Despite Lockdown, No Let-Up in Violent Antisemitic Assaults on French Jews During 2020: Report
The number of violent antisemitic assaults on Jews in France remained consistent during 2020 despite the restrictions on movement imposed COVID-19 lockdowns, a new report from the Jewish community’s security service disclosed on Wednesday.
“In 2020, it should be noted that the number of violent attacks recorded — 44 — remained almost identical to the year 2019 — 45 — despite the three and a half months of confinement and the decrease in community activities,” the SPCJ security service stated in a press release.
However, the overall number of antisemitic acts recorded in 2020 was down by more than half, the SPCJ noted.
A total of 339 antisemitic incidents were recorded, compared with 687 in 2019 and 541 in 2018.
The SPCJ said that 2020 had been “marked by a new emboldening of antisemitic speech on the Internet,” pointing to the profusion of antisemitic conspiracy theories around the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This hateful and stigmatizing speech against Jews on the Internet is not only virtual,” the SPCJ said. “It reflects the reality of antisemitic discourse in the public space, as revealed by several opinion surveys.”
The group cited a recent study on the teaching of the Holocaust in French schools conducted by IFOP, France’s leading polling organization.
The study revealed that one in five school students had been exposed to arguments denying that the Nazis murdered six million Jews during World War II, while one in three said they had heard jokes about the Holocaust after class.
The SPCJ report emphasized that data gathered in 2020 should be understood in the context of increased levels of antisemitism in France over the past two decades. According to the SPCJ, France has averaged 600 antisemitic incidents annually since 2000.
“In 2020 we can say that a whole generation has grown up in a France where the hatred of Jews, by a part of the population, has been expressed daily for more than 20 years,” the report commented.
Among the more notable outrages during 2020 was a brutal assault on a 29-year-old Jewish man by two men in the elevator of his parents’ apartment building in Paris. The victim, who had come to collect his 7-month-old daughter, was punched and strangled by the assailants, who yelled antisemitic insults during the attack.