Antisemitism in Switzerland boosted by Hamas-Israel conflict, study shows

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 3:28 AM

ZURICH (Reuters) – The number of antisemitic incidents in Switzerland has leapt since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel and the Israeli government’s subsequent response against the Islamist group in Gaza, according to a report published on Tuesday.

The study by the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) and the Foundation against Racism and Antisemitism (GRA) showed the number of “real world” incidents shot up to 155 in 2023 – most of these after Oct. 7 – from 57 the previous year.

The “unprecedented increase” in cases included ten physical assaults, against one in the previous year, the study said, along with verbal insults, graffiti and antisemitic placards.

“As a result of the dreadful terror attacks by Hamas on October 7, 2023, antisemitism has also manifest itself in Switzerland in a way that we could not imagine,” SIG president Ralph Lewin and his GRA counterpart Zsolt Balkanyi-Guery wrote in a foreword to the annual report.

One of the most notorious recent cases occurred on March 2, when an orthodox Jewish man was stabbed and left with life-threatening injuries by a Swiss teenager, an Islamic State supporter of Tunisian origin.

The incident, described by SIG as the most serious antisemitic hate crime in Switzerland in two decades, caused widespread shock and concern, and led to enhanced security for Jewish sites in Zurich, where the attack took place.

About 114 of the antisemitic incidents in Switzerland last year occurred after Oct. 7, the report said, when fighters from Hamas, which administers Gaza, killed 1,200 people in Israel and abducted 253, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel’s retaliatory military campaign on the densely populated enclave has since killed more than 31,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza authorities.

Antisemitic incidents also picked up online, with 975 registered cases in 2023, up from 853 the previous year. Nearly half of the 2023 incidents were logged after Oct. 7, the study found.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Bernadette Baum)