Swastika, anti-semitism, cemetery
Archive: A man removing a spray-painted swastika from the gate of a Jewish cemetery in New Jersey. Photo by AP
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A report published on Wednesday by The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University showed a 27 percent drop in anti-Semitic incidents in 2011 compared with 2010.

In terms of violent incidents involving violence with and without weapons, vandalism and threats made against Jewish communities in Europe and the U.S., the study cited 466 such events in 2011 as opposed to 614 during the previous year.

One of the reasons for this change may lie in the decrease of anti-Semitism in the three countries who host the largest Jewish communities – Britain (numbers of anti-Semitic incidents down from 144 to 105), France (incidents down from 134 to 114) and Canada (incidents down from 99 to 68). 63 percent of anti-Semitic attacks take place in these three countries.

In other countries such as Australia, Belgium and Ukraine the number of incidents has not changed significantly, while in Belarus and Lithuania there has been as increase.
Despite the overall decrease in hate crimes, researchers say the statistical data collected over the past few years indicate that the level of violence is actually higher compared to recent years and that the attacks have become more brutal. Dina Porat, who heads the institution, said that the incidents include attacks on youth on the streets, threats on the telephone and general harassments that "create an atmosphere of violence."

According to the center's researchers, the reason for the drop in violent attacks against the Jewish community is related to relative calm between Israel and the Palestinians, as opposed to clashes such as Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and the Gaza Flotilla of 2012, which normally serve as a catalyst for violence. On the other hand, the reason for the high level of harassment and incitement seems to be radicalization among Muslim youth, mainly from immigrant families, in the wake of the Arab Spring; as well as escalation in hostility on the part of the extreme militant right-wing, which has increased in strength in the aftermath of the financial crisis and the challenges of multiculturalism. The researchers also cited the increase in the use of the internet, social networks and blogs, which can easily disseminate anti-Semitic messages as well as anti-Zionist and anti-Israel incitement.

It is difficult to distinguish between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment, says Dr. Roni Stauber, the head of Program for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism in the Kantor Center. From the materials we gathered, he said, it looks like the violence toward Jews stems from a conclusion that there is cooperation between Jews around the world. He added that people do not make the distinction between Zionist and non-Zionist Jews.

A new program consolidated by the European Jewish Congress was presented on Tuesday by Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress. The program will be presented soon to European Union leaders, and will include accelerated and firm legislation to deal with anti-Semitic crimes, as well as the implementation and enforcement of security measures to protect Europe’s Jewish communities."