The world is facing a pandemic and conspiracy theories abound. Yair Rosenberg, senior writer for Tablet Magazine, aptly coined the term, “The Goebbels Gap,” for a specific phenomenon: the amount of time between something bad happening in the world and someone figuring out a way to blame the Jews for it.
A screenshot of this was in an article about Rosanna Arquette’s March 17th tweet in which she blamed Israel for putting “lives at risk for profit.”
The day before that, Turkish politician, Fatih Erbakan, took on a different angle with the same trope. "Though we do not have certain evidence,” he said, “this virus serves Zionism's goals of decreasing the number of people and preventing it from increasing, and important research expresses this.”
On March 11th, Ku Klux Klan former grand wizard, David Duke, suggested that the “ZioElite” were out to get President Trump – by trying to infect him (deliberately) with the virus. He doubled down on his suspicion the next day with, “Does president Donald Trump have coronavirus? Are Israel and the Global Zionist elite up to their old tricks?” President Trump has tested negative, but it’s clear who Duke would’ve blamed if he hadn’t.
Iranian leaders continually manufacture hatred against Israel to deflect it from them. Their erroneous accusations started flowing even earlier.
Palestinian Arab outlets published several op-eds with conspiracies ranging from suggestions that the Jews are trying to start a third world war (after, of course, being the cause of the first two world wars) to Israel and the US having no choice “ . . . but to resort to biological weapons, . . . to halt China's advance and its economic takeover of the world.”
And, Professor Asad Abukhalil of California State University, Stanislaus, claimed that the Israeli government would incarcerate non-Jews infected with the virus.
The common theme of these outrageous lies is that somehow Jews and/or Zionists are responsible for the creation, and/or spread, of this tragic outbreak that took its first victims in its epicenter, Wuhan, China - and, of course, don't care about anyone non-Jewish..
Smearing Jews with outright lies, or magnifying any wrongdoing, is an ancient tactic used to forward nefarious goals. The most dangerous form is a blood libel.
Yet, the most unsettling form is when it is Jews who aim to reinforce such wrong and negative stereotypes against other Jews.
On March 18th, the university branch of J Street retweeted an article from the anti-Zionist outlet +972 Magazine titled, “Israel didn’t publish coronavirus guidance in Arabic — so Palestinians stepped in.” Though all of J Street U’s tweets have varying degrees of scorn and lack of understanding toward Israel and its history, this particular tweet, contributing to the conspiracies surrounding Jews and the novel coronavirus, is especially insidious.
J Street U was quick to accept and spew anti-Israel propaganda, further compounding an already increasing rise in antisemitism. Zionists who really are pro-peace and pro-Israel do not deny Arab/Israeli cooperation but cheer it on.
March 5th, a week before the +972 Magazine piece came out, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) published their report, “Joint Israeli & Palestinian medical teams work to prevent further spread of Coronavirus.” This article makes special note of instructions made available in Arabic. It states, “In addition [to helping the Palestinian Authority and transferring hundreds of test kits from Israel to the PA], COGAT has made available to the Palestinian public through its digital platform – the unit's website and Arabic language social media pages (Al-Munassiq) – the Israeli health ministry guidelines on prevention and protection from the virus spread and ways to deal with contagion and outbreak. The information published in Arabic is available to the entire Palestinian public in Judea and Samaria and in the Gaza Strip.”
This means that the Israel Health Ministry already had guidelines available in Arabic. And even if there had been a chance of a short delay, would Israel not get the benefit of the doubt from the self-identifying, “pro-Israel, pro-peace,” J Street U crowd? After all, this is a pandemic that we’re all experiencing firsthand. The speed and confusion in the midst of this illness has been unprecedented to the generations now experiencing it. Yet J Street U rushed to join in on the tactic of some of the vilest antisemites in tarnishing Israel.
I’m disappointed, but not surprised. After all, it takes a special kind of “tolerance” to affectionately embrace one of the most extreme anti-Israel propogandists, a man who keeps a bank account to reward Palestinian Arabs, after inciting them to violence, with extra generous payments for killing Jews instead of just maiming them, but cruelly punishes Palestinian Arabs who choose to sell their own property to Jews. Nonetheless, Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of J Street, double-cheek-kissed Mahmoud Abbas just last month.
J Street U is as pro-Israel as the founder of its namesake, J Street. Both movements direct their members to damage the country they claim to support. It’s time they reexamine their actions – or adopt a new slogan.
Faith Quintero is the author of Loaded Blessings, a family saga that alternates between Inquisition era Spain and modern-day Israel. It’s among the Federalist’s top books of 2019 list and a Montaigne Medal finalist for the Eric Hoffer awards. The Montaigne Medal is an additional distinction, awarded to "the most thought-provoking books."