Antisemites exploit COVID-19 to blur line between Jews, Zionism

The Jewish world in the age of coronavirus – A special Israel Hayom project

There is a fine line between antisemitism and legitimate anti-Israel criticism, but it appears that things are getting even more blurry because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the Anti-Defamation League, an organization dealing with this complex reality for many years, there is a growing fear that the global challenge of the novel coronavirus would make such hateful discourse mainstream.

"There are some things that even if they could not be classified as antisemitism are nonetheless in the gray area that creates fertile ground for anti-Semitic discourse," the director of the ADL's Israel office Carole Nuriel told Israel Hayom. "One of the most obvious manifestations is that people make sophisticated use of the terms Jewish, Israeli, Judaism and Israel and we also see people try to use anti-Zionism as if it was a legitimate form of hate, but in many cases, it centers on anti-Semitism because it negates Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people," she said, noting how classic anti-Semitism has been repackaged in order to make it relevant for today's age. In other words, just like the Jews were blamed for spreading the Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages, so too are Jews, and Israel, being blamed by anti-Semites for the virus.

Such conspiracy theories have been part and parcel of the coronavirus pandemic early on. In Turkey, an outlet associated with the anti-Israel regime interviewed an "expert" who claimed that Israel had a vaccine and that "those who spread it are the ones who will provide the cure," thus subliminally claiming the Jews were behind the new contagion. Even the son of the former Turkish prime minister said there was still no proof that "Zionism is not behind it."

Similar views could be heard in Venezuelan media.

Source: Israel Hayom