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A new report says incidents of anti-Semitism have increased sharply over the past year. (English)

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during the Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem. Source: AFP

A new report says incidents of anti-Semitism have increased sharply over the past year.(English)

The report attributes the increase to radical movements that fuel prejudice and hate, largely through social media.

This siren sounds on this day every year in Israel as the nation stops for two minutes for Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Israelis pause to remember the six million victims of the Holocaust who were murdered by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

At a memorial service for Yom HaShoah in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the audience that even that the most difficult wars today are not comparable.

My brothers and sisters, the Holocaust is an unprecedented event in human history. I take the trouble to say this because as the years go by, there is more and more discourse in the world that compares other difficult events to the Holocaust. But no. Even the most difficult wars today are not the Holocaust and are not comparable to the Holocaust."]]

Such references have been on the increase in recent years.

Doctor Dvir Abramovich, chairman of civil rights organisation the Anti-Defamation Commission, says it's been a noticeable trend in Australia. 

I think there's been a surge in Holocaust trivialisation, exploitation and abuse. It's become another weapon in diminishing the experience of the Jewish people."]]

A new report from Tel Aviv University has compiled a complete report of incidents of anti-Semitism from around the world.

It identified a sharp increase, including in Australia.

447 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in Australia in 2021, a 35 percent increase on the previous year.

Doctor Abramovich says he's not surprised by that increase.

Over the last I would say 5 to 6 years we've seen the types of anti-Semitism continue to rise higher as we find ourselves at the centre of the storm. There's been an explosion of anti-Semitism. And even as someone who fights anti-Semitism 24/7, the last few years have shocked me to the core."

The incidents in the report were compiled from the data held by a range of local Jewish organisations.

Matteo Vergani, a sociologist at Deakin University who researches anti-Semitism in Australia, says it makes sense that they have this information.

The main reason is that this type of data is data that people in the community report to other organisations. So the other organisations collecting data can be the police, the Human Rights Commission, or community organisations. Usually there is more trust between people in the community and community organisations. So they collect the vast majority of reports."

Doctor Abramovich says anti-Semitism can take various forms for the local Jewish population.

Harassment or victimisation of students at schools, at universities. We have religious leaders being threatened with violence, we have people in the street being yelled and abused, and of course, on social media."

The Worldwide Report says the increase in anti-Semitic incidents have been fuelled largely by radical left and right wing movements, often through social media posts.

Doctor Abramovich says social media has been hijacked and weaponised to produce anti-Semitic content, which is often amplified after events in Gaza.

Digital technology and social media and the internet has meant that neo-Nazis, white supremacists, hard core bigots, can spew their dangerous ideology behind the screen instantaneously, inexpensively, and anonymously."

Matteo Vergani says his latest survey identified a large proportion of people in Australia who were open to such views 

There are only a few people in Australia who have strong anti-Semitic views. But at the same time, there is a larger proportion of people who neither agree nor disagree with [inaudible], suggesting some latent anti-Semitism associated with negative stereotypes of Jews, like the idea that Jews have too much power."]]

For the Anti-Defamation Commission, the increase in anti-Semitic expression is troubling. 

I just want to say that this week we are commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day. And the Holocaust did not begin with the engineers who designed the crematorium at Auschwitz. It began with a society that saw the Jews as their enemy, as the devil in human form, as inhuman. So we have to make sure that the anti-Semitism which is exploding in our country does not become the norm."

That story by Deborah Groarke for SBS News

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