Human rights advocate and former Knesset member Natan Sharansky blasted recent antisemitic propaganda evident in Turkey, Iran, Jordan and elsewhere falsely accusing Jews of spreading coronavirus, saying it is ‘’just one more recent example of the delegitimization campaign emanating from the Middle East.’’
“The idea that Jews are behind the virus, that Jews want to destroy markets, to make money or that Israel is behind it – There is nothing new in it. We saw it during the Black Death in the Middle Ages. There was broad belief that Jews were behind it. The difference between then and now is that today the State of Israel is strong, we are fighting anti-Semitism and we will defeat it,’’ he said during a digital awards ceremony organized by the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM).
Sharansky and Special U.S. Envoy Elan Carr discussed anti-Semitic efforts to use coronavirus for spreading anti-Jewish hatred. Around 30,000 watched the online event, including those in quarantine around the world due to coronavirus, after the original event at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia was cancelled due to the sanitary crisis.
Sacha Roytman-Dratwa, The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement Director, commented: “The spread of coronavirus is also fertile ground for the spread of anti-Semitism. We have seen a number of anti-Semitic statements from officials in Iran, from both extremes of the political spectrum in Europe, United States and the Middle East. In light of the rise in anti-Semitism, we urge governments to take firm action against hatred against Jews and for Jewish communities to be aware.”
As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus surges globally, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) noted that extremists continue to use the virus to advance their bigotry and antisemitism, while also promoting conspiracy theories and even boogaloo (the white supremacist term for civil war).
Conspiracy theories claiming that a cabal of nefarious Jews are behind the current coronavirus epidemic have run rampant across the internet and other media platforms, the ADL said.
“The most popular conspiracy theory is that Jews are using this virus as a means for profit,” said Alex Friedfeld, a researcher with the ADL. “They are saying Jews manufactured it and are going to take advantage of the market’s collapse through insider trading.”
Extremists are relying primarily on fringe social media platforms to disseminate their views, but as the virus spreads, it has gotten easier to find xenophobia, antisemitism and conspiracy theories on mainstream social media platforms, the group said.
“They are saying Jews manufactured it and are going to take advantage of the market’s collapse through insider trading.”
Promulgating mostly from white supremacist groups and anti-semites from the Levant, the theories began surfacing in early January when the first outbreak started to make headlines outside Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the infectious disease.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a host of other social media platforms have been inundated with such ideas for months, where memes and statements have been posted regularly, The Times of Israel reported.
The conspiracy theories have also made their way on to television, with one person on Turkish-state television claiming “Jews, Zionists have organized and engineered the novel coronavirus as a biological weapon just like bird flu” to “design the world, seize countries and neuter the world’s population.”