As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, examples of those seeking a scapegoat for the virus continue to proliferate. As ADL and other groups have explored, there have been numerous cases of xenophobia in the US related to the virus, particularly attacks against Asian individuals and groups. Internationally, there have also been many attempts to link COVID-19 to Israel, Zionists and Jews, with some people baselessly claiming the virus is part of a conspiracy of profit and gain by Israel and the global Jewish community.
Those propagating such conspiracies include media outlets, religious figures and even some government officials, primarily extremists, from several countries, including France, Switzerland, Iran, Spain, Turkey, and Venezuela. Below is a small sample from those countries in alphabetical order:
Alain Mondino, head of a party list belonging to the far-right National Rally political party, posted a video on social media trying to link Jews to the spread of the coronavirus.
Press TV, a semi-official government station, broadcast a number of reports claiming "Zionists" were behind the Coronavirus. Quotes included: "Zionist elements developed a deadlier strain of coronavirus against Iran.”
During a protest against the closure of a religious shrine in the city of Qom because of the virus, a hardline cleric stated you shouldn't listen to the World Health Organization’s directives about the virus because “they are a bunch of infidels and Jews.”
Iranian-backed Spanish language HispanTV published a report claiming the virus “is the result of a Zionist plot...This virus serves Zionism's goals to decrease the number of people in the world and prevent it from increasing. Important investigations confirm this fact.”
In another segment on HispanTV, there was a discussion of various conspiracy theories about the virus as a Zionist global capital, that the Zionists and Wahabis are aligning themselves as elites that manage world capital, and the virus is a way for them to control world order. Quotes include: "The virus has an Israeli tilt. Why did they do it? For revenge and frustration. Jointly with the Wahabi Monarchy. The Wahabis and the Israelis have a serious existential problem. Maybe it wasn’t a state entity but maybe it was an entity that responds to the [State of Israel] to generate panic. It essentially resembles ISIS and the Twin Towers and responds to the creation of a terrorist panic.”
In an article published on the extremist Spanish website, kaosenlared.net, the far-left Basque political party, Herritar Batasuna, wrote: “Today, March 14, we emphatically declare that the coronavirus is an instrument of the Third World War that has unleashed Yankee Zionist imperialism. The Anglo-Saxon capitalist and Zionist elite that is the enemy of all Humanity has taken a further step in its criminal and genocidal offensive ... All the revolutionary workers in the Basque Country should know that the hegemonic imperialism that is the Anglo-Saxon-Zionist bloc, and its dominant state expression that is the United States of America, together with its satellites, the United Kingdom and the Zionist colony that has usurped Israel's historical name have launched a merciless global war against all Humanity, including the Working Classes of their respective countries. Because it is the class struggle that is at the heart of all these events. The priority, at the moment, is to defeat hegemonic Yankee-Zionist imperialism on all fronts.”
French far-right figure Henry de Lesquen spoke at a "Swiss Resistance" meeting in Aigle and said "There's worse than coronavirus -- judeovirus (Jewish virus)."
Ivo Sasek, a Swiss Holocaust denier, posted on his organization’s website, klagemauer.tv, an article falsely accusing Jewish American George Soros of spreading the virus, writing that "there is another laboratory in Wuhan that works with viruses: financed by American billionaire George Soros, WuXi PharmaTech Inc."
On ATV, a pro-government TV station, a Turkish "expert" mused that whoever spread the virus will find the cure, and Israel already has a vaccine.
Fatih Erbakan, the head of the Islamist Yeniden Refah Partisi political party, and son of a former Turkish Prime Minister, stated that while we “do not have any hard evidence…Zionism could be behind the Coronavirus."
Two articles are also of note on Aporrea.org, a self-proclaimed leftist website founded and run by volunteers to advance socialist progressive opinions, with a record of promoting antisemitic conspiracies:
Esmeralda García Ramírez wrote about the virus that “the US economic, financial, political, and media power structure, along with the Zionist state of Israel, uses biological weapons to divert attention from its economic and political conflicts." Her article also promoted ideas of American antisemite and conspiracy theorist Philip Giraldi.
Joaquin Roman Rondon Santiago wrote that "The success of the [cryptocurrency] platform would offer the world a financial and economic alternative capable of destroying international law and world trade dominated by the United States and Israel...seriously threatened by the biological warfare unleashed from Israel and the imminent financial crisis that is beginning to dethrone the dollar, making the establishment of a collaborative world market."
ADL is concerned that this type of anti-Israel and antisemitic scapegoating could enter the mainstream dialogue, and we will continue to monitor and expose those hateful voices.