The number of anti-Semitic incidents worldwide rose worryingly, according to a report on anti-Semitic trends prepared by Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein and presented at Sunday's cabinet meeting. The report indicates a rise in terror acts and attempted terror attacks against Jewish targets, particularly by those associated with extremist Islamist movements or the radical Right.
Edelstein's report coincided with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marked globally on Sunday.
The report mentions a rise in street attacks, both verbal and physical, against Jews throughout the world. The trend is most pronounced in Western Europe. However, anti-Semitic incidents are up throughout the world, in Eastern and Western Europe as well as in the U.S., Canada and Australia.
This is the fourth year that the report has been issued. It is based on data collected by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, headed by Professor Dina Porat. The 2012 report opened with an in-depth look at the attack on the Jewish Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, France, where a teacher and three children were gunned down last March.
The report also revealed that the Toulouse attack led to an increase in Islamist and extreme rightist anti-Semitic activity. Statistics published at the end of October reveal that the number of anti-Semitic incidents of all kinds in 2012 was 45 percent higher than the previous year.
In 2012, several particularly heinous acts of vandalism were seen at memorial sites, cemeteries and synagogues in Russia, Venezuela, Belgium, Austria and other countries. According to the report, "In Germany, a Jewish cemetery is desecrated almost every week." The report suggest that neo-Nazi groups are on the rise in Eastern Europe, with such groups having begun to acquire weapons in the Czech Republic. In Poland, militias have become active, the report indicates.
The report also warns of the rise in political power of right-wing and radical left-wing parties in Egypt and Ukraine. In South American countries such as Venezuela and Chile, Israel is a main subject of political propaganda, which makes use of classic anti-Semitic motifs like the claim that Jews have power in disproportion to their numbers, or that they have dual loyalty. Some individuals use Holocaust denial to garner support.
On manifestations of anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world, the report says there is no significant change from the previous year, and contrary to expectations, the responses to Israel's recent offensive in Gaza — Operation Pillar of Defense — were much milder than the responses to Operation Cast Lead in December 2008.
"This is most likely because the operation lasted only a few days, the number of victims on the Palestinian side was relatively low, and public opinion in the Arab world was focused on problems in Syria and Egypt," the report suggests.
Nevertheless, the report looks at the expressions of incitement by the ayatollahs in Iran and says, "It appears that the worse the sanctions aimed at isolating Iran, the greater the vigor with which it adopts anti-Semitic messages."
In the digital world, the report says, classic anti-Semitism continues to proliferate. This includes anti-Semitic websites, social networks and smartphone applications. Conspiracy theories, including the highly utilized Protocols of the Elders of Zion, continue to be popular on social networks and websites.
According to Edelstein, the report proves that there is no connection between Israeli policies and racist incidents.
As evidence, the report says: "During Operation Pillar of Defense and following it, there was no sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents. There is no doubt that as part of anti-Semitism there are anti-Zionist approaches and delegitimization of the State of Israel, but unfortunately, no policy of the State of Israel will diminish these manifestations of racist hatred against Jews."