Covid pandemic fans flames of antisemitism in Switzerland

Jewish people in Switzerland are concerned about increasing antisemitism during the Covid-19 pandemic, says the Foundation against Racism and Antisemitism (GRA). It wants to combat this with education and dialogue.

When people are insecure, even ancient conspiracy theories return to the surface, Dina Wyler, the Zurich-based foundation’s managing director, said in an interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

Creating scapegoat helps people deal with a feeling of powerlessness, she said. “Unfortunately, Jewish people are often scapegoated.” This goes back to old, deeply rooted ideas that come to the fore in a crisis, Wyler said. “Antisemitism never went away. But it became less socially acceptable.” Now the boundaries of what one can say have shifted, she said.

Jewish people in Switzerland perceive antisemitism as a major problem, with most reports to the foundation involving damage to property and insulting statements, she said. “Physical violence such as that in Germany is very rare in Switzerland.”

Wyler is calling for dialogue, education and clear responses to anti-Semitism. “When people with yellow badges  appeared at anti-coronavirus rallies in Zurich, Basel and Lachen in recent weeks, the other demonstrators should have reacted. They should have made it clear that comparing state-orchestrated genocide to restaurant closures and people wearing masks is going too far,” she said.


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