Conspiracy theories, which are always grounded in malicious lies and overblown fantasies, are the bread and butter of antisemites. Usually, their half-baked, slimy suppositions rear their ugly heads during a crisis.
Jews were blamed for the Black Death, which decimated one-third of Europe’s population. And in the infamous blood libel canard, Jews were accused of murdering Christian children. No less a person than Syria’s former defence minister, Mustafa Tlass, lent it credibility. After Germany’s defeat in World War I, Jews were accused of treasonous behavior, an allegation that hastened Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power.
During the final years of Joseph Stalin’s reign, a group of Jewish doctors were charged with plotting to kill members of the Soviet ruling class. When Arab terrorists crashed hijacked commercial airliners into the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, the Mossad and Jews were held responsible.
And now, with the coronavirus pandemic killing thousands of people a day, antisemites claim that Jews diabolically created it to profit financially, a toxic message which can be found on popular platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Reddit.
Rick Wiles, a racist pastor from Florida who described the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump as a “Jew coup,” recently claimed in one of his nauseating TruNews broadcasts that the spread of the coronavirus in synagogues is retribution for Jewish opposition to Jesus.
“The people who are going in to the synagogue are coming out of the synagogue with the virus,” said Wiles, whose website specializes in antisemitic, Islamophobic and homophobic rants. “It’s spreading in Israel through the synagogues. God is spreading it in your synagogues! You are under judgment because you oppose his son, Jesus Christ. That is why you have a plague in your synagogues. Repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ, and the plague will stop.”
Not surprisingly, Wiles also claimed that the outbreak in the United States originated at a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C. last month. The truth is that the virus was first detected at a seniors facility in Washington state.
In keeping with its mandate to monitor the activities of antisemites, the Anti-Defamation League has been keeping track of attempts to scapegoat Jews for the coronavirus.
In Iran, Israel’s arch enemy, Press TV — a semi-official government station — blamed “Zionist elements” for the virus. And in the city of Qom, where it initially appeared in Iran, a hardline cleric urged his followers to ignore the directives of the World Health Organization because it is run by “a bunch of infidels and Jews.”
Fatih Erbakan, the son of a former Turkish prime minister and the leader of the Islamist Yeniden Rafah Party, speculated that “Zionism could be behind the coronavirus,” though he admitted he lacked “any hard evidence.”
Ivo Sasek, a Holocaust denier in Switzerland, posted an article on his website, klagemauer.tv, accusing the American Jewish financier and philanthropist George Soros of spreading the virus.
And in Spain, a far-left-wing Basque political party, Harritar Batasuna, published an article on its website claiming that the virus was launched by “hegemonic imperialism” spearheaded by “the Anglo-Saxon-Zionist bloc.”
In France, meantime, Alain Mondino, a far-right politician, posted a video linking Jews to the virus. Introduced with a sequence revealing the “Jew World Order,” the video advanced the theory that the coronavirus “was developed by the Jews.”
Taken together, these vile accusations can easily be dismissed as the unhinged rantings of know-nothings. But we should not be complacent. History has taught us that ignoramuses, naifs and ideologically-motivated haters, the riff-raff of society, will latch on to these filthy calumnies and try to milk them dry for their own nefarious ends.