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Online antisemitism rises in Czech Republic amid pandemic

Federation of the Jewish Communities report says 98% of anti-Jewish incidents recorded in 2020 took place online, concludes country still safe for Jews

Demonstrators gather during a protest against the government restriction measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Prague, Czech Republic, January 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Demonstrators gather during a protest against the government restriction measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Prague, Czech Republic, January 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

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 said Wednesday.

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

The report, however, concluded that the Czech Republic remains a safe country for Jews and that antisemitism is at a relatively low level compared with other European countries. It said 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 warned 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 said.

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