Antisemitic Incidents Rise by More Than 25 Percent in Czech Republic as Conspiracy Theories Fester Online
Antisemitic outrages in the Czech Republic rose by more than 25 percent in 2020, with the vast majority of incidents that targeted Jews for harassment occurring online amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to a report released on Wednesday by the Czech Federation of Jewish Communities (FZO) — which represents the Jewish community of 4,000 in the central European nation — there were 874 antisemitic incidents in 2020, compared with 694 the previous year.
There was one single instance of antisemitic violence in 2020, though the FZO pointed out alongside that “victims or witnesses of acts of antisemitism often do not report their negative experiences at all. It is therefore possible that the actual number of cases of antisemitic violence was higher in 2020.”
Similarly, there was only one act of vandalism of Jewish institutional property, and a further six incidents where people perceived as Jews were singled out for antisemitic abuse and insults in public spaces.
The remaining 98 percent of incidents involved “hate speech on the Internet — articles, posts on social networking sites, anonymous comments and discussion posts,” the FZO report said.
“Analysis of the content of antisemitic expressions again confirmed the trend towards the dominance of false, vulgar or stereotypical statements about Jews,” the report observed. “The number of incidents of this type have dramatically increased, with almost 200 more incidents recorded in 2020 than in the previous year, making up over 84 percent of the total number of recorded cases.”
Many postings actively promoted the antisemitic conspiracy theory that COVID-19 had been deliberately spread by powerful Jews, the report pointed out.
It also remarked that there had been a similarly “dramatic increase of almost double the number of incidents that relativize or deny the Holocaust.”
“The Czech Republic can still be seen as a country that is safe for the Jewish community, especially when compared to other countries in Central and Western Europe,” the FZO report concluded. “Nevertheless, antisemitism in the online environment should not be underestimated.”