New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets representatives of the Muslim community at Canterbury refugee centre in Christchurch, New Zealand March 16, 2019. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
At a speech in front of a thousand people in Auckland, a preacher blamed Israel and the Mossad for the massacre of 50 people on March 15. Just over a week after the massacre, which a white supremacist took credit for in a manifesto and online postings, the Jewish state is being singled out for blame as part of a new conspiracy theory in New Zealand.
In video posted by David Cumin on March 24, a preacher speaking to a large crowd can be heard saying, “I will not mince words, I have a strong suspicion that there is some group behind him and I am not afraid to say it, I feel the Mossad is behind him.” A man in the crowd shouted in agreement. “That is the truth, Israel is behind it.” Cumin has asked if the New Zealand Human Rights Commission or Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand will condemn the speech. The Human Rights Commission tweeted in response, "Prejudice against Jewish people has no place in New Zealand. We must condemn racism, hate and anti-semitism whenever we see it."
“Astonishing that at an ‘anti-racism’ rally in Auckland, conspiracy theories were loudspeakered that ‘Zionist’ businesses and the ‘Mossad’ were behind Christchurch shooting,” wrote Josh Brown. Newshub, a local media group, posted an article identifying the speaker as Ahmed Bhamji, chairman of the Mt. Roskill Masjid E Umar. The event was supposed to be an anti-racism rally organized by Love Aotearoa Hate Racism.
The attempt to blame Jews and Israel for the Christchurch massacre targeting Muslims and carried out by a white supremacist comes as New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed never to mention the perpetrator’s name. This may have fed conspiracy theories, because New Zealand has also banned access to video of the shooting, which the perpetrator live streamed, and also banned access to the murderer’s manifesto. According to Newshub, the Chief Censor of New Zealand David Shanks said that the 74-page manifesto is objectionable and it is now an offense “to share or even possess it.” However it seems New Zealand doesn’t have a problem with Mein Kampf, with the Newshub piece noting that “this is how it [the shooter’s manifesto] differs to Mein Kampf, a book written by Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler in 1925 while he was in prison for treason. While Mein Kampf outlines Hitler’s desire to see the Jewish people exterminated, it doesn’t say how.”
The episode in New Zealand is the latest in which anti-racism and progressive groups have waded into hot water by being linked to antisemitism. In the US, the Women’s March has been castigated for comments against Jews. In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has been rocked by several antisemitism scandals.
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