Antisemitism in Switzerland nearly tripled by Hamas-Israel conflict, study shows

Review by Jewish community group and antisemitism watchdog finds 155 ‘real world’ incidents in 2023, 114 of them since October 7, compared to 57 for all of 2022

Police officers stand guard at the Synagoge Agudas Achim in Zurich, on March 3, 2024, after an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed, late on March 2, 2024. (Arnd Wiegmann/AFP)
Police officers stand guard at the Synagoge Agudas Achim in Zurich, on March 3, 2024, after an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed, late on March 2, 2024. (Arnd Wiegmann/AFP)

ZURICH, Switzerland – The number of antisemitic incidents in Switzerland has leapt since the October 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel and the Israeli government’s subsequent response against the Islamist terror group in Gaza, according to a report published on Tuesday.

The study by the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) and the Foundation against Racism and Antisemitism (GRA) showed the number of “real world” incidents shot up to 155 in 2023 — most of these after October 7 — from 57 the previous year.

The “unprecedented increase” in cases included 10 physical assaults, compared to one in the previous year, the study said, along with verbal insults, graffiti, and antisemitic placards.

“As a result of the dreadful terror attacks by Hamas on October 7, 2023, antisemitism has also manifested itself in Switzerland in a way that we could not imagine,” SIG president Ralph Lewin and his GRA counterpart Zsolt Balkanyi-Guery wrote in a foreword to the annual report.

One of the most notorious recent cases occurred on March 2, when an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed and left with life-threatening injuries by a Swiss teenager, an Islamic State supporter of Tunisian origin.

The incident, described by SIG as the most serious antisemitic hate crime in Switzerland in two decades, caused widespread shock and concern and led to enhanced security for Jewish sites in Zurich, where the attack took place.

About 114 of the antisemitic incidents in Switzerland last year occurred after October 7, the report said, the date of a massive attack by the Palestinian terror group Hamas on Israel. The thousands of attackers who burst through the border from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel killed 1,200 people amid horrific atrocities and abducted 253 people who were taken as hostages to Gaza.

Israel responded with a military campaign to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza, destroy the terror group, and free the hostages, 130 of whom remain in captivity.

Antisemitic incidents also picked up online, with 975 registered cases in 2023, up from 853 the previous year. Nearly half of the 2023 incidents were logged after October 7, the study found.

There has been a similar spike in antisemitism in countries around the world in the wake of the Hamas attack, with much of it coming in the guise of pro-Palestinian activism.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says the IDF offensive has now killed more than 31,000 people. These figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed over 13,000 terror operatives in Gaza since the war started, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

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