees of a nearby German law firm who noticed the swastika immediately erased it, the swastika was repainted days later. Click here to read more.

Mexico

Mexico

Hate message left at Jewish leader’s home

When: 20 September

Where: Merida, Mexico

What: Unidentified individuals smeared Nazi symbols and an antisemitic message calling for Jews to leave the Merida  on the door of the home of the president of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community in Merida, Alejandro Rabinovich Noé’s.

“The Jews who live in Yucatán are not foreigners. Most of us were born in Mexico; others may have been born in the United States, Canada, or Argentina. Most of us have ancestors who are the ones who migrated; and those ancestors are the ones who came from Europe, such as Germany, Spain, Russia, among other European countries,” Noé said.

Noé has previously received anonymous threats on his cell phone from several unknown numbers. He has filed a criminal complaint with the State Attorney General’s Office, alleging that in mid-April, May, and June he received several calls insulting him because of his “Jewish origin,” including one during which he was told “you and your piece of sh*t Jewish family, we don’t want you here, we want all the Jews pieces of sh*t, Zionists to get out of here.” Click here to read more.

Netherlands

Netherlands

Men dressed as Nazis make mock arrest of participant wearing yellow star at Dutch COVID protest

When: 11 September

Where: Urk, Netherlands

What: Several men dressed like Nazis pretended to arrest a man wearing a yellow star as part of a rally against Netherland’s COVID-19 measures.

While the incident was just the latest among the hundreds of rallies worldwide in which protesters have drawn what they regard as parallels between Holocaust and rules meant to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the protest was out of the ordinary  because of its theatrics and was particularly offensive given that it took place where the Nazis actually rounded up Jews at gunpoint. Click here to read more.

In a similar incident, protesters wore yellow stars as they demonstrated against a new vaccine passport system. One banner featured the yellow star with the slogan, “Have they died for nothing?”

Norway

Norway

When: 12 September

Where: Norway

What: Group of churches in Norway organized a photo exhibit from the West Bank with captions that say that Palestinians undergo “daily crucifixions.”

The exhibition is part of Church Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, an annual event that in the past has featured calls to boycott Israel.

“The ‘Church Week’ has been problematic with its one-sidedness and demonization of one party,” Ervin Kohn, the head of the Jewish Community in Oslo, wrote on Facebook Thursday. “This year’s event is sinking even lower,” he added. Click here to read more.

Poland

Poland

When: 12 September

Where: Warsaw, Poland

What: Antisemitic literature was sold outside a prominent Church in Warsaw where Polish and Vatican religious and political leaders met. Titles included “Scum and the Jews in Today’s Poland” among others that blamed Jewish communities for the coronavirus pandemic and promoted other conspiracy myths. Click here to read more.

United Kingdom

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London police arrest suspect in six assaults on Jews

When: September

Where: London, United Kingdom

What: Police in London arrested a man accused of six assaults on Jews in areas of the city with large Jewish communities.

The assaults began when the man struck Jews on the street in the northern neighborhood of Hackney. The victims reported minor injuries. In a separate incident, he attacked a child, while in another he caused a man in his sixties to trip and break a bone in his foot.

In the first half of 2021, a Community Security Trust report found the highest-ever number of antisemitic incidents in any six-month period since it began monitoring the issue in the 1980s, with 1,308 incidents compared to 875 in the corresponding period in the previous year. Click here to read more.

A professor at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom was fired over his past comments calling Israel “a violent, racist, foreign regime engaged in ethnic cleansing” and referring to Jewish students who protested against his comments  as Israel’s “pawns.”

Four men—all in their 20s—were charged for allegedly shouting antisemitic epithets and threatening violence while driving inside cars draped in Palestinian flags.

Vandals painted swastikas on the wall of a hospital, prompting a police investigation.

United States

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Attempted car ramming attack at LA synagogue Sukkot concert

When: 22 September

Where: Los Angeles, California

What:  A man yelling “F**k the Jews” reportedly attempted to ram into a crowd of people as they were attending a Sukkot holiday concert.

According to witnesses, the man “canvassed” the event and issued threats prior to the incident, saying, “I’m a real Muslim, I’ll show you what real terrorism looks like.” Click here to read more.

A New York City police officer arrested a man for vandalizing a Jewish camp in the town of Union Vale, New York.

The man who opened fire at the Poway Chabad Center, killing 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye and wounding Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, another congregant, and his 8-year-old niece before fleeing the scene in April 2019, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In similar news, an Ohio man who planned a deadly attack on a Toledo synagogue was sentenced to 20 years in prison.