The Offbeat: Same idiocy, different century

Today’s most bizarre Zionist conspiracy theories.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (photo credit: HO - / IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER'S WEBSITE / AFP)
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Jewish conspiracy theories have polluted the pages of history for more than 2,000 years.
Romano-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus battled against what were then already old allegations of ritual murder in his book Against Apion in the early second century. The story goes that a group of Jews would capture a Greek, and then fatten him up and ultimately eat his entrails.
Sound familiar? Variations on that tale would spread throughout medieval Europe, causing the deaths of thousands of Jews.
We would like to think that people were just plain ignorant back then and that times have changed. But when it comes to Jewish conspiracy theories – from ancient blood libel to the Third Reich – it’s more like “same idiocy, different century.” With the establishment of the State of Israel, Jewish conspiracy theories have been largely replaced by Zionist conspiracy theories.
Just read any online comment section, and sooner or later you’ll come across someone’s unhinged anti-Zionist tirade. Despite the word change, the antisemitic spirit and all-around insanity have remained.
So what are some of the best/worst Zionist conspiracies du jour?
1. Pokemon NO
In July 2016, at the height of the worldwide Pokemon GO craze (a Nintendo conspiracy to get us out of our apartments?), Saudi Arabia’s most powerful clerics decided that Pokemon was once again an abomination and reissued a 15-year-old fatwa against the Japanese franchise. Was it something to do with the Japanese? Of course not. Pokemon, according to the General Secretariat of Council of Senior Religious Scholars, promoted evolution and symbols of Freemasonry, polytheism and “global Zionism.” As always, someone has to blame the Pikajew.
2. Feminism is a Zionist plot… or not
Feminism is a Zionist plot to bring down civilization, according to Iran’s supreme leader. This past March, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote that the West’s degradation of women “is most likely among Zionist plots aiming to destroy the society.” He elaborated further, saying that gender equality takes away from a woman’s main responsibility of being a housewife and mother. Ironically, one week before the Ayatollah’s words were published, Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, who helped organize the Women’s March on Washington, claimed that Zionism and feminism were incompatible and “rightwing Zionists” were keeping Palestinian women from being visible in social justice circles.
3. You can’t fool me with that acronym
The Syrian Civil War is one of the most catastrophic and globally impacting current events, so it’s no surprise that today’s biggest Zionist conspiracy theories are about the conflict. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) released a video segment of a November 2015 Egyptian TV broadcast in which the host claimed that Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is a Jewish Mossad agent named Simon Elliot and that ISIS is a joint Israeli-British-American venture created to spread Islamophobia.
The proof? It’s right there in the name, folks. ISIS = Israeli Secret Intelligence Service. So obvious, right? Incredibly, millions of people around the globe believe that the Mossad is deceptive and powerful enough to pull off this scheme and take over Syria and Iraq, yet, at the same time, stupid enough to name ISIS after the agency’s job description… in English. Classic, cheeky Mossad.
Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan told PressTV reporters a similar tale in May 2016. “What is happening today in Syria and Iraq is a deep-seated US-Zionist conspiracy that has triggered war in Muslim territories,” he said. Dehghan also accused Israel of supplying weapons to ISIS terrorists: “Zionists are supporting terrorists and equipping them, pitting them against Muslims. What is important for them is to guarantee the Zionist regime’s security.”
But Iran and the Arab world aren't the only ones who believe that Israel has a hand in Syria. Since the 1970s, neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups have claimed that liberal Western nations are controlled by ZOG – Zionist Occupied Government – whose goal is to eradicate the white race and its culture.
The rise of the alt-right and resurgence of the European far-right amid the Syrian refugee crisis has breathed new life into an old conspiracy. The Internet-ready, meme-approved version of the ZOG conspiracy theory goes like this: Israel is instigating a war and global migration crisis in order to replace the white populace of European nations, thus causing a “white genocide.” Many believers of the Zionist-led white genocide conspiracy theory simultaneously downplay or outright deny the Holocaust.
4. Zio-lympics
In a social media world filled with easily shared content, logos and slogans are everything. Bright colors, cool fonts, rad symbols. So when London was announced as host of the 2012 Summer Olympics, the design team was pumped and challenged to create the perfect logo. They ultimately chose a relatively straightforward design – a jagged 2012 with the Olympic rings in the 0. Some people were critical of the design, but no one could have foreseen the issues the Iranian delegation had. Tehran sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) threatening to boycott the games unless the logo was replaced and the designers held accountable. The reason? When configured as it was in the logo, “2012” sort of looked like the word “Zion.” The IOC refused to remove the logo, saying that 2012 represented 2012 and nothing more. Iran ultimately decided against boycotting the games.
5. A Noah’s Ark of Zionism
Zionists are basically the Doctor Dolittle of the Middle East. You would think animals would be neutral when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, but these biting and barking Israeli agents just can’t help themselves. In 2010, several shark attacks happened near Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt. After a GPS tracking device was found on one of the sharks, people started claiming that Israeli agents controlled the aggressive sharks. Mohammad Abdul Fadhil Shousha, the then-governor of South Sinai, only fanned the flames of conspiracy theories when he said, “What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark [into the sea] to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question.” He later said the allegations against the sharks were false.
Israel is close to its Arab neighbors geographically, so when researchers put trackers on animals in order to observe them, the creatures can easily wander into another country. In 2011, a vulture with a Tel Aviv University tag was found in Saudi Arabia, flaming locals’ fears that they were being spied on by the Jewish state. The bird was finally released after a Saudi prince dismissed the claims.
Palestinians in the West Bank have accused Israel many times of releasing animals to wreak havoc in their fields. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted in a 2014 speech as saying, “Every night, they [Israelis] release wild pigs against us. Why are they doing this to us?” Wafa, the Palestinian Authority news agency, published a story in 2008 which claimed that Israel trained and released supernatural rats in the Old City of Jerusalem to terrorize Arab residents.
6. #MossadStoleMyShoe
This is a bit of a bonus story, as it was a single person who decided the Mossad was out to get him, but it’s too good not to include. Asghar Bukhari, a founding member of the London-based lobbying group Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK, created a media firestorm in June 2015 when he posted a long diatribe on Facebook. “Are Zionists trying to intimidate me? Someone came into my home yesterday while I was asleep. I don’t know how they got in, but they didn’t break in… the only thing they took was one shoe.” Bukhari was immediately satirized, and #MossadStoleMyShoe trended on Twitter.
GERMAN-JEWISH composer Friedrich Hollaender wrote his cabaret hit “An allem sind die Juden schuld” in 1931. Set to the tune of the opera Carmen, it was a satirical piece mocking the Nazi obsession with and propagation of absurd Jewish conspiracy theories. The song title translates to “The Jews are to blame for everything.” Now, Zionists are to blame for stealing people’s shoes and training spy sharks – proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same.