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Photograph: Photo by Ze'ev Barkan, used under CC BY

There was a 46-per-cent decrease in anti-Semitic violence around the world in 2015 compared to 2014, a research centre said Wednesday, on the eve of Israel's annual Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center said it recorded 410 violent incidents in 2015, compared to 766 in 2014.

"This is the lowest number in the recent decade," said the centre, noting however that 2014 was an "especially difficult year" mainly because of the Gaza War. 

But the centre noted that there was a dramatic increase in non-violent acts, mainly anti-Semitic expressions on social media, which "turned more threatening and insulting."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an address before hundreds of people gathered for an evening memorial service at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust institute, warned that anti-Semitism remained pervasive.

Nazi ideology "pointed to the Jews as the source of all evil in the world," Netanyahu said, adding that modern anti-Semitism pointed to Israel as the source of all evil.

Lies about the Jews and willfully false propaganda about Israel "are being spread on social media - means Hittler and Goebbels wouldn't have dreamed of," he said.

Hostility against Israel, not just in the Arab world, but also in the West, including "among British lawmakers, senior officials in Sweden and public-opinion-shapers in France," had long ago departed from legitimate criticism, he charged.

He said that while "there are those who are willing to reconcile" with a future nuclear Iran, Israel was and would not. 

"There are those who'd like to ignore the intentions of Iran, which carves onto its rockets the words 'Israel will be destroyed' and holds a competition of cartoons to deny the Holocaust, these very days! Is there anything sicker than that?"

The study by Tel Aviv University warned of the dangers faced by Jewish communities in Europe, who today feel increasingly "threatened" by radicalized Muslim citizens and growing support for right-wing parties.

One reason for the decline in violence against Jewish people and property cited by the report were increased security measures following the 2015 Paris and Copenhagen attacks.  

In Germany, for one, violent acts dropped from 76 to 37. The acts included desecrations of cemeteries and a memorial and the beating up of a man at an underground station who said he was Jewish.

On Thursday, Israelis will observe two minutes of silence as morning sirens wail in remembrance of the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust.

Aside a state wreath-laying service at Yad Vashem, ceremonies at schools, colleges and universities are scheduled throughout the country during the day. In Poland, thousands of Jewish youths from around the world are set to participate in the annual March of the Living - a 3-kilometre march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the two sections of the largest Nazi extermination camp complex.

Although the United Nations has designated January 27 as international Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel traditionally marks it on the 27th day of the Jewish month of Nissan - one week before Independence Day to symbolize the rise of the state from the ashes of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Remembrance Day lasts from sunset Wednesday until sunset Thursday.

Israel celebrates its memorial day for fallen soldiers and its independence day next week.

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