Post-October 7 antisemitism in Denmark at highest level since WWII

All 121 recorded incidents of antisemitism were ‘Jew-hatred and not just criticism of Israel,’ says leader of 7,000-strong Danish Jewish community

A soldier of the Danish Army (Forsvaret) guards the Copenhagen Synagogue, Dec. 16, 2023. (Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix via AP, File)
A soldier of the Danish Army (Forsvaret) guards the Copenhagen Synagogue, Dec. 16, 2023. (Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix via AP, File)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – The number of antisemitic incidents registered in Denmark since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel that ignited the war in Gaza has reached levels not seen since World War II, the head of the Scandinavian country’s small Jewish community said Thursday.

“We have seen the biggest antisemitic wave in Denmark since 1943” when Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany, Henri Goldstein, head of the Danish Jewish community, told The Associated Press on Thursday. That was the year some 7,200 Danish Jews were evacuated to neutral Sweden to prevent their deportation to a Nazi concentration camp, leaving almost no Jews in Denmark.

The figures, compiled by the community’s security organization, were on a par with reports in other European countries. Goldstein said that “after October 7, we have seen antisemitism on steroids.” On October 7, Hamas terrorists killed 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians in their homes and at a music festival, and kidnapped 253.

The ensuing Israeli offensive on Hamas has seen over 29,000 people killed in the Gaza Strip, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. These numbers cannot be independently verified and do not differentiate between Hamas operatives and civilians. The IDF says it has killed more than 12,000 terrorists in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 in Israel on October 7.

“We have seen a violent escalation, not least fueled by the uncontrolled spread of hatred on social media,” he said, adding that in 2023, “all 121 incidents were Jew-hatred – and not ‘just criticism of Israel.’”

Of the 121 incidents, 20 were death threats “which we have not seen since the 1980s,” Goldstein said, referring to threats made then against two leading figures in the Jewish community – an editor-in-chief and the chief rabbi.

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe attends a ceremony in the Copenhagen Synagogue, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, for the victims of the Hamas assault on Israel. (Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

In lieu of the rising antisemitism, Jews in Denmark were advised not to wear Jewish symbols openly, Goldstein said.

Most of the cases involved hate messages, more than half of them online. The report only mentioned known cases of antisemitism but the community, which currently has about 7,000 people, said that “the vast majority of antisemitic incidents are never reported.”

In 2015, a Danish-Jewish man was killed in a shooting while working as a security guard outside a bat mitzvah party in Copenhagen.

Many European countries have registered a rise in reported antisemitic acts and comments since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

Denmark, which was occupied by Nazi Germany from April 1940 to May 1945, was one of the few European countries whose Jewish population was largely saved from the Holocaust. About 95 percent of Denmark’s Jewish population managed to escape by crossing the narrow waterway from northeastern Denmark to neutral Sweden in a risky rescue mission between September and October 1943.

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