Corona Crisis Sparks Dark Wave of Global Antisemitism

Jews worldwide face alarming wave of Antisemitism linked to Corona pandemic; vicious conspiracy theories and anti-Israel slander will likely provoke violence.

Jewish star
Wave of Antisemitism (Archive photo: Jordan Holiday/Pixabay)

The Coronavirus crisis sparked an aggressive eruption of Antisemitic feelings, says CST, a British organization dedicated to protecting the Jewish community. This toxic wave includes racists hacking online prayer services and meetings to abuse participants, according to a CST report released this week.

Especially shocking is a far right campaign to infect as many Jews as possible with the Coronavirus. Antisemitic activists refer to this effort as a “Holocough,” CTS says. The group is also seeing an explosion of conspiracy theories blaming Jews for the virus.

The wave of hate suggests more dangerous times ahead for the Jewish community, CTS says. The painful economic and psychological toll of the Corona crisis will likely encourage the scapegoating of Jews, the report says, warning that such hate has prompted deadly attacks in recent years.

In Germany, the country’s Antisemitism commissioner warned that far right extremists are using the global pandemic to promote their ideology. One conspiracy theory claims that the Coronavirus is a biological weapon unleashed by Israel’s Mossad, he said.

The Israeli government is also deeply concerned about the surge in Antisemitism. An internal Foreign Ministry report highlighted a sharp increase in anti-Jewish social media posts, most notably in the US, Germany and France but also in the Muslim world.

The report also found that Holocaust deniers are using the crisis to reinforce their theories. These efforts manipulate information about Corona victims in China to question the Jewish death toll in the Holocaust.   

Corona Used to Smear Israel

Meanwhile, hostile forces are using the Corona outbreak to advance their anti-Israel agenda. In Iran, officials charged that the virus is a bio-weapon from Israel and the US. In Argentina, a TV journalist claimed that rich Americans and Israelis created the virus. He has since apologized.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry report identified conspiracy theories that blame Israel for spreading the disease as part of a Zionist plot to kill non-Jews. Some cartoons posted online showed the Israeli flag with a virus instead of the Star of David.

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy is also monitoring the actions of BDS activists, who are blaming Israel for spreading the virus among the Palestinians. Palestinian Authority leaders are promoting these charges as well.

PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh recently accused IDF soldiers of trying to deliberately infect Palestinians with the disease. He also claimed that settlements are heavily infected by the virus and urged Palestinian laborers to avoid them.  

Widely disseminated anti-Israel slander is “no less dangerous than wars and physical terror,” says Dan Diker, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Such narratives are being promoted as far and wide as Turkey, South Africa and the US, he says.

Anti-Israel hostility and Antisemitic violence were on the rise even before the Corona pandemic. Now, the expected economic fallout and grim global mood will create fertile ground for further escalation of these disturbing trends.

Notably, Israeli officials previously started to develop plans to assist Jewish communities abroad. Given the current climate, Israel may need to invest even more resources and efforts to protect vulnerable Jews worldwide.