PRAGUE (JTA) – The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the Czech Republic rose by more than 200 percent last year, according to an annual report on anti-Semitism.
Prague’s Jewish community released the report May 4.
In 2014, 46 such incidents were registered across the country, compared to 13 incidents the previous year. An escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, notably Israel’s military operation in Gaza last July and August, was seen as the main factor fueling the surge.
“It is clear that the Czech Republic’s Jewish community becomes a target of anti-Semitism in relation to the situation in the Middle East,” the chair of the Jewish community of Prague, Jan Munk, said in a statement. “Czech Jews are perceived by some groups as envoys of the State of Israel and are blamed for its political decisions.”
While the number of physical attacks against Jewish targets – persons or property – did not register any major change compared with previous years, the number of verbal attacks, hate mail and threats to Jewish people rose four times in comparison with 2013. The number of online anti-Semitic incidents increased by some 20 percent.
In most cases, the perpetrators were not identified; those who were identified often had no ties to extremist groups. That suggests, according to the report, that anti-Semitic sentiments are increasingly gaining ground among individuals with no links to extremism.
In a trend similar to Western Europe, the report noted a rise in anti-Zionist sentiments expressed in conspiracy theories such as those blaming the ongoing crisis in Ukraine on Jews and Israel. These were often shared by both far-right and far-left groups and reflected by some mainstream Czech news websites.