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Shooting latest indication of increasing anti-Semitism

Police officers secure a synagogue in Halle, Germany, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. One or more gunmen fired several shots on Wednesday in the German city of Halle. Police say a person has been arrested after a shooting that left two people dead. (Robert Michael/dpa via AP)

The shooting that left two dead and several injured in Halle, Germany, on Wednesday — when Jews celebrated Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for their faith — has shined a spotlight on the worldwide rise of anti-Semitic incidents.

The attack in Germany, where investigators are pursuing anti-Semitic motives after the assailant reportedly shot at the door of a synagogue in an attempt to gain entry, drew swift condemnation from United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and renewed calls from Jewish groups in the U.S. to step up co-operation in combating anti-Semitism.

“We have been saying for several years that anti-Semitism is real, it’s resurgent, it’s lethal and it’s multi-sourced,” American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris said in an interview.

Harris added that Wednesday’s Yom Kippur attack in Halle, coming on the heels of the one-year anniversary of an anti-Semitic shooting that killed 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, “should all be triggering alarm bells. The question is whether they are.”

A brief look at the state of global anti-Semitism:

UNITED STATES AND CANADA

The Anti-Defamation League, which called the Germany shooting “heartbreaking” in a Wednesday statement, reported earlier this year that violent anti-Semitic episodes in the United States doubled in 2018. Wednesday’s holy day of Yom Kippur also saw an anti-Semitic incident reported in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement condemning what he called “the desecration of a Holocaust memorial” in the city of White Plains on the eve of the holiday.

In Canada, the government reported a 4% dip in anti-Semitic attacks last year — but only after a sharp rise in 2017.

EUROPE

Anti-Semitism is a top concern in Germany, where data shows reported, anti-Semitic incidents rose 10% last year, according to Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center, and where the trial of a group of alleged neo-Nazis for planning an attack in Berlin began last week. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government earlier this year affirmed its commitment to protecting Jews who wear skullcaps from anti-Semitic threats.

But beyond Germany, several other nations are grappling with spiking reports of anti-Semitic sentiment as well as behaviour.

In the United Kingdom, the Community Security Trust charity recently reported a 10% rise in anti-Semitic incidents during the first six months of this year. In the Czech Republic, the Federation of the Jewish Communities reported a rise in anti-Semitic incidents last year.

The Associated Press