Antisemitic Incidents Rose in Switzerland Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, New Reports Show
Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, antisemitic incidents rose during in 2020 in both the German and French-speaking parts of Switzerland, according to separate reports released this week.
In the German-speaking part, 47 incidents of antisemitic harassment were reported, involving vandalism of Jewish buildings and verbal insults directed at individual Jews, said the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (FSCI) and the Foundation against Racism and Antisemitism (GRA) in their annual report. The report emphasized that, as in other countries, documenting antisemitic incidents depends on the victims filing a report, meaning that the number of actual incidents is likely larger.
German speakers also encountered nearly 150 incidents of antisemitism online, involving antisemitic slogans and images, many of them relating to conspiracy theories about COVID-19. The report argued that the appropriation of Holocaust imagery by coronavirus skeptics — many of whom compare social distancing and public health protocols to the Nazi persecution of the Jews — had to be “vehemently fought against.”
In the French-speaking Switzerland, the number of “serious” antisemitic incidents in 2020 dipped to six from 14 the previous year, according to a separate report from the Community Coordination Against Antisemitism and Defamation (Cicad) organization. Overall, however, the number of antisemitic incidents rose from 114 in 2019 to 147 in 2020. The report noted a disturbing trend of harassing Jews with pork-based meat products, for example leaving packets of bacon outside synagogues and, in one case, inserting pork into a package of kosher chicken delivered to a Jewish family.
Switzerland’s Jewish community numbers 17,500 out of a total population of almost 9 million. “We note that in Switzerland, people can be attacked, discriminated against or face threats because they are Jewish,” the Cicad report commented.