Terrorist attack inspired by antisemitic propaganda

There is no doubt that the terrorist attack in front of the Embassy of the State of Israel in Belgrade, in which a Wahhabi terrorist shot a member of the Gendarmerie of the Republic of Serbia in the neck with a shot from a crossbow, is a consequence of antisemitic propaganda that is getting stronger during the war in the Middle East. The Institute for Politics and Economy of Southeast Europe strongly condemns this senseless act and supports the suppression of extreme ideologies.

The attacker was characterized by the Serbian authorities as a member of the ideology of radical Islam, who is part of a wider terrorist group. At the moment, while the investigation is still ongoing, we can only assume, within the analytical framework, that the attack was the result of violent extremism whose target was the Israeli embassy. Jewish communities across Europe are raising their security levels, and communities such as those in France have armed security that implements technical physical barrier measures when children arrive at schools and Jewish community facilities.

And what are the causes? 


As a form of radical interpretation of reality, antisemitism  presents a growing security threat on the European continent. The rise of antisemitism as a security threat is facilitated by the proliferation of disinformation, conspiracy theories and fake news that serve as the basis for far-right and far-left ideologies. The weight of objective reality is often simplistically interpreted through the existence of “conspiracies”. Objective circumstances such as the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip further favor the spread of hatred against Jews. Organizing verbal attacks on Jews living throughout Europe is a classic example of modern antisemitism according to the definition of the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance). Blaming Jews for the actions of the State of Israel is an activity that goes beyond the legal right to protest and express disagreement with Israel’s policies.

The civil war in Syria was also the reason for the spread of antisemitic content among the migrant population in Europe and against Jews. Cartoons of a shark with a David’s badge on its fin and circling a boat with Arab migrants have been circulating on the Internet, which is just one of a series of examples of blaming Jews for the migrant crisis and tragedy without evidence.

The unhindered spread of antisemitic content on the Internet, as well as Hamas’s war propaganda, contribute to the rise of antisemitic sentiments.


Radical contents that lead to violent extremism spread through two main tracks. The first track is propaganda content marketed by ISIS and other terrorist organizations whose activities are based on the misuse of Islam. The second track is the spread of neo-Nazi content, often shrouded in the idea of ​​”sovereignism” and “anti-globalism” while essentially dealing with old settings in new times.

Since 2011, Russian war propaganda has played a significant role in fueling antisemitic ideas. On several occasions, the Russian leadership addressed its attacks on President Zelensky with an anti-Semitic background. In a large number of cases, such content does not belong to the classic framework of antisemitism, but to modern antisemitism, which is defined in the IHRA definition. Antisemitism is an integral part of the ideology of ISIS, which stands out with the slogan that it fights against “Jews and Crusaders”. 


Every terrorist act consists of two basic components – motivation and operational capability. Motivation in the form of radical ideology has a devastating effect on people who are vulnerable to this kind of content. Over time, radicalized individuals move to the stage of violent extremism, i.e. the stage when they have a firm determination to move from words to actions. Violent extremism is not driven by “criminal calculation” but only by opportunity.

In practice, this means that violent extremism as terrorism in its last phase – a terrorist attack – does not take into account the possibility of a fatal outcome for the attacker, but the availability of the target. Therefore, terrorists are the only criminals in the world who brag about their misdeeds and the possibility of losing their lives is not a deterrent for them, but their primary goal is to carry out an attack. The absence of “criminal calculation” favors precisely the process of radicalization. It is not necessary for an individual to belong to a terrorist organization in order to become radicalized, but one can also become self-radicalized via the Internet. It is precisely the unhindered spread of antisemitic content on the Internet as well as Hamas’s war propaganda that contribute to the rise of antisemitic sentiments.

In practice, violent extremism as terrorism in its last phase – a terrorist attack – does not take into account the possibility of a fatal outcome for the attacker, but the availability of the target.

Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, said that the COVID-19 pandemic, Russian aggression against Ukraine and the crisis in the Middle East have influenced the rise of antisemitism in Europe, which many civil society organizations have warned about. The nature of online antisemitism-based hate speech is on the rise exponentially and poses a challenge to reporting and recording such incidents, according to the 2022 Anti-Semitism Report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.


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