Sunday, May 17, 2020

Europe: A pandemic of anti-Zionist signification: exploiting Gaza for ideological gain

Via Fathom - Cary Nelson:
As Gaza was acquiring its first two cases of the coronavirus in March 2020, the world’s longest hatred inevitably found local expression. […]  
The Anti-Defamation League is formally tracking anti-Semitic COVID-19 accusations internationally, documenting a number of them in its 25 March report ‘International Scapegoating of Israel and Jews for Spreading COVID-19.’[iv] In France, ‘Alain Mondino, head of a party list belonging to the far-right National Rally political party, posted a video on social media trying to link Jews to the spread of the coronavirus.’ ‘French far-right figure Henry de Lesquen spoke at a “Swiss Resistance” meeting in Aigle and said “There’s worse than coronavirus—judeovirus (Jewish virus).”’ Echoing a number of similar slanders, ‘Ivo Sasek, a Swiss Holocaust denier, posted on his organisation’s website,, an article falsely accusing Jewish American George Soros of spreading the virus.’[v] The trend is mounting across Europe: ‘In an article published on the extremist Spanish website,, the far-left Basque political party, Herritar Batasuna, wrote: ‘Today, March 14, we emphatically declare that the coronavirus is an instrument of the Third World War that has unleashed Yankee Zionist imperialism. The Anglo-Saxon capitalist and Zionist elite that is the enemy of all Humanity has taken a further step in its criminal and genocidal offensive.’ […]

It is easy to cast out far-right anti-Semitism from a zone of supposedly rational debate. Some of the more virulent anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do come from the dark web. Some spring from pervasively hostile countries like Iran. Anti-Zionist faculty members prefer to believe they are engaged in reasoned critique of Israeli policies. But coronavirus conspiracism does not establish a clear line between rational and irrational argument. At best there is a continuum along which one may place different rhetorical strategies and claims. This emerging conspiracism echoes centuries of anti-Semitism based on medical accusations. As Topor reminds us, ‘During the Black Death pandemic of the Middle Ages (1347-61) Jews were accused of “poisoning the wells.”’ Now, ‘Al Masdar, an Algerian news website recently published a report titled ‘”A Zionist organisation is behind the coronavirus and the Zionist entity (Israel) claims to have found the vaccine.”’ The Jews distribute the virus, then control the cure; they want us under their power.

Such views actually underlie a letter that recently appeared in a distinguished biomedical journal, The Lancet. While the publication was withdrawn by the journal’s editors shortly after being distributed, it is worth analysing the letter’s arguments because they are both unique and representative. What is unique, first, is that such a letter made its way into a major medical journal, and, second, that the journal’s editors did the right thing and removed the letter from their website after receiving several complaints (including one from me that made a number of the points raised here) detailing what was inaccurate or biased in the letter. But the letter is unfortunately also representative of what are likely to be an increasing number of publications by academics, journalists, and activists taking advantage of a world crisis to denounce Israel for any spread of the virus in Gaza and the West Bank.

In their 26 March letter in the The Lancet, titled ‘Structural violence in the era of a new pandemic: the case of the Gaza Strip,’ David Mills and three coauthors join a small but counterproductive effort to weaponise the serious concern that Gaza could succumb to the COVID-19 pandemic by using it to comprehensively delegitimise the Jewish state.[ix] Following the pattern modelled for years in the international BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, they make no realistic suggestions about how to improve Gaza’s fragile, decaying infrastructure and instead concentrate on demonising Israel. Nor do they hold Hamas leaders responsible for their indifference to the general health and welfare of Gazans, the iron and cement smuggled from Egypt used for attack tunnels not building hospitals.
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