A new report published on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel noted a 30 percent increase in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism worldwide in 2012.
The report, by Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, said the past year had seen "an alarming rise in the number of terrorist attacks and attempted attacks against Jewish targets, and an escalation in violent incidents against Jews worldwide."
The report presented an extensive review of various anti-Semitic trends, including anti-Semitic discourse in the public and political spheres and similar expressions on the Internet, especially in social media. Facebook and Twitter, the report said, have become a breeding ground for anti-Semitic and fascist groups promoting hatred against Jews.
The report said that 686 anti-Semitic incidents took place in 2012, compared with 526 incidents in 2011. Some 273 cases involved physical assaults against Jews, and 50 of those involved firearms. Some 190 synagogues, Jewish monuments and tombstones were vandalized in 2012, as were 200 buildings in Jewish communities worldwide.
According to the report, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, especially in France, Greece, Hungary and Ukraine, as well as in the U.S., Canada and Australia. "The majority of the attacks across Europe were perpetrated by groups affiliated with radical Islam and the extreme Right," the report said.
France experienced the highest rise in reported cases of anti-Semitism, going from 177 incidents in 2011 to 315 in 2012. An interim report published by the center in October found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in France since the beginning of 2012 was 45% higher than during the same period in 2011.
The report further warned against the rise of radical political parties in Greece and Ukraine: "Last year was marked by the strengthening of political parties with platforms that combine anti-Semitic propaganda with incitement against Jews as part of internal politics."
This rise in anti-Semitism in Europe was attributed to several factors, including the economic crisis, a rise in the radical Right's political power and a backlash against Israel's November Gaza offensive, Operation Pillar of Defense.
"This situation in some countries in Europe — mostly Greece and Hungary — has gotten so perilous that Jews are afraid to walk down the street," said Aryeh Zuckerman, a consultant with the Kantor Center. "The European Union is not doing enough to combat this phenomenon, and if nothing is done the situation will only deteriorate further."
Dr. Moshe Kantor, who heads the research center, said: "As a Jewish leader, I can say that the [Jewish communities] in Europe are in danger. People are afraid to go to synagogue, to go to Jewish school — this is a new phenomenon and it is joined by several other trends we haven't seen before, like the fact that neo-Nazi [parties] have not only become legal in Europe, they're already holding parliament seats in Hungary, Ukraine and Greece."
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Reported by Yael Branovsky and Israel Hayom Staff