At yesterday’s Jerusalem Post’s virtual conference, ‘COVID-19 and the Jews: Challenges and Opportunities,’ a panel of experts, including Jacob Dallal, Director of Academic Affairs for the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Professor Dina Porat, head of the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry and chief historian of Yad Vashem, and Carole Nuriel, director of ADL Israel, discussed how Israel and the Jewish people are being delegitimized during the Corona pandemic.
Jacob Dallal showed photos and caricatures comparing classic and new forms of antisemitism in the coronavirus context. Classic forms, he explained, blame Jews for using the coronavirus to control the world, while the new form of antisemitism blames Israel for using coronavirus to control the Palestinians. A common motif that is shared between these two forms, he said, is that of poisoning. He pointed to a caricature of the former health Minister of France, who is Jewish, poisoning a well and juxtaposed that with a caricature showing Israel injecting the coronavirus into a Palestinian prisoner. “Our concern,” said Dallal, “is that these sort of caricatures and rhetoric is now on-line, and can lead to violence against Jews, supporters of Israel, and Israelis.”
Professor Porat addressed the point that both the extreme left and extreme right have united to blame Jews and Israel, saying that this is not a new phenomenon. “Movements that are radically opposed to one another find a way to cooperate or say the same thing about the Jews. In the 19th century, universalism and nationalism each blamed the Jew from the other side.” What is new and dangerous about antisemitism stemming from Corona, she said, is that it cannot be divided into coming from the extreme right or left. Material blaming the Jews and Israel has come from 35 different countries, she said.
Carole Nuriel of ADL Israel pointed out more antisemitism is appearing online because more people – both the haters and those who read their material – are at home. She added that the high infection rate among Jews brought communal practice to the forefront and added to the antisemitic nature of criticism.
At the panel’s conclusion, Jacob Dallal said that pro-Israel organizations and governments need to work together as a coalition to combat the phenomenon of antisemitism spawned by Corona.