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2021 ‘most antisemitic year in last decade,’ with incidents spiking across globe, report finds

The aftermath of an antisemitic incident at the Jewish cemetery of Hoyo de Manzanares, Spain, May 23, 2021. (The municipality of Hoyo de Manzanares via JTA)
The aftermath of an antisemitic incident at the Jewish cemetery of Hoyo de Manzanares, Spain, May 23, 2021. (The municipality of Hoyo de Manzanares via JTA)

The World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency publish their Antisemitism Report of 2021 ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday.

The average number of antisemitic incidents reported in 2021 was more than ten per day, the report finds. “However, the actual number of incidents was significantly higher, since many are not reported by the victims out of fear, and due to the lack of surveillance and prosecution of local authorities and law enforcement agencies,” according to a joint statement from the WZO and Jewish Agency on the report.

2021 was “the most antisemitic year in the last decade,” the statement declared, though the year did not see a Jewish person murdered on antisemitic grounds.

2020 already featured a rise in antisemitic incidents, which mainly took place in the digital arena, as countries imposed COVID lockdowns. But as countries resumed in-person gatherings, such incidents took place there as well. Many demonstrations against COVID vaccines and restrictions included Holocaust motifs, such as the yellow star, as well as antisemitic conspiracy theories claiming Jews are spreading the pandemic to control the world, the report finds.

Europe was the leading continent in the number of antisemitic incidents during 2021, with close to 50% of all incidents globally taking place there.

The UK recorded a 49% increase in the first six months of 2021, with 1,308 incidents compared to 875 in the same period in 2020. Austria also recorded a doubling of the number of incidents, while in Germany the rate stayed roughly the same, with 1,850 antisemitic incidents recorded in the first 10 months of 2021 compared to 1909 cases reported in all of 2020, according to the report.

The next continent with the most antisemitic incidents was North America, with 30% of antisemitic incidents in the continent taking place in the US, the report finds.

Within the US, New York recorded a 100% increase in the number of antisemitic incidents in 2021, with 503, compared to 252 in 2020. In Los Angeles, there was a 59.2% increase in the number of antisemitic incidents in the first six months of 2021, compared to the same period in the previous year, LAPD data cited in the report showed.

The incidents mostly included vandalism and property destruction, graffiti, and desecration of monuments.

Physical and verbal violence accounted for less than a third of all antisemitic incidents.

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