Antisemitism strains evolve with COVID-19 - report

A British advocacy group, Hope not Hate, has released its findings on the state of discrimination in Britain, including findings on antisemitism, COVID-19 and QAnon.

Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies for those who oppose antisemitism, in Parliament Square in London. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies for those who oppose antisemitism, in Parliament Square in London.
(photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
 A British advocacy group, Hope not Hate, has released its findings on the state of discrimination in Britain, including findings on antisemitism, COVID-19 and QAnon.
Hope not Hate emphasized the ever-changing nature of discriminatory ideologies and extremist methodology. New antisemitic streams of thought have developed during the coronavirus pandemic and the increasing popularity of the QAnon conspiracies, capitalizing on similar narratives between them and classic antisemitic rhetoric.
Zoom-bombing and other attacks on Jewish online events have been popularized as 2020 daily life moved online. In one notable example, the online shiva (week of mourning) for Liverpool resident Linda Huglin was disrupted by Neo-Nazis sharing swastikas and images of Adolf Hitler.
According to the record of Community Security Trust (CST), a charitable organization that seeks to protect Jews from antisemitism and related threats, there were 1,668 antisemitic incidents recorded in Britain in 2020. While this is the third-highest total ever recorded, it is still an 8% decrease from 2019.
CST and Hope not Hate noted that there was a surge in antisemitic rhetoric related to COVID-19, mostly centering on the idea that the novel coronavirus was created by Jews. Some of the conspiracies claim that the virus is part of a Jewish effort to cull society, while others claim that Jewish elites created the virus to create financial opportunities.
According to data collected by the University of Oxford, one in five British people believe the latter conspiracy. The libel of Jews spreading disease is an old antisemitic trope dating as far back as the Black Death in the mid-14th century. 
While not included in the report, Israel has also featured heavily in COVID-19 antisemitism rhetoric. Some have pointed to Israel's successful responses to coronavirus as proof that the Jews created it.
There has also been a surge in comparisons of Israel and Jews to the coronavirus. The hashtag #COVID48 has been used by Palestinian activists along with imagery of cleaning and inoculating the Levant from Israelis. Similarly, the #COVID1948 Twitter campaign was used by Iranian regime-affiliated organizations and sympathizers. 
 
Hope not Hate also reviewed the relation between QAnon and antisemitism. According to their report, their have been several instances of antisemitic QAnon posts and content. The ADL also reviewed QAnon in 2017, but found only limited overlap between the movement and antisemitism.
It appears that antisemites have attempted to capitalize on QAnon's pedophilia and child sacrifice conspiracy theories and classic blood libels. Antisemitic theories about ritual murder have existed in England since the unsolved medieval murder of William of Norwich. The stabbing of the boy was blamed on a cabal of Jews, who were charged with having crucified him.
QAnon is a set of conspiracy theories claiming that former President Donald Trump was involved in a secret war against a cabal of cannibalistic, pedophilic high-level political elites, and there is an impending "storm" in which the cabal will be outed and arrested.
"QAnon" is an amalgamation of "Q" and "Anonymous." Anon is the nickname for users on the online forum 4chan, which is an anonymous platform where the conspiracies first emerged, posted by a user known as "Q." 
2020 also saw discussion about antisemitism in the UK about Jew-hatred within the British political system, namely within the Labour Party. The Equality and Human Rights Commission of the UK released a report showing that Labour failed to address antisemitism's spread within its ranks.