Palestinian activists and groups as well as far-right and white supremacist groups have all been engaging in antisemitic rhetoric against Jews and Israel during the COVID-19 pandemic a report by the Israel Strategic Affairs Ministry has found.
The report juxtaposed the use by these ideologically diverse groups of similar antisemitic messages.
It showed how the far right accuses Jews in general of deliberately spreading COVID-19, of benefiting or profiting from the disease, and equating Jews to the coronavirus and disease in general.
Palestinian groups working to advance the boycott of Israel have similarly depicted Israel and Zionism as being the COVID-19 disease, compared the occupation to the coronavirus, and accused Israel of either spreading or benefiting from the pandemic.
The ministry’s report, based on online resources, accuses the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement of also engaging in antisemitism regarding COVID-19, although most such examples came from Palestinian organizations and activists, not internationally based BDS groups.
Examples of far-right antisemitism relating to COVID-19, include antisemitic depictions of Jews replicating the coronavirus, depictions of Jews as the virus, and a placard held by a demonstrator in Ohio in the US depicting a rat as a Jew bearing a Star of David and the slogan “The real plague.”
Pro-Palestinian activists have depicted the flag of Israel as COVID-19, used the social media hashtag #covid48 in reference to founding of the State of Israel in 1948, and described Israel’s control of the West Bank, or “the occupation,” as “the most dangerous virus in the world.
Another image used by pro-Palestinian activists showed an image of a syringe bearing the phrase “Covid48” being injected into the arm of a handcuffed man, intended to represent a Palestinian prisoner.
The activist tweeted alongside the image “The real epidemic is this Zionist entity and is considered more deadly and dangerous than the Corona epidemic.”
The US branch of the Palestinian Youth Movement, an organization of ex-patriate Palestinians which opposes the State of Israel and support BDS, published an illustration on Twitter showing an IDF soldier coughing deliberately on Palestinian prisoners COVID-19.
“The common motif of much of the antisemitic rhetoric of both these groups is the equation of Jews and/or Israel to the coronavirus, with the libel that Jews/Israel are using or spreading the virus for political or economic gain,” the report states.
“Thus, the coronavirus provides a perfect ‘test case’ for observing how a common motif and libel is being used by both classic antisemites on the far right against Jews, and new antisemites and Israel delegitimizers, including the far left, against the State of Israel.”