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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.
Overview of incidents reported by civil society
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Official figures recorded 41 anti-Semitic crimes.
The Forum against Antisemitism and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported a physical assault carried out by a group against a man wearing a Star of David necklace, which caused severe injuries. The Forum against Antisemitism reported an additional 50 incidents of vandalism and one incident in which a Jewish community website was hacked.
ZARA reported a physical assault carried out by a group against two Jewish men, who were beaten and pepper-sprayed. The ADL reported a further physical assault in which two Jewish men were assaulted by a group.
Antisemitisme.be reported a physical assault causing serious injury; a physical assault carried out by a group against an Israeli football fan; two additional physical assaults targeting people visibly identifiable as Jewish; one robbery, which was a part of the harassment over several months of a Jewish student; and an incident in which five Stolpersteine, stones commemorating Holocaust victims, were covered in red paint.
The Kantor Center reported six cases of anti-Semitic violence.
The Kantor Center reported 32 incidents of physical violence.
B'nai Brith and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported one incident in which cars were spray-painted with swastikas and threatening messages, and had envelopes containing bullets placed on the windshields. B'nai Brith reported two physical assaults, including one in which a Jewish volunteer was attacked by a group and one that targeted a Hasidic man; one incident of threats involving a firearm; and two incidents of vandalism in which mezuzahs, Jewish symbols on private homes, were damaged.
Official figures recorded two anti-Semitic incidents of damage to property.
Official figures recorded one case of anti-Semitic threats.
The Federation of Jewish Communities reported two incidents of threats and three incidents of vandalism against a Holocaust memorial, a Jewish school and a memorial to Oskar Schindler, respectively.
In IUSTITIA reported three physical assaults, four threats, two incidents of damage to property and five incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti.
Official figures recorded 13 anti-Semitic hate crimes.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Human Rights First, the Jewish Community in Denmark (AKVAH), and the Kantor Center reported the murder of a Jewish security guard protecting a synagogue and one incident of vandalism in which a kosher restaurant was defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti. AKVAH also reported the attempted murder of two Jewish teenagers, two physical assaults on women, four threats and two incidents of vandalism, one of which involved graffiti.
Official figures recorded 715 anti-Semitic hate crimes, including 31 homicides, 66 physical assaults, 109 cases of damage to property, 250 incidents of vandalism and 259 cases of threats.
The European Centre for Democracy Development, the Jewish Community Protection Service (SPCJ), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Kantor Centre reported one incident in which four people were murdered and 25 held hostage in a kosher supermarket. The SPCJ and the ADL reported one physical assault, in which a man was stabbed.
The SPCJ also reported 66 physical assaults and 359 cases of vandalism, including 250 incidents of graffiti and 259 threats. LICRA reported 10 physical assaults, including one resulting in a miscarriage; one sexual assault; one attempted physical assault; eight threats; two incidents of burglary and four incidents of vandalism.
The ADL also reported an incident in which 14 people were poisoned after a synagogue’s lock was covered with poison; eight physical assaults, including two committed during a robbery; two threats; one case of vandalism; and one incident of damage to property targeting a Jewish library.
The European Centre for Democracy Development reported one physical assault perpetrated with a knife, one incident of the desecration of a grave and two incidents of vandalism. The ADL and Kantor Centre reported an incident of the desecration of graves.
Official figures recorded 192 anti-Semitic crimes.
The coalition of civil society groups Hate Crime Counselling Projects reported 43 anti-Semitic incidents, including physical assaults, harassment, threats and damage to property.
The ADL reported an additional incident of anti-Semitic graffiti. The Kantor Center reported 37 violent incidents, one incident of vandalism and the desecration of a grave.
The Amadeu Antonio Foundation reported 12 physical assaults, including four assaults committed by groups; three threats; four incidents of damage to property; 15 incidents of vandalism and the desecration of graves in a Jewish cemetery.
Amadeu Antonio and the Department for Research and Information on Antisemitism (RIAS) reported two additional physical assaults, two threats and six incidents of vandalism. RIAS further reported five physical assaults, one of which was carried out by a group; one robbery; five threats; one arson attack; 34 incidents of vandalism and one computer hacking.
The European Centre for Democracy Development and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported an assault on an Israeli man and one incident of graffiti targeting a Jewish cemetery and nearby cars, which was also reported by the Kantor Center.
The Greek Helsinki Monitor and the Racist Violence Reporting Network (RVRN) reported a physical assault and two incidents of vandalism targeting Jewish cemeteries. The Greek Helsinki Monitor, the RVRN, the Kantor Center and the European Centre for Democracy Development reported two additional incidents of vandalism in which Holocaust memorials were vandalized with graffiti, one of which was also reported by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The Kantor Center reported two additional incidents of graffiti.
The European Centre for Democracy Development, the Kantor Center, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Action and Protection Foundation reported one incident of the desecration of graves. The European Centre for Democracy Development, the Action and Protection Foundation and MAZSIHISZ reported two incidents of vandalism involving graffiti targeting a synagogue and a cemetery.
The European Centre for Democracy Development and MAZSIHISZ reported an additional anti-Semitic graffiti in a subway station. The European Centre for Democracy Development reported another incident involving anti-Semitic graffiti.
The Action and Protection Foundations reported a physical assault on a woman; two incidents of threats, one targeting a rabbi and his family and the other against two men speaking Hebrew; and two incidents of vandalism involving graffiti. The Kantor Center reported seven additional incidents involving violence.
MAZSIHISZ reported six further incidents in which property was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti, stickers or inscriptions.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported the attempted murder of a Jewish man who was stabbed multiple times and one incident of vandalism. Lunaria reported one threat and three incidents graffiti. The Kantor Centre reported four violent incidents targeting Jewish people.
The Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova and the OSCE Mission to Moldova reported an incident of vandalism, in which a swastika and other insulting inscriptions were drawn on the wall of a Jewish school.
Official figures recorded 428 anti-Semitic hate crimes. The figures include cases of hate speech and discrimination.
The Israel Information and Documentation Center reported one attempted murder; five physical assaults, including one that caused serious injuries and another that involved damage to property; four cases of damage to property; 23 incidents of vandalism, 16 of which involved graffiti; and one incident of the desecration of graves.
The Israel Information and Documentation Center and the European Center for Democracy Development reported one incident of vandalism that involved the use of anti-Semitic stickers.
The Ministry of the Interior recorded 50 hate crimes and hate incidents motivated by anti-Semitism.
The Never Again Association, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the European Centre for Democracy Development reported the desecration of a Jewish cemetery. The ADL and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported the desecration of a grave in a Jewish cemetery.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported a further incident of graffiti on a cemetery fence. FODZ reported two incidents of damage to property, one of which was also reported on by the Never Again Association. Amnesty International reported one incident in which a Jewish cultural centre was vandalized with graffiti. The Never Again Association reported one incident of threats; seven incidents of vandalism, five of which involved graffiti; and two cases of the desecration of graves.
The SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis reported the murder of two women, one arson attack, one physical assault and four incidents of vandalism. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported the vandalization of a Holocaust memorial.
Official figures recorded 9 anti-Semitic hate crimes.
The Observatory for Freedom of Religion and Conscience reported two incidents of vandalism.
Official figures recorded 149 anti-Semitic crimes, including eight assaults, 14 cases of vandalism/damage to property and 127 cases of threats.
The Kantor Center reported two physical assaults and one incident in which a Jewish family was threatened.
The Intercommunity Coordination against Anti-Semitism and Defamation (CICAD) reported threats against a Jewish school and one incident of vandalism targeting a synagogue. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Human Rights First reported a physical assault carried out by a group on a man leaving a synagogue.The Consultation Network for the Victims of Racism reported one physical assault against a man that caused serious injury.
Official figures recorded 18 anti-Semitic hate crimes.
The Diversity Initiative, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported 22 incidents of vandalism. The European Centre for Democracy Development reported three arson attacks.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the European Centre for Democracy Development and the Kantor Centre reported three incidents of vandalism against Holocaust memorials. The European Centre for Democracy Development and the Kantor Centre reported three additional incidents of vandalism against Holocaust memorials.
The EAJC reported one incident in which a pregnant woman was abducted and assaulted in territories that are not controlled by the government of Ukraine.
The Congress of National Communities of Ukraine (CNCU), the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (SMM) reported two arson attacks. The CNCU and the EAJC reported one physical assault, three arson attacks, an attempted arson attack, two incidents of the desecration of graves, 12 cases of damage to property and one theft. The EAJC and the SMM reported one incident of the desecration of graves.
Official figures recorded 786 anti-Semitic hate crimes in England and Wales.
The Community Security Trust (CST) and the Kantor Centre reported 85 physical assaults, four of which caused serious injuries; and 65 incidents of damage to property, including 24 incidents that targeted personal property, six incidents targeting synagogues, one against a cemetery and five that involved the hacking of websites. The CST also reported 85 incidents of vandalism and graffiti on non-Jewish property.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Human Rights first, the CST and the Kantor Centre reported one physical assault in which a group attacked a group of Jewish men, one of whom was hospitalized.
The ADL reported two physical assaults, including one in which a large group attacked a group of people congregated in a Synagogue, and one incident of vandalism. MEND and Tell MAMA reported one incident of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim graffiti.
Official figures recorded 695 anti-Semitic hate crimes.
The Ephesus Initiative and the Kantor Center reported a robbery. The Ephesus Initiative further reported six physical assaults targeting men visibly identifiable as Jewish; a robbery; two arson attacks one against a synagogue and another against several houses, two incidents of damage to property; the desecration of a grave; and 27 incidents of vandalism, most of which involved graffiti targeting synagogues or Jewish property.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported 56 incidents of physical assault, at least two of which were carried out by groups and two that involved the use of weapons; and 377 incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti, vandalism or damage to property.
The Kantor Center reported 80 incidents of anti-Semitic violence, threatening behaviour and vandalism.
The OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMiK) reported one incident, in which the entrance to the Jewish community building was damaged.
The Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism organized two training workshops aimed at teachers who want to offer in-depth knowledge of the Holocaust, and providing pedagogical methods to use when teaching students about the Holocaust. The workshops also addressed historical and contemporary forms of anti-Semitism and intolerance against Roma and Sinti people, including hate crimes. The workshops took place in Kalmar and Norrköping.
The Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism developed an educational programme that involved 400 students and approximately 80 teachers from 84 different schools in 28 different municipalities. The programme aims to increasing knowledge of "Nazi crimes," contemporary racist and anti-democratic ideas and their consequences, such as hate crimes.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a number of resolutions on hate crime issues, including Resolution 2069 on recognizing and preventing neo-racism, which recommends that hate crime legislation include the protected characteristics of race, colour, ethnicity, language, religion, disability, migrant status, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. PACE also recognized the issue of under-reporting by calling for more systematic reporting of hate crimes.
The report of the European Commission’s first annual colloquium on fundamental rights, "Tolerance and respect: preventing and combating anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe", recognized the need, in the context of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes, to ensure the implementation of hate crime laws, the protection of victims, and to improve the collection and recording of data on hate crimes.
In its report “Antisemitism: overview of data available in the European Union 2005-2015,” the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) presented the numbers of anti-Semitic hate crimes reported by states, civil society groups and Jewish communities in 2015.