top of page

Antisemitism in the Time of COVID-19 - CAEF Bulletin - April 10, 2020

It will come as no surprise to the Jewish world that conspiracy theories abound about COVID-19, many linking it to a Jewish plot, an Israeli bio-weapon, an Anti-Muslim plan or other abominable notions. It seems to matter not at all to the antisemites that the virus originated in China, that the heaviest hit population group in the US are ultra-orthodox Jews, that Israel is under lockdown to fight the virus, and that there is every likelihood that a treatment or vaccine will be developed by Israeli scientists and, as in the case with generous Jewish genius in the past, such as the discoveries by both Dr. Albert Sabin and Dr. Jonas Salk, the whole world will benefit.

The European Coalition for Israel, a Christian initiative, has produced a wonderful summary of the latest in conspiracy theories arising around the coronavirus, blaming Jews. We cannot ignore this travesty, this insanity, and its current and potential long term harm.

Excerpts are included below and here is a link to the report of the ECI.

Resurgence of conspiracy theories blaming Jews for the coronavirus

Published by the European Coalition for Israel, April 2020

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are witnessing another plague which is historically connected to an international crisis: the resurgence of conspiracy theories blaming the Jews. Going back as far as the 14th century, Jews were blamed for having poisoned the wells, leading to the Black Plague. In the city of Strasbourg alone over 2000 Jews were burnt alive and thousands of others were massacred across Europe. By 1351 there had been 350 Jewish pogroms and 60 major and 150 minor Jewish communities had been exterminated, among them the Jewish community of Brussels.

Today similar accusations are resurging across Europe and around the world as the Jews are being blamed for everything - from having invented the coronavirus to having failed to protect gentiles from it.

Is Israel Discriminating Against Arabs in Accessing Medical Services?

There are more lies about Israel than one can reasonably track in a day, and this one has surfaced online, at the UN, on campuses, amongst infamous Jew-haters like French comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala and Democratic Congresswoman Ilan Omar. The lie is that Israel is treating its Arab population differently during the pandemic than its Jewish population, whether in testing, hospital services, information dissemination or provision of masks and ventilators. All of these claims have been debunked but the lies perpetuate and grow. The internet, that marvel of useful information is also host to the most vicious racism, homophobia, antisemitism and moronic lies. Jonathan Feldstein, an American Israeli, writer and NGO fundraiser and organizer, published an important article which summarizes much of what Israel is actually doing to help not only its own Arab citizens, but also the Gazans and people of PA-controlled communities. In the latter two cases, they are doing more for their enemies who would prefer to destroy Israel, than these Arab brethren are doing for their own.

ECI reports Expansion of University-based antisemitism and anti-Zionism

Examples of antisemitism abound on college campuses around the world. Whereas one would expect knowledge of history and science to prevail in both teaching and civil discourse on campuses, the opposite is too often true. Let’s not just blame the pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel student activists. Some faculty members are major contributors to antisemitism when speaking from their own biases. What are “humanistically” referred to as “progressive” or “social justice” ideals are too often accusatory and discriminatory against Israel. While this anti-Israel bias is well documented in North America, and being tackled on campuses everywhere by CAEF, several Jewish student organizations, and large Jewish organizations, we must pay more attention to this global hate pandemic. Here are European examples provided by ECI in its April report.

Helsinki – Over the last years, many college campuses around the world have become radicalized to the point that some fear that they are gradually becoming a breeding ground for this new Anti-Semitism. Whereas white supremacists and other right-wing extremists are rare species on college campuses, other groups are now more active.

In some countries, there have already been violent confrontations as pro-Israel groups have been physically attacked while meeting on college campuses. For security reasons, addresses for many pro-Israel events in London are sent out only after registration. While physical violence may be the exception rather than the rule, there are other, more effective ways of silencing the pro-Israel voice. It is called “no-platforming” or “de-platforming”, meaning that a person or an event is denied a platform to speak, and it is quickly becoming an effective way of silencing what are considered to be politically incorrect voices on college campuses.

This was again the case when ECI, together with 15 national pro-Israel organizations in Finland, was hosting its annual “Focus Israel” event in the first week of March. The organizers had invited distinguished panellists, including Oxford-educated barrister Natasha Hausdorff and South African Human Rights activist Olga Meshoe, to discuss the human rights situation in Israel, as we thought that this is still a popular topic on college campuses where many BDS groups are active.

We could not have been more wrong. All three universities on our itinerary refused to give us access to their publicly funded venues. Only after a lengthy discussion did the University of Helsinki eventually revise their decision and let us host one of our events, on the condition that we hired our own security guard.

Whereas anti-Israeli organizations are generously funded by Western governments, including the Finnish Non-government, pro-Israel groups are now being denied access to publicly funded universities and in our case the event was said to be “in conflict with the values and principles of the university”. This does not seem to apply to anti-Israel groups which are actively promoting a BDS agenda even though this has been defined as anti-Semitic both by the German and the Austrian parliaments. Using such a double standard in the criticism of Israel is classified as anti-Semitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This brings us to ask the critical question: is open anti-Semitism then compatible with the values and principles of these universities whilst a defense of the only democracy in the Middle East is not compatible and is being “de-platformed”?

CAEF Web Talk Offered an Antidote Against Antisemitism

On April 6th, we featured Yifa Segal, an Israeli lawyer and Executive Director of the International Legal Forum, in a well-attended webinar in which she examined how the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism can now be used to analyze words and actions that heretofore might have raised a controversy as to whether they were antisemitic. It is not just a matter of how threatening or perceived dangerous a statement or action is, but how it contravenes various principles of fairness and justice if applied to Jews, a Jewish community, Judaism or to Israel. Such are discriminatory and antisemitic if they satisfy any of the principles under the IHRA.

In Canada, the “native home” of Israel Apartheid Week, founded at the University of Toronto, CAEF is intent on ending this discriminatory activity. We are investigating all legal and social action options and invite all allied organizations to take this goal seriously. Join our campaign — End IAW and BDS Now!


bottom of page