May 27, 2020
As the international community struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, ADL continues to monitor antisemitism and extreme anti-Israel sentiment related to the virus on social and traditional media. Over the past few weeks, ADL has documented this trend in the United States and around the world, and issued a call for social media companies to take action to address antisemitism and other forms of bigotry related to coronavirus on their platforms.
We’ve also seen manifestations of this type of hate throughout the Spanish-speaking world, with a proliferation of social and traditional media posts blaming Israel and Jews for creating and spreading the virus, as well as comparing the State of Israel to COVID-19.
Blaming Israel and Jews as Responsible for Creating and Spreading the Virus
The conspiracy theory that Israel and Jews are responsible for spreading the virus perpetuates an age-old antisemitic conspiracy about Jews infecting others to gain control and power.
- An online article in aporrea.org: Aporrea is self-proclaimed leftist website based in Venezuela with a history of promoting antisemitic conspiracies. The article asserted that “Zionists” used COVID-19 to help foster a coup against the regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela: “As the mercenary media in the service of imperialism and Zionism have made us believe, in the midst of a global emergency for the coronavirus pandemic whose impact has paralyzed industry… now there is a new offensive to advance the superior strength of armed fascist groups [in Venezuela]…It’s a public fact that the coup is a “business” of the White House who serves the owners of the world economic power of Zionism and Imperialism.” (May 5, 2020)
- An online article in HispanTV: HispanTV is a Spanish-language news network operated by Iran’s state-owned broadcasting corporation. The article alleged that a US-based “Zionist lobby” group is working to spread the virus in Iran: "United against a Nuclear Iran" is just one of the many Israeli pressure groups that control US foreign policy…the Zionist lobby… The group is now trying to spread the coronavirus in Iran, a strain suspected to be an American-Israeli creation, because otherwise how could an Israeli pharmaceutical company claim to have a vaccine against the coronavirus in less than two weeks, when all the scientists said that it would take at least a year of intense work to get a vaccine.” (March 8, 2020)
- An online article in HispanTV: The article falsely claims that the spread of coronavirus was the result of a Zionist plot. “…This virus serves Zionism's goals to decrease the number of people in the world…While the deadly virus continues to spread in the world, different analysts and doctors evaluate as highly possible that COVID-19 is a laboratory-made virus by the United States and the Israeli regime.” (March 19, 2020)
- An antisemitic blog titled “The Eternal Jewish Pest”: The blog cited the infamous forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as proof that Jews are behind the spread of COVID-19, including through their manipulation of and assimilation into China: “The Jews have married the local Chinese enough to be indistinguishable from their non-Jewish neighbors as have the Jews who occupy Europe...In fact, the founding of the Communist Party of China (CCP) in 1921, a Jewish ideology invented by the Jew Karl Marx, the grandson of a long line of rabbis, is testament to the concealment and manipulation behind his formidable rise.” (May 9, 2020).
Individual Social Media Postings:
There were also a number of social media posts accusing “Zionists” of being behind COVID-19. Examples include:
- Virus created in a lab financed by a “Zionist company” (March 8, 2020)
- “Jewish Zionists” scientists designed the coronavirus with help from China (February 6, 2020)
- Zionist ownership of the vaccine and its labs (April 28, 2020)
- Zionist Hollywood industry referencing future films on the virus (April 16, 2020)
Caption: Know your enemy, these are the people who control the World. Names of Jewish people include Rothschild, Henry Kissinger, George Soros, Larry Summers and Lloyd Blankfein (April 26, 2020)
Comparisons between Coronavirus and Israel
There have also been comparisons between the COVID-19 virus and Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians, with Israel being referred to as a virus. In an effort to play on the term “COVID-19”, anti-Israel voices have referred to Israel as “Zion-48”, a reference to the year Israel was founded (1948)
- In an op-ed published by the Chilean journalist Pablo Jofre Leal on the website of the Palestinian Federation of Chile, Jofre Leal attacks pro-Israel members of the Chilean Parliament, and contends that “unlike COVID-19 which impacts people’s respiratory systems.., the Zionist 48 virus affects the moral compass of [its] defenders, especially in the Chilean Parliament… the Chilean-Israeli Parliamentary group through its support of the Zionist entity is an accomplice of a terrorist regime and a violator of International law.” Jofre Leal writes for both Iranian network HispanTV and Venezuelan-based TeleSur. (May 12, 2020)
- In another op-ed, Jofre Leal plays up the blood libel myth about Jews, arguing that Israel spreads through the land in the same way a virus corrupts the body: “...Israel is a violent entity and society, fed in the blood of the peoples of the region and especially nourished by the blood of the Palestinian people, by the life of its men and women, fertilized by the land of a people that began to receive in its bosom to foreign colonists, who as a virulent pathogen began to generate a deadly metastasis: the Virus Zion 48, which became a cyst in Palestine, spreading this infectious focus throughout the Mediterranean Levante…” (May 3, 2020)
- A cartoon in the website ababil.org states that the Israeli regime is the real virus in Palestine. The cartoon reads: “The occupation State closes the majority of the doors to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to fight against the coronavirus pandemic while it allows for dozens of settlers to assault the sacred Mosque.”
- A cartoon by the Palestinian Federation of Chile suggests that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using coronavirus “to continue aggression against Palestine, the explosion of their population, the demolition of their homes, the colonization of Palestinian territory and the goal to annex the West Bank.” (April 14, 2020).
- A tweet referencing Covid1948, as “the beginning of the Zionist pandemic in the world” (May 10, 2020)
- Basem Tajeldine, a Venezuelan analyst for HispanTV, TeleSur and Aporrea posted on Instagram: “The #IsraHell virus is as much an assassin as is #COVID-19. It has also eaten the lungs of the #Palestinian people since the #Nakba in 1947 until this day.” (May 15, 2020)