An annual report by Israeli researchers says anti-Semitic incidents surged worldwide in 2014, with violent attacks on Jews ranging from armed assaults to vandalism against synagogues, schools and cemeteries.
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The report, released Wednesday at Tel Aviv University, recorded 766 incidents, mostly in Western Europe, compared to 554 in 2013 — a 38 percent increase.
The report by the university's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry says the increase was partly linked to last summer's bloody war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as well as a general climate of hatred and violence encouraged by the rise of the Islamic State group and its gruesome propaganda.
It says 2014 was the second most violent year for Jews in the past decade. It trailed only 2009, which also saw a spike in anti-Semitism following an Israeli war in Gaza.
The center documented 68 cases of assault with a weapon against people, Jewish institutions and property — double the number documented in 2013. There were also 114 attacks on synagogues, 57 against Jewish community centers and schools, 188 against cemeteries and memorial sites, and 171 attacks against private property.
France topped the list with 164 violent incidents last year, compared to 141 in 2013. Britain had 141 such attacks, up from 95 the previous year, while in Germany the figures were 76 last year compared to only 36 the year before.
Last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza is cited as one of the reasons for the increase in anti-Semitic incidents.
“Some of the demonstrations] turned violent; in most of them banners and posters carried abusive slogans, comparing Israel and its Jewish supporters to Nazis and blaming them and Israeli soldiers for every evil on earth. It is the present crisis of values that characterizes contemporary Western societies, coupled with profound ignorance, that drives confused youngsters to look for easily grasped black and white symbols.
"Struggling against a symbol of evil is a noble deed any liberal-minded person wishes to be engaged in, however it is questionable whether many of those who joined the anti-Israeli rallies actually know where Gaza is on the map, or what the history and the current situation of the Middle East are, who the Nazis were, or what happened during the Holocaust,” states the report.
The Kantor Center also points out the publication of numerous anti-Semitic cartoons, in the style of the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer, as an expression of “the return of classic anti-Semitism.”
To conclude their report, the Kantor Center also condemns the attacks in Israel against Christian and Muslim holy places as requiring “the same strict legislation and punishment that is demanded against perpetrators of anti-Semitic incidents.”