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Anti-Semitism

For centuries, Jews were persecuted as a religious minority. In the modern era, anti-Semitism has emerged as a political ideology that claims Jews control the world and are to be blamed for phenomena such as capitalism and communism. Anti-Semitism, including the belief that Jews are racially inferior, was the driving force behind the Holocaust. Anti-Semitic narratives, such as blood libel, continue to be heard today. Complex contemporary challenges like the financial crisis or the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians are reduced to placing blame on Jews, drawing on such anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories. Contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism also revolve around the Holocaust, with some blaming the Holocaust on Jews or suggesting that Jews focus on this tragedy to gain advantage. Denying the Holocaust is one way of expressing anti-Semitism.

Successive ODIHR annual reports have demonstrated that anti-Semitic hate incidents involve attacks against Jews both on religious and on ethnic grounds. Attempted arson, graffiti on synagogues, assaults on persons wearing religious garments, the desecration of graves and cases of murder have all been reported to ODIHR. Some NGOs have reported a spike in incidents in connection with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and Holocaust remembrance days and other Nazi-related anniversaries.

Anti-Semitism was first condemned by OSCE participating States in 1990. The OSCE's 2004 Berlin Conference on anti-Semitism identified anti-Semitism as a threat to stability and security in the OSCE region. In Berlin and at subsequent Ministerial Council meetings, governments committed to comprehensively address hate crime data-collection, legislation, law enforcement, prosecution, judiciary and co-operation with civil society.

In many participating States, the use of Nazi symbols and Holocaust-denial are specifically criminalized, leading to hate speech being included in their data on hate crimes. A further methodological challenge is that anti-Semitic hate crime is recorded differently in different jurisdictions. Due to the particular nature of the phenomenon, anti-Semitic cases can be recorded as anti-religious, anti-ethnic or – more broadly – racist and xenophobic hate crime. Several Jewish civil society organizations work directly with the police to monitor anti-Semitic incidents. This innovative practice allows intelligence to be shared and resources allocated to increase the protection of Jewish communities. However, under-reporting is also an issue in the region, with Jewish communities citing a lack of trust in the authorities as a common reason.

ODIHR | TANDIS



SELECT YEAR

Reports

Overview of incidents reported by civil society

Attacks Against People Attacks Against Property Total
Violent Attacks Threats
321 170 1392 1883

Austria

Official figures recorded 58 anti-Semitic crimes.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and ZARA reported an attack carried out by a group against a Jewish football team in which victims were physically assaulted and injured. ZARA reported a further incident of a threat against a man, visibly identifiable as Jewish, on a bicycle, and 34 incidents of graffiti, including one on the wall of a Jewish cemetery and two on a Holocaust memorial site in Mauthausen.

The Forum Against anti-Semitism reported nine physical assaults, six threats and 57 incidents of damage to property or graffiti.

Azerbaijan

The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) reported one incident of vandalism on a Jewish cemetery.

Belarus

The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) and the Kantor Center reported one arson attack on a Holocaust memorial and two separate incidents of graffiti on one synagogue.

Belgium

Antisemitisme.be reported the murder of four people during an attack on the Belgian Jewish museum, the attempted murder of a man, visibly identifiable as Jewish, two physical attacks on Jewish men, an arson attack on a synagogue, 11 threats, one incident of criminal harassment and seven incidents of graffiti. The Movement against Racism, Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia (MRAX) reported one incident of graffiti.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina reported an incident of anti-Semitic graffiti at the construction site of a synagogue.

Bulgaria

World Without Nazism reported one incident of graffiti.

Canada

B'nai Brith Canada reported six physical assaults, including two carried out by groups and causing serious injuries and one targeting children, one incident of threats against children, two arson attacks, including one against a synagogue, four incidents of damage to property, six incidents of graffiti, three incidents of vandalism of synagogues and one incident of the desecration of a Jewish cemetery.

Croatia

The Jewish Community Bet Israel of Croatia reported one case of the desecration of graves, one case in which an envelope of rat poison was sent to the organization, and a series of threats against the same organization.

World Without Nazism reported the desecration of a cemetery.

Czech Republic

Official figures recorded ten anti-Semitic crimes.

The Jewish Community of Prague reported one physical assault; 11 incidents of harassment, including a series of 25 threatening emails sent to the organization, and threatening behaviour against members of the Jewish community, often near synagogues; four incidents of the desecration of graves, and one incident of graffiti on a synagogue. In IUSTITIA reported one incident of anti-Semitic threats. World Without Nazism reported two incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti.

Denmark

The Jewish Community of Denmark reported two physical assaults, one incident of threats, one incident of damage to a Jewish school and three incidents of graffiti.

The Kantor Center and the Jewish Community of Denmark reported one further physical assault against a man and one incident of threats.

France

Official data recorded 851 anti-Semitic hate crimes, including 241 of violent nature, and 610 of threatening character.

The Jewish Community Protection Service (SPCJ) reported 107 cases of physical violence, of which at least nine were carried out by a group, and at least 15 caused serious injuries, and one incident in which bullets were fired, hitting a worshipper in a synagogue. Many incidents involved spitting, pushing and slapping, and many victims were wearing Jewish symbols.

The SPCJ and the Kantor Center reported one physical assault carried out by a group during which a woman was sexually assaulted, one incident of threats carried out by a group, and one arson attack. 

The SPCJ reported a further four arson attacks; 126 incidents of vandalism, many of which were connected with anti-Israel demonstrations during the conflict in Gaza; 289 incidents of graffiti, many of which involved swastikas being painted on synagogues; one bias-motivated robbery; one incident of the desecration of a grave; and 14 threats.

The Kantor Center reported one incident of graffiti.

World Without Nazism reported 13 physical assaults, including two carried out by groups and one in which an axe was used. Three arson attacks, 24 incidents of graffiti and four incidents of damage to property, including one in which explosives were thrown at a synagogue, were reported.

Germany

Official figures record 413 anti-Semitic crimes.

The Amadeu Antonio Foundation and the Kantor Center reported two physical assaults, including one causing serious injuries, one arson attack on a synagogue, six incidents of vandalism or damage to synagogues,  and three incidents targeting Jewish cemeteries.The Amadeu Antonio Foundation reported a further eight incidents of physical assault, including one committed by a group and one causing serious injuries and two incidents of robbery. The organization also reported 24 incidents of the desecration of memorial sites and plaques, including 11 incidents targeting Stolpersteine (small stones set in pavement commemorating individual victims of Nazism), four incidents of damage to property, and three incidents targeting Jewish cemeteries.

The Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism (RIAS) reported eight incidents of physical assault, three of which cause serious injury, four incidents of threats and one incident of robbery, and one attempted attack against an Israeli by a group. RIAS also reported eight incidents of damage or vandalism to Holocaust memorials or commemorative plaques, the desecration of a Jewish cemetery, and one incident of vandalism.The Kantor Center reported five incidents of physical assault. World Without Nazism reported five anti-Semitic physical assaults, 16 incidents of damage to property, 13 incidents of graffiti and three incidents of the desecration of graves.

The East German Hate Crime Counselling Projects 2014 reported 23 anti-Semitic incidents, including an unspecified number of attempted murders, physical assaults, harassment and threatening behaviour, damage to property and arson attacks.

Greece

The Racist Violence Recording Network reported two incidents, in which a Holocaust memorial was painted with anti-Semitic slogans, and one incident of graffiti on a cemetery that was later posted online by the perpetrators.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) and the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) reported one incident in which a Jewish cemetery was vandalized and one incident of graffiti on a Holocaust Memorial. KIS reported four additional incidents of graffiti, one of which targeted the same Holocaust memorial. The GHM reported one bombing threat against a local Jewish community centre and one incident of graffiti in a Jewish cemetery. 

The Kantor Center reported one incident in which a group attempted to damage a Jewish cemetery.

World Without Nazism reported three incidents of damage to property, two incidents of the desecration of graves and one incident of anti-Semitic graffiti.

Hungary

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Action and Protection Foundation and the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (MAZSIHISZ) reported one incident in which approximately 50 gravestones were broken or knocked down and an incident of damage to a Holocaust memorial on the Danube. The Action and Protection Foundation reported an attempt to run over a man visibly identifiable as Jewish; 17 incidents of graffiti, and a further 4 incidents of damage to property; one incident of threat in which a man was threatened with a knife after intervening to stop graffiti being painted on a memorial; and one incident of attempted arson. The Action and Protection Foundation and MAZSIHISZ reported one incident in which graves were covered with anti-Semitic graffiti and two incidents of threats.

MAZSIHISZ additionally reported two physical assaults on Jewish men, one of which caused serious injuries, and one incident in which participants in a peaceful walk through the Jewish quarter were threatened by another group. MAZSIHISZ also reported two incidents of damage to property, including to a Holocaust memorial, the vandalization and burglary of a synagogue, an attempted arson attack on a synagogue and 20 incidents of graffiti.

World Without Nazism reported four incidents of damage to property, three incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti and the desecration of one grave.

Ireland

Official figures recorded two anti-Semitic hate crimes.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland reported a physical assault on a man that caused serious injuries.

World Without Nazism reported one incident of anti-Semitic graffiti.

Italy

The Observatory for anti-Semitism and Lunaria reported a series of threatening incidents occurring in the days surrounding Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, in which pigs' heads were sent to six Jewish institutions and activists. Lunaria reported a physical assault on a Maghrebin man who was presumed to be Jewish. The Observatory for anti-Semitism reported five incidents of graffiti, including a series of Holocaust-denying graffiti in the days surrounding 27 January.

World Without Nazism reported one incident of threats, six incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti and one incident of damage to property.

Kyrgyzstan

The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) reported one incident of graffiti, in which a swastika was painted on the door of a Jewish cultural society.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The Macedonian Helsinki Committee reported a series of incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti throughout Skopje in connection with the annual commemoration of the deportation of Jews to Treblinka.

Moldova

The Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova reported an incident of graffiti in which a swastika was painted on a Holocaust memorial. The Kantor Center reported an arson attack against a Jewish cemetery.

Netherlands

Israel Information and Documentation Centre reported six physical assaults, including one in which a Rabbi was almost run over by a car and another in which a woman was violently grabbed; three threats; two incidents of damage to property; and 20 incidents of damage to Jewish property.

Poland

The Ministry of the Interior recorded 39 hate crimes and hate incidents motivated by anti-Semitism.

The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland reported two incidents of graffiti, including one on a synagogue; two incidents of damage to property, including one in which the windows of a synagogue were smashed and one in which a memorial was destroyed. The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland and the Never Again Association reported the desecration of a grave. The Never Again Association reported one physical assault, one arson attack on a synagogue, three incidents of threat and ten incidents of graffiti.

The Never Again Association, the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and the Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture reported an incident of graffiti in which the Star of David was painted on a monument to John Paul II. 

World Without Nazism reported a physical assault on a man perceived by the assailant to be Jewish, two incidents of damage to property, three incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti and the desecration of one grave.

Romania

World Without Nazism reported two cases of damage to property.

The Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism in Romania reported one arson attack, in which a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a former synagogue, and one incident of damage to property, in which stones thrown broke the windows of a synagogue.

Russian Federation

The SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis, the Kantor Center and the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) reported a physical assault against a Jewish man. SOVA and the EAJC reported one further incident of vandalism on a synagogue. SOVA reported four further incidents of the vandalization of Jewish sites. The EAJC reported seven additional incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti.

World Without Nazism reported five incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti.

Slovakia

World Without Nazism reported one incident of the desecration of Jewish graves.

Spain

Official figures recorded 24 anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Sweden

Official figures recorded 146 anti-Semitic crimes, including twelve assaults, 54 cases of vandalism/damage to property and 80 cases of threats.

The Kantor Center reported two physical assaults against a rabbi, both occurring on the same day, and one also targeting another man, four incidents of damage to property and one incident of graffiti on a school.

Switzerland

The Intercommunity Coordination against Anti-Semitism and Defamation (CICAD) reported a physical assault against a Jewish man, five incidents of threats, three incidents of damage to property and three incidents of graffiti.

The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities and the GRA Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism reported two physical assaults, one of which targeted a man, visibly identifiable as Jewish, six incidents of threats and five incidents of graffiti.

Turkey

The Kantor Center reported a physical assault against a Jewish couple.

Ukraine

Official figures recorded three anti-Semitic hate crimes.

The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) the Congress of National Communities of Ukraine (CNCU) and the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine reported three incidents of physical assaults carried out by groups, all of which targeted men, one of whom required medical treatment; one physical assault on a rabbi; one attempted physical assault carried out by a group against a couple; three arson attacks, two of which targeted synagogues; and three incidents of graffiti.

The EAJC and the CNCU reported two additional arson attacks, one targeting a synagogue and one against a Holocaust memorial, 10 incidents of vandalism, six of which involved anti-Semitic graffiti on Holocaust memorials, and three incidents of the desecration of graves.

The Jewish Confederation of Ukraine reported one additional incident, in which a Jewish man was threatened by an armed group, during which the victim's car was also damaged.

World Without Nazism reported a physical assault by a group on two men identified as Jews, three arson attacks and the bombing of a Sunday school. Seven incidents of damage to property, including one which caused injuries, three incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti and three incidents of the desecration of graves were also reported.

The EAJC, the CNCU and the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine further reported one incident of graffiti on a synagogue that took place in territories that are not controlled by the government of Ukraine. World Without Nazism further reported one incident of damage to property in territories that are not controlled by the government of Ukraine.

United Kingdom

The Community Security Trust (CST) and the Kantor Center reported 81 physical assaults, including one in which the victim was attacked with a baseball bat and glass, 38 assaults against visibly Jewish people, mainly men, four against worshippers in the vicinity of a synagogue, and four against school children.

The CST and the Kantor Center also reported 79 incidents of damage to Jewish property, including 39 incidents of damage to Jewish homes and nine incidents against synagogues, a further 65 incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti or stickers, 92 incidents of threats, 29 of which took place in public and 21 of which took place on social media or email, and four by standard mail. Many of the incidents reported by CST were in connection with the conflict in Gaza during the summer of 2014.

World Without Nazism reported two physical assaults, three incidents of damage to property, three incidents graffiti and two incidents of the desecration to graves.

United States of America

Official figures record 635 anti-Semitic offences.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Kantor reported 36 incidents of physical assault, at least two of which involved the use of firearms, and 363 incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti, vandalism or damage to property.


Developments

Finland

The Ministry of the Interior completed a two-year project to combat racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, including hate crime and hate speech. The project developed indicators for measuring inter-cultural and community relations, and tested good practices to prevent conflicts and build confidence. Partners from Sweden and Northern Ireland participated in the project. In addition to the framework of indicators, a conference was organized and three publications were drafted: "A Toolkit to Promote Good Relations", "A Report on the Prevention of Xenophobia and Social Risks" and anti-racist material prepared by Sweden. Reports are available in Finnish and Swedish.

France

A new "Action Plan Against Racism and Anti-Semitism" was presented by the Prime Minister and will be implemented between 2015 and 2017 by the Interministerial Delegation for Combatting Racism and Anti-Semitism (DILCRA). Among other measures, the Action Plan includes: conducting hate crime victimisation surveys to reveal the scale of unreported hate crime; increasing the visibility of criminal justice system action against hate crimes by publishing the lists of sentences disaggregated by type of recorded bias; making bias an aggravating factor for all types of offences; and providing specialized assistance to victims of hate crimes.

In his country visit report, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe expressed concern at rising racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and homophobic rhetoric and acts. He stressed that the existing, solid legal framework needs to be complemented by more preventive and awareness-raising measures.

Sweden

Two two-day seminars, one in Gothenburg and one in Malmö, were arranged by the Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism in co-operation with the cities of Gothenburg and Malmö, and with support from the Ministry of Employment. During the seminar, new research, including trends in, and consequences of, hate crimes targeting Jewish, Roma and African-Swedish minorities was presented. The seminar also covered hate on the Internet.

Civil rights defenders worked with the police to improve their capacity to combat hate crime within the project "Every Human's Right – Sweden’s Responsibility." Among the goals of the project was increasing law-enforcement officers' knowledge about hate crimes targeting vulnerable groups (primarily Muslims, Roma and people of African origins). The project also aimed at raising awareness of people in positions of authority within the police and government about the need to prioritize the fight against hate crimes, including financing the police and the justice system.

OSCE Region

The OSCE High-Level Commemorative Event and Civil Society Forum, held on the 10th Anniversary of the OSCE’s Berlin Conference on Anti-Semitism, stressed in its final report the importance for governments to collect data on anti-Semitic hate crime and co-operate with civil society to provide security for Jewish communities. Participants also called on participating States to monitor and prosecute anti-Semitic hate crimes in partnership with civil society, to publish available data and train police and law enforcement to identify such crimes.

In its Declaration on Enhancing Efforts to Combat Anti-Semitism, the OSCE Ministerial Council called upon participating States to increase efforts to implement existing OSCE commitments to monitor, investigate and prosecute hate crimes, and to collect relevant data. It encouraged ODIHR to facilitate co-operation between governments and civil society on issues related to anti-Semitic hate crime data collection.

In his "Report on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief," the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that extremism and radicalization, often leading to hate crimes and violence, need to be addressed. This can be done through police and security responses, community engagement, and data gathering and monitoring, among other actions.

The United Nations General Assembly (GA) adopted resolution 68/127 on combating violence and violent extremism, condemning all forms of violent extremism and underlining the importance of civil society in generating public awareness to the dangers of extreme violence. It recommends promoting community engagement in countering violent extremism.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted resolution 25/12 on freedom of religion or belief, condemning violence and acts of terrorism targeting people belonging to religious minorities and emphasizing that States should diligently prevent, investigate and punish such acts.

The United Nations General Assembly (GA) adopted resolution 68/170 on freedom of religion or belief, condemning violence based on religion or belief and reminding States of their obligation to diligently prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence against people belonging to religious minorities.

In resolution 68/169 on "Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief," the United Nations General Assembly (GA) expressed concern that the number of incidents of religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence continues to rise around the world. The resolution also called for interreligious, interfaith and intercultural dialogue at the local, national, regional and international levels.