FILE PHOTO: Participants attend the annual “March of the Living” to commemorate the Holocaust at the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, in Brzezinka near Oswiecim, Poland, May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

While the number of violent incidents towards Jews dropped last year in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns, anti-Semitic hatred circulated online, Israeli researchers reported Wednesday. 

Violent attacks against Jews dropped by nearly 19% in 2020, according to an annual report from Tel Aviv University. But online, the findings showed, conspiracy theorists blamed Jews for the pandemic’s medical and economic impacts, raising concerns of increased anti-Semitism as pandemic restrictions ease. The university released the report on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Jewish-majority Israel came to a near-standstill Thursday to honor the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

A special report released in June 2020 found that the new wave of anti-Semitism stemmed from false claims that Jews, Zionists or Israel were responsible for the pandemic or stood to gain from it. At the beginning of the pandemic, the Anti-Defamation League warned of a surge in anti-Semitism similar to rhetoric aimed at Orthodox Jews that emerged during a measles outbreak in 2019.

“Anti-Jewish hatred online never stays online,” said Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress. “We have to be prepared that anti-Semitic conspiracy theories could lead to physical attacks on Jews when lockdowns end.”

Anti-Semitic incidents were already on the rise before 2020, with more Jews targeted in incidents in 2019 than any year in the 40 years before. Deadly attacks in that year at a synagogue, a Jewish grocery store and a rabbi’s home characterized the anti-Semitic violence of 2019.

Jewish groups warned that recent political turmoil paired with the pandemic are helping far-right groups organize. A German government official told reporters in November that protestors against pandemic restrictions expressed anti-Semitic attitudes regardless of political background. A U.K. report found that although anti-Semitic incidents fell in the country in 2020, “The COVID-19 outbreak has not merely given rise to a new medium through which offenders express anti-Semitic sentiment; it has provided them with new strands of anti-Semitic discourse as well.”

Anti-Semitic and Neo-Nazi ideals are entrenched in far-right beliefs, and the rise of those ideals is mainstreaming anti-Semitism in U.S. politics, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Law enforcement in the U.S. is confronting a surge in right-wing extremism and an epidemic of anti-Semitic vandalism, including two recent incidents in Ohio and Florida.

Holocaust survivors, disturbed by the rise in online anti-Semitism and recent studies showing younger generations lack basic knowledge of the genocide, have taken to social media to educate people on the Nazis’ campaign to marginalize Jews, starting years before death camps were established. Survivors discussed their experiences with #ItStartedWithHate campaign, ensuring their stories would be heard as the number of survivors dwindles. Rapper Kosha Dillz hosted a recent discussion on Clubhouse featuring survivor Sami Steigmann to combat anti-Semitism and dispel lies about the Holocaust. The discussion attracted an audience of thousands, including descendants of both Holocaust survivors and Nazis.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Violence Against Jews Rose Last Year in US, Germany – Voice of America – 4/7/2021
The U.S., home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, has seen a steady rise in anti-Semitic violence in recent years. […] Dina Porat, head of the Kantor Center, said the overall decrease was due to reduced physical encounters during the pandemic. In Germany and the United States, however, stepped up activity by far-right groups such as the QAnon conspiracy movement led to a rise in anti-Semitic violence, she said.

Italian Holocaust survivor ‘senator for life’, gets antisemitic threats – The Jerusalem Post – 4/7/2021
A prominent lawmaker in her native Italy who barely survived Auschwitz as a teenager, she has maintained a sober attitude throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit Italy early and hard in February 2020. […] The subject of multiple death threats, Segre has been under police protection since 2019. In February, a renewed wave of hatred against her surged online after the government in Milan, where she lives alone, posted a video of Segre being vaccinated against COVID-19 and recommending that Italians follow her example.

Holocaust Education Must Teach the Danger of Hateful Words – Time – 4/8/2021
The Holocaust did not begin with concentration camps, ghettos or deportations. People didn’t wake up one day and decide to participate in mass murder. […] Hateful rhetoric built a case for Hitler’s Nazi regime to separate, isolate, dehumanize and ultimately exterminate an entire group solely for who they were. Plain and simple—it’s easy to kill those who are defined as less than human

On Holocaust Remembrance Day We Should Remember The Past For The Sake Of The Future – Forbes – 3/21/2021
Those survivors who are still alive are currently in their 80s and 90s, and even when they continue to tell their stories—or have had their stories documented by organizations such as the USC Shoah Foundation—fewer and fewer people are interested in hearing, let alone learning from, them. Contemporary genocides and current public health crises crowd out our attention, leaving little room for events of a bygone era. More dangerously, public eyes look forward to the future without realizing that history repeats itself if we don’t learn the lessons of the past.

As Racial Hatred Rises, Unity Is the Best Way Forward – Newsweek – 4/8/2021
We are an ambassador and an NBA player. A Jew and a Muslim. A grandson of Holocaust survivors and a person taught to despise Jews. We’ve had wildly different upbringings—in countries often at odds with one another. Despite this, we have reached the same conclusion: The way to defeat anti-Semitism and, by default, all racism, is to join forces in the fight against ignorance and hatred.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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