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COVID-19 conspiracy theories top list of worst anti-Semitic incidents of 2020

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's poster on his website invoking the final solution came in fifth in Simon Wiesenthal Center's ranking of worst anti-Semitic incidents of 2020. EPA-EFE/Handout
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's poster on his website invoking the "final solution" came in fifth in Simon Wiesenthal Center's ranking of worst anti-Semitic incidents of 2020. EPA-EFE/Handout

Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday conspiracy theories blaming Jews for the COVID-19 pandemic topped its 2020 list of worst anti-Semitic incidents.

"Topping the list on SWC's annual Top Ten Worst Global Anti-Semitic Incidents for 2020 is the weaponizing of the COVID-19 pandemic against Jews," the human rights organization's website said. "From the earliest stages of the pandemic in February 2020, far-right extremists across social media platforms have blamed Jews for the virus and this continues as the world begins to take life-saving vaccines."

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The anti-Semitic posts "blamed Jews and Asian Americans for the virus," according to the SWC report. The report cited a post that showed an image titled "Holocough," and then said: "If you have the bug, give a hug. Spread the flu to every Jew." Another anti-Semitic post was a fake Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning urging those with COVID-19 to visit a local synagogue or mosque to spread the virus.

According to the SWC, anti-Semites have a historic pattern of blaming Jews for outbreaks of disease.

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"Anti-Semites have blamed Jews for the medieval Black Plague to the WWI Spanish Flu," the SWC said in the report. "In the 1930s, Nazi propaganda compared Jews to vermin who spread disease."

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Furthermore, the SWC said that the anti-Jewish propaganda has continued with far-right "anti-vaxxers," who took to the streets in Germany to protest COVID-19 vaccination with anti-Semitic slogans.

The report also noted a British government report, which found social media platforms for the anti-vaccination movement have "become a hotbed for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories."

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The social media platform Telegram ranked second on the list, as neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others have turned to the site "with little or no rules on content moderation," amid other platforms, such as Facebook, increasing restrictions against hate groups, the SWC said.

Third on the list was Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, who according to the SWC, has continued a 35-year-long hate campaign, and alleged at one point Jews tried to kill him with "radiated seeds."

In fourth place, were attacks against Jews by far-left and far-right extremists in the United States.

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"Synagogues in Los Angeles and Oakland, California, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, were targeted in the aftermath of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, George Floyd's and Jake Blake's killings," the report said. "Chabad Houses in Portland, Oregon, and Newark, Delaware, were destroyed by arson. On the third night of Chanukah, a member of the Jewish community attending an outdoor menorah lighting ceremony in Kentucky was injured by an anti-Semite driving an SUV."

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At No. 5 on the list, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's website invoked the "Final Solution," a term linked to Nazi Germany's efforts to eliminate Jews during the Holocaust.

Khamenei told Times of Israel he was seeking Israel's destruction, but not elimination of all Jews in response to U.S. leaders accusing him of encouraging genocide.

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Among other items on the SWC's list were Jewish students being targeted at leading U.S. universities and a Democratic Socialist party anti-Semitic questionnaire.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, based in Los Angeles, is named in honor of Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal, a writer, who also hunted down information on Nazi war crimes.

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