Online Anti-Semitism Skyrocketed in 2020 Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, New Tel Aviv University Report Finds

An example of an COVID-19 pandemic-related anti-Semitic cartoon published online in 2020.

April 11, 2021

While the number of worldwide incidents of violent attacks targeting Jews fell in 2020 amid COVID-19 pandemic-related social-distancing behavior, online anti-Semitism skyrocketed, according to a new annual anti-Semitism report put out this week by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress (EJC).

The report was based on thousands of testimonies collected from across the globe.

The study found that the number of physical assaults on Jews dropped to 371 in 2020 from 456 the previous year.

Yet, the number of anti-Semitic vandalism incidents at Jewish synagogues, graveyards, Holocaust memorials, and other sites rose from 130 to 159.

The surge of online Jew-hatred was more difficult to quantify, but in the US alone there were at least 200 cases of “Zoom-bombing” (the disruption of virtual events by anti-Semites), the report said.

Professor Dina Porat — head of the Kantor Center — stated, “The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting reality dictated both the nature and extent of antisemitism in 2020, which was an unusually tense and turbulent year all over the world. Prejudice, superstition, primordial emotions, and bizarre theories surfaced on the scene, and manifestations of antisemitism, both verbal and visual, were vicious and outrageous.”

“Blaming the Jews and Israelis for developing and spreading the coronavirus (or ‘Judeovirus’), was the main motif in this year’s antisemitic manifestations,” Porat — a Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM) Advisory Board member — added. “This notion is rooted in a deep fear of the Jew/Israeli as a spreader of disease in both the past and present.”

Watch remarks by Professor Porat on the report below:.

Dr. Moshe Kantor — president of the EJC — observed, “In a year of physical restrictions, it is obvious that physical attacks should decrease. However, with the increase of antisemitism online, the next wave of attacks against Jews and Jewish targets could be only around the corner.”

The full report can be read here.