For the vast majority of Americans, the potential collapse of our public health systems and predictions of economic Armageddon have left us frightened and uncertain. But there are some who have found a silver lining in our coronavirus fears: the conspiracy theorists, the racists and the anti-Semites.
From the beginning of the crisis, the virus has been used to demonize China and Asian Americans of all national and ethnic backgrounds. There is also the myth that African Americans are somehow immune to COVID-19. And, of course, the anti-Semites are having a field day with their conspiracy theories. Theories with which they hope to provide the masses with a simple explanation for this historic tragedy: it’s the Jews’ fault.
Social media has been a fertile breeding ground for blaming Jews for the coronavirus. After the outbreak in New Rochelle, New York, was traced to a Jewish lawyer, Twitter was atwitter with claims that Jews were behind the coronavirus. Ditto for the college students harassed on campus as well as on social media after they attended the AIPAC’s annual conference in Washington, DC, where it was announced two participants had tested positive.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Israeli government, the FBI and numerous media sources have revealed that every type of anti-Semite is getting into this blame game. On the instant messaging service Telegram—a refuge for right-wing extremists—the white supremacist and former congressional candidate Paul Nehlan claimed “vindictive Jews” in Israel have unleashed this “bioweapon.” Neo-Nazis and other white supremacists blame Jews for spreading the coronavirus and have urged their followers to infect police and Jews through interpersonal contact and the spraying of bodily fluids.
An Algerian media outlet ran a headline stating that “A Zionist organization is behind the coronavirus and the Zionist entity claims to have found the vaccine.” In Turkey, a source close to President Erdogan claimed the virus “serves Zionist interests.” An English language media outlet in Iran proclaimed that “Zionist elements developed a deadlier strain of coronavirus against Iran.”
Of course, in 2020 no piece of alarming news can generate headlines without the demagogues claiming that 89-year-old George Soros is the source of the problem. He has been falsely charged with owning a company in Wuhan, China which developed and released COVID-19. A state-owned Russian news site has also speculated that a Soros-financed lab in Wuhan released the virus. The right-wing former sheriff and frequent Fox News guest, David Clarke, suggested on Twitter that COVID-19 was a mere “flu panic” being pushed by Soros to create hysteria. On Gab, a social media site which has been described as a haven for white nationalists and neo-Nazis, as well as on Telegram, both Soros and the Rothschilds are linked to the pandemic. In Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban is linking the demonization of refugees and the pandemic crisis in order to shut down parliament so he can rule by decree, a spokesman for the government-backed Civil Alliance Forum tied Soros, refugees and coronavirus into one package.
Close your eyes and you can almost imagine that you’re back in the 14th century, where Jews were decried as the source of the Black Death.
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So what solutions may be possible.
Some psychiatrists and other mental healthcare professionals discuss that in a newly released book titled Anti-Semitism and Psychiatry. As good as what we have been doing to counter Anti-Semitism has been, the annual rise and the recent reactions above necessitates some new strategies, does it not?