Immediately after news broke on January 2, 2020, that a U.S. drone strike had killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani, anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist conspiracy theories began circulating online and in public statements in the region. These included the claim that Jews and/or Zionists control President Trump and the U.S. government, and are manipulating the United States to fight wars on Israel’s behalf. This is the typical behavior and rhetoric of anti-Semites, who view virtually every world event as justification for their bigoted views.
Criticism of Israel, or claiming that the Trump Administration is considering the interests of a close ally as it formulates its Iran strategy, is not inherently anti-Semitic. However, the steady drumbeat of anti-Israel rhetoric from Islamists, anti-Zionist activists and ideologues may contribute to an environment in which more overtly anti-Semitic beliefs take root.
Expressions of anti-Semitism in the wake of the Soleimani assassination have been most noticeable among white supremacists and other blatant anti-Semites. They have also been broadcast on the Iranian media outlet Press TV, and featured in public statements from officials inside Iran and by the Islamic terrorist organizations they support. The anti-Zionist left has also weighed in on the Soleimani killing.
Among the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the U.S. assassination of General Soleimani and U.S. policy towards Iran posited by white supremacists:
- Hunter Wallace claimed that the killing of General Soleimani marked the beginning of “World War Jew.” In another blog post Wallace warned his readers that “if you support and vote for Donald Trump in 2020, you are voting for a Jewish war with Iran” on behalf of “Sheldon Adelson and the other Jewish donors who fund the GOP.”
- Anti-Semitic and white supremacist ideologue Kevin MacDonald tweeted that President Trump’s Iran policy is guided by those who desire “a non-White US while once again Israel is getting the US to fight its war.”
- After the assassination, Mike Enoch urged his Twitter followers to “Just jump in to [sic] the fray with full on opposition to more ZOG wars and aggression. It's just the right thing to do.”
- David Duke blamed the killing on “Zio U.S. traitors,” and praised Soleimani, tweeting, “General Soleimani along with Christian Russia and the courageous Syrian people, KEPT 3 & 1/2 million Christians in Syria from being slaughtered by ISIS and al Qaeda!” He added, “The real evil is the Zionist Warmongers who are leading Trump & America into HELL!"
- Brandon Martinez wrote on a popular white supremacist site that “Trump was too stupid to launch this attack and was assuredly following the orders of maniac Jews” and that “a clique of Jews in Israel” want the U.S. to “make war with all of [Israel’s] towel-headed neighbors by proxy, using goyim foot-soldiers to do [Israel’s] dirty work.” In another post, he wrote, “Genocidal Jews want white people to believe that Iran poses a threat to us so that we fight another war for them…The Jewish race has always manipulated and conscripted others into fighting off their racial enemies. They did it in World War II, in Iraq in 2003, and have been lobbying ever since to get another bloodbath going in Iran.”
- Following Soleimani’s death, white supremacist Paul Nehlen wrote on Telegram, “The kikes who own Orange Man were gonna have their war with Iran one way or another.” He suggested that his readers “go fill up your gas tanks tonight. Gasoline will spike like a MF while you sleep. The kikes will have had advanced knowledge of this…watch all sorts of economic smash [sic] in the next 72 hours.”
- Jonas E. Alexis, writing on the anti-Semitic website Veterans Today, wrote that although President Trump knows that a war with Iran will cost the U.S. a great deal of money, he is nevertheless compelled to “obey the satanic powers in Israel” who want such a war. He warned that “International Zionism is still sucking the blood of virtually every nation on earth….the Israeli regime and their puppets in the United States represent Satanism. Trump is one of their preachers.” Alexis also claimed that Jewish influence has led the U.S. to become “the embodiment of evil because politicians have embraced an essentially Talmudic principle which basically says that perpetual wars and ethnic cleansing in the Middle East and elsewhere are good for America, despite evidence to the contrary.
- Conspiracy theorist and anti-Semite, Henry Makow, speculated on his eponymous website that President Trump’s policy on Iran marks the beginning of a third world war between the “Islamic world” and “political Zionists” in order to “cull the Goyim” and to bring about “Masonic Jewish banker world government.” Makow claimed this will fulfill an “Illuminati” plan to foment three World Wars in order to destroy Christianity and implement “the pure doctrine of Lucifer” across the entire world.* In a separate post, Makow claimed that the “rush to war with Iran” will allow the Chabad Jewish Hassidic sect to fulfill a “demented vision of world hegemony.” Makow has said he believes that President Trump is being manipulated by his Jewish daughter and son-in-law to “to bring about the prophesied cataclysm that will usher in [Jewish] Messianic rule.”
- Writing on Veterans Today, Holocaust denier and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, Ian Greenhalgh, drew comparisons between the U.S. assassination of General Soleimani and the murder of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand (whose killing in 1914 is generally considered to have precipitated WWI). Greenhalgh blames Jews for both killings:
[Prior to WWI] Jewish financiers employed Jewish criminals to murder [Franz Ferdinand] in order to gain revenge and ignite a war that would benefit them immensely while at the same time, devastating much of the world and killing tens of millions of troublesome goyim. Do you see the glaring similarities to the murder of General Soleimani? The general was taken out by criminals in the employ of the same handful of Jewish crime families that a century earlier had employed Serbian Jewish criminals to take out Franz Ferdinand. Once again, it is in the interests of the criminal enterprise known as Israel that this murder has been carried out.
- Anti-Semitic propagandist Brother Nathanael Kapner’s “RealJewNews” website presented Kapner’s interview with “ex green beret” Joe Cortina. Cortina said that a potential war with Iran will be “brought to you by IsraHell and its pawn in the White House, and by the infestation of treasonous Jewish agents throughout America, along with countless Gentile shills who make a living out of sending our boys into harm’s way.” Cortina continued, “Our Christian boys are fighting and dying for IsraHell, for Jewish Supremacy worldwide, for Jewry that doesn’t give a damn for anyone but their own. Even allies, once used, like Soleimani, they toss in the trash. Wake up Americans! Remove the shackles that Jewry has bound you with hand and foot!”
Iranian media outlet Press TV has featured several noteworthy conspiracy theorists and their anti-Semitic theories about the killing of General Soleimani and the conflict between the U.S. and Iran:
- Conspiracy theorist Gordon Duff, who runs the anti-Semitic website Veterans Today, told the Iranian media outlet Press TV that Ivanka Trump Kushner, whom he claims was “placed next to Trump as his Israeli handler,” instructed her father to kill Soleimani after she “received [orders] from Israel.”
- Anti-Semitic ideologue, E. Michael Jones, told Press TV that President Trump attacked Soleimani because “the Jews want Iran to attack America” in order to provoke an Iranian response, because they “want America to get into a war with Iran, for Israel.” He added that “the immediate cause” of the confrontation between the U.S. and Iran was President Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA “because of the money that came from three rich Jews, three rich American Jews – Sheldon Adelson, Paul Singer, Bernard Marcus…[who were] the three main contributors of the Republican Party and the three main contributors to Donald Trump’s election campaign.” In the same interview, Jones claimed that Jews were responsible for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 on behalf of Israel, adding, “it was Americans who died there, it wasn’t Israelis… probably no Jew died in [that] war.”
This is not the first time Press TV has promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about U.S. policy on Iran. In April 2019, Press TV aired an interview with anti-Semite Kevin Barrett, who claimed that “the Zionist lobby… created the pretexts for those wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan] and pushed the US into those wars,” adding that the Zionist lobby “likely is trying to push the US into a war with Iran." In May 2019, Barret told Press TV that Trump’s policy on Iran is guided by “[Jewish] Chabad Lubavitch people [and by] his son-in-law Jared Kushner [who] is from the Kosher Nostra crime family.” Barrett claimed that these Jews “would like nothing better than a big Middle East war which would give them their excuse to finish the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by murdering or expelling the remaining millions of Palestinians from historic Palestine. That’s the endgame of these fanatics.”
The Anti-Zionist Left
Anti-Zionist groups and leaders have been critical of the U.S. action against Soleimani, and frequently point out that the Netanyahu and Trump administrations are aligned on their anti-Iran agenda.
The repeated claim that Trump’s decision to attack was influenced by Israel and/or American Jews may be seen as an invocation of the anti-Semitic trope that Jews exert global control or pursuit of their own agenda. Similarly, demonizing Sheldon Adelson for his purported influence over the Trump administration is conceptually similar to right-wing attacks on George Soros. Although it is not reasonable to label any individual expression of Israeli influence or reference to Sheldon Adelson as anti-Semitic, the phenomenon as a whole serves as a reminder that conspiratorial claims about Israeli or Zionist influence over the American political system can create fertile ground for more overt anti-Semitic expressions.
- Max Blumenthal, a well-known left-wing journalist and anti-Israel activist, responded to President Trump’s tweet of the American flag following the assassination with a tweet of his own: “You misspelled the Israeli flag.”
- Writing on the left-wing site CounterPunch, Jefferson Morley wrote, “After Mossad targeted Soleimani, Trump pulled the trigger, adding, “Trump has now fulfilled the wishes of Mossad. After proclaiming his intention to end America’s ‘stupid endless wars,’ the president has effectively declared war on the largest country in the region in solidarity with Israel, the most unpopular country in the Middle East.”
- Anti-Israel activist Philip Weiss argued on his blog that although President Trump sometimes presents himself as an antiwar candidate, his decision to attack General Soleimani was calculated to please Israel and enhance his reelection chances. “Trump is as shrewd as they come and I don’t think he acted to endanger his political fortunes, but to enhance them. Look who is pleased by the attack, Israel,” Weiss wrote. “No doubt Sheldon Adelson, Trump’s biggest donor at well over $100 million to Republican causes, is also pleased by the strike.” It is noteworthy that in July 2019, Weiss wrote another column entitled, “Why are there so many Zionist Jews on Trump’s Middle East team?” In the column Weiss enumerated five “Zionist Jews” and claimed that the “U.S. Treasury Department’s portfolio on Iran…certainly appears to be a branch of the Israel lobby.” He also lamented, “I get attacked as self-hating/anti-Semitic [when] counting how many Zionist Jews are in sensitive government positions.”
- Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney tweeted, “Guaranteed: Trump’s @POTUS statement about Soleimani and Iran was written in Israel. ALL LIES. @realDonaldTrump Zionist puppet.”
Iran and the Muslim World: Iranian public figures and others across the region made anti-Jewish statements related to the killing, whereas statements by Hamas said the US operation was at the behest of “Zionists.”
- Iran’s Mehr News Agency published a commentary from a professor at Imam Sadegh University proclaiming that Soleimani’s death foreshadows the defeat of America and the downfall of the transgressor Israel because Imam Sadegh taught that the destruction of the rebellious Jew was a sign of end times and that the Jewish people would rise up in rebellion and corruption but that God’s strong servants would defeat them, pursuing the Jews from house to house, and this is a prophecy that must be fulfilled, and the narrator asks who are these strong men who [shall] chase the Jews from house to house.
- Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, Member of the Assembly of Experts: He declared that to make sense of Soleimani’s death one should look at the battle over Medina during Quranic times, when “all the Jews and polytheists were united together” and “went to war against the Prophet”.
- Hamas - “We condemn this debauchery and the ongoing American crimes in sowing and spreading discord in the region, in service of the criminal Zionist enemy.
- A Houthi' rally in Saan’a commemorating Soleimani featured chants and signs with their motto "death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews"
- A cartoon featured in Gaza’s pro-Hamas Filastin depicts a Jewish person profiting off inter-Muslim disputes (the text says: “the assassination of Soleimani”).
*Makow bases his claim on an apocryphal letter that was allegedly written by Civil War General Albert Pike in 1871. Conspiracy theorists believe that Pike’s letter, whose text was first publicized by a website in 2003, claimed that the Illuminati would foment WWI between the Russian Czar on one side and the British and Germans on the other in order to establish the rule of Communism in Russia. WWII would be waged between “the Fascists and the political Zionists” so that “Nazism [will] be destroyed” and in order to “institute a sovereign state of Israel in Palestine.” Makow claims that the killing of Soleimani marks the inception of WWIII, which Pike allegedly describes as a battle between “political Zionists and the leaders of the Islamic World [sic],” after which the “pure doctrine of Lucifer” would destroy Christianity and conquer the world. The fact that the terms “Nazism” and “Communism” did not exist in 1871 does not dissuade the conspiracy theorists; Makow claims that the inclusion of those terms in the letter actually substantiates his belief that both political movements would eventually be created by the Illuminati, the purported authors of the letter, whom he believes had settled on names for those movements as early as 1871.