13 Jews died in Pittsburgh, other fatal anti-Semitic attacks

2018 was deadliest year for anti-Semitic violence since 1994 – Israeli report

From Pittsburgh massacre to killings of French Holocaust survivor and US student, last year saw highest rates of lethal violence against Jews since AMIA bombing, report says

A makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in Pittsburgh, on October 29, 2018 in which eleven Jews were killed while at Shabbat services. (AP/Matt Rourke)
A makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in Pittsburgh, on October 29, 2018 in which eleven Jews were killed while at Shabbat services. (AP/Matt Rourke)

The Diaspora Affairs Ministry on Sunday released a report on global anti-Semitism, showing a worldwide increase in attacks against Jews and Jewish targets last year, and the highest number of fatalities in anti-Semitic attacks around the world in 25 years.

“The year 2018 saw record highs of anti-Semitism in the streets, online and in the political arena, around the world,” said Naftali Bennett, who serves as Diaspora affairs minister as well as education minister. “It is a year that saw the highest number of Jews murdered in anti-Semitic attacks since the 1990s.”

In 2018, 13 Jews died in three fatal anti-Semitic attacks, the highest number since the 1994 terror attack on the Argentinian Jewish community AMIA building in Buenos Aires left 85 dead. In the worst attack this year, 11 Jewish worshipers were gunned down in a Pittsburgh synagogue on October 27. The other incidents were the January 2018 killing of California student Blaze Bernstein, who was Jewish and gay, by a white supremacist, and the March murder of French Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll.

“The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs will continue to work to build bridges with Jews around the world, and to eradicate anti-Semitism through legal, diplomatic and public diplomacy channels,” Bennett said in a statement. “Especially this week, when the world marks International Holocaust Memorial Day, I call on governments around the world to act: rid your societies of anti-Semitism, and take a harsh stance against the hatred of Jews.”

A London bus stop defaced with an unauthorized poster reading, ‘Israel is a racist endeavor,’ which a pro-Palestinian group put up in protest at the UK Labour Party’s adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, on September 6, 2018. (Twitter)

The increased levels of anti-Semitism were evident both on the streets and online, the report said. Some 70 percent of the attacks were anti-Israel in nature, peaking around two key developments: The US embassy move to Jerusalem in May and the Hamas-led “March of Return” riots that begain at the end of March at the border fence with Gaza, according to the report.

The physical violence in 2018 was led by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, the ministry said. In Europe, reported anti-Semitic incidents rose by 69 percent in France and hit an all-time recorded high in the UK, where repeated incidents involving the opposition Labour Party have caused deep concerns in the Jewish community about its future in the country.

Mireille Knoll, 85, a Holocaust survivor who was found murdered in her Paris apartment (Courtesy)

On the positive side, the report touted the adoption by six more countries of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. The IHRA wording is looked at as an international standard for judging anti-Semitic expressions and acts. It has been ratified by Israel, Britain, Austria, Scotland, Romania, Germany, Bulgaria, Lithuania, the Republic of Macedonia, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Moldova.

The increase last year in physical attacks against Jews worldwide came after a previous dip, but experts noted at the time that the lower incidence of violence was accompanied by a dramatic increase in harassment, especially in schools and on social media.

Last December a major European report found nearly 90 percent of European Jews feel that anti-Semitism has increased in their home countries over the past five years, and almost 30% say they have been harassed at least once in the past year.

A similar report on antisemitism last year by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry showed that European Jews feel increasingly threatened by anti-Semitism and, in some places, are even relocating within or beyond the borders of their countries to escape it.

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