Number of anti-Semitic Incidents Worldwide Fell by Nearly 20% in 2013

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Protesters against racism in Paris, March 2012. Last year, Jews suffered 40 percent of violent racial assaults. Credit: Reuters

Last year 554 anti-Semitic incidents took place around the world, a drop from 686 the year before, according to a survey by Tel Aviv University and the European Jewish Congress. The numbers are being published Sunday, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In the survey, anti-Semitic incidents include those against Jews or Jewish sites like synagogues, community centers, schools, cemeteries and monuments, as well as damage to private property. The highest number of attacks – 116 – took place in France.

Ninety-five incidents were reported in Britain, compared with 84 the previous year. The number of attacks also rose in other countries, reaching 83 in Canada, 36 in Germany, 23 in Ukraine, 15 in Russia and 14 in Hungary.

The survey was conducted by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, tapping into the university’s anti-Semitism database. The researchers, headed by Prof. Dina Porat, chief historian at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and research center, found that “in many parts of Europe, Jews are still the most persecuted minority, especially in terms of their percentage of the population.”

For example, in France, where Jews make up 1 percent of the population, they suffered 40 percent of violent racial assaults last year. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, says Jews feel less wanted and live in fear in many parts of Europe.

Kantor says verbal expressions of hatred can lead to physical violence, especially by young people. He notes the shooting outside a Jewish center in Kansas City, Kansas, two weeks ago, saying there are many anti-Semites who just need the chance “to turn their words of hate into violent action.”

Kantor says there has been a debate at the European Jewish Congress on whether to play down spoken and written expressions of hatred, but that, considering the potential danger, the congress has decided not to ignore such threats.