Czech Jews report rise in online antisemitism amid COVID pandemic

PRAGUE — Antisemitic incidents in the Czech Republic continued their rise last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the bulk of the anti-Jewish hatred being expressed online, the country’s Jewish community says.

In its annual report, the Federation of the Jewish Communities says it registered 874 antisemitic incidents in 2020, 180 more than during the previous year.

The report, however, concludes the Czech Republic remains a safe country for Jews and that antisemitism is at a relatively low level compared with other European countries. It says there was one physical attack registered in 2020, another attack on Jewish property and six other incidents that involved antisemitic threats, harassment and verbal insults.

As the online space became even more prominent amid the coronavirus pandemic, a vast majority of the incidents — 98% — took place on the internet. Those included conspiracy theories spread by disinformation websites, individuals and antisemitic groups blaming Jews for the pandemic and claiming that vaccination serves their financial interests.

The community’s report warns that antisemitism on the internet cannot be underestimated.

“The analysis of violent antisemitic attacks and the profiles of their perpetrators confirms that a violent act is almost always preceded by the radicalization and expressions of hatred vented on the internet, especially on social media,” it says.

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