Anti-Semitic incidents drop 12% worldwide despite UK surge


(JTA) — The number of anti-Semitic incidents worldwide has decreased by 12 percent in 2016 despite a spike in cases in the United Kingdom and the United States, Tel Aviv University’s watchdog on anti-Jewish racism said.

The data were published Sunday, Israel’s national day of remembrance of the Holocaust, in the annual “Antisemitism Worldwide” report by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University.

The report is a global overview combining surveys from recognized watchdogs from dozens of countries, including nearly all European Union member states. The decrease in the overall number of incidents mirrored a decline in the number of violent assaults, from 410 in 2015 to 361 the previous year, the report said.

Bucking the overall decrease in incidents from 2015 was the recording in 2016 of 1,309 incidents in the United Kingdom alone, constituting a 36 percent increase over the 2015 tally.

The Community Security Trust, the British-Jewish charity that compiles the report in Britain, said in February it could not attribute the increase to any single trigger, citing instead a “combination of events and factors,” including an unprecedented public debate about anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, terrorist attacks in Western countries and the June referendum in which a majority of voters supported a British exit from the European Union.

In the United States, “there was an alarming rise of 45 percent in anti-Semitic incidents on university campuses, where Jewish students are facing increasing hate and intolerance,” Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said in a statement about the report.

It was a reference to a study conducted by the anti-Semitism watchdog group AMCHA Initiative, which reviewed acts of anti-Semitism at 113 public and private colleges and universities with the largest Jewish undergraduate populations. Last year, 433 anti-Semitic incidents were reported, compared to 309 in 2015. However, the report’s findings and methodology were challenged by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, among other critics.

In Austria, where approximately 8,000 Jews live, the number of anti-Semitic incidents rose slightly in 2016 to 477 from 465 the previous year — when the figure had jumped by roughly 200, the country’s Forum Against Anti-Semitism said.

In France, authorities recorded a 58 percent drop last year in anti-Semitic incidents in a report that identified only far-right perpetrators and questioned the existence of a new anti-Semitism by Muslims over Israel’s actions. The report attributed the decrease to the deployment of troops around Jewish institutions. In 2001, the SPCJ security group of the Jewish community documented a 71 percent decrease to 219 cases. In 2004, SPCJ recorded 974 incidents.

In addition to the French government’s explanation for the decrease, there is “the fact that more Jews avoid appearing in public spaces with identifying attributes such as Yarmulke and a Star of David,” the Kantor Center said in a statement about its report.

In addition to incidents perpetrated by culprits associated with far-right causes, many cases feature radical left-wing characteristics, Kantor said.

“We are now witnessing that the targeting of Jews is no longer the sole domain of the far right. The far-left are now using the same messages, tactics and agenda,” he said.