COVID-19 has led to an increase in anti-Semitism around the world, according to Tel Aviv University’s annual Kantor Center report. The report cites the revival of old falsehoods and conspiracy theories about Jews spreading disease and causing economic catastrophe by somehow “profiting” off the crisis. Protest signs reflect the spreading canards of hate. On April 18, for instance, one sign by a protestor in Columbus, Ohio, pictured a rat with a Star of David superimposed on the Israeli flag with the caption: “The Real Plague.”
A Massachusetts member of a white supremacist group created an online calendar day designating April 3 as “Jew-killing day,” planting a five-gallon plastic canister filled with gasoline near a Jewish assisted-living home on April 2. The bomb was lit but did not go off. The man was arrested on April 15.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said of the attempted bombing, “In times of national crisis, hatred based on religion often blossoms into violence.”
Kantor called on world leaders to address the problem of growing extremism “already at our door.”
Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Council (EJC), observed: “The language and imagery used clearly identified a revival of the Medieval ‘blood libels’ when Jews were accused of spreading disease, poisoning wells or controlling economies,” he said. “Unfortunately, these manifestations are continuing the consistent rise of anti-Semitism over the last few years, especially online, on the streets and in mainstream society, politics and media.”
Kantor added that as unemployment soars due to mandatory lockdowns, “more people may seek out scapegoats, spun for them by conspiracy theorists.” He called on world leaders to address the problem of growing extremism “already at our door.”
STAND condemns the scapegoating of any religious or other minority. That this rise in anti-Semitism coincided with the week of observance for the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust makes our collective mission to end bigotry and intolerance all the more urgent.