WASHINGTON – Federal agencies fear domestic extremists may use the coronavirus pandemic to attack Asians and Jews, a Yahoo News bulletin said. This bulletin reflects what organizations that monitor online hate content also find.
The bulletin, a joint effort by the Department of Justice, the National Counter-Terrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security, is dated April 7.
The document states that domestic violent extremists, known as DVEs, “have attempted to launch or launch attacks, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor in the timing or motivation for their attacks.”
It also says that “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” or RMVEs, “campaigning for the superiority of the white race, are trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to bolster their narratives and attack and hate crimes against minorities, including Jewish and Jewish, to promote Asian Americans, and some RMVEs claim that government responses to the pandemic could crash the global economy, accelerate the breakdown of society, and lead to racial warfare. ”
Some members of Congress want such extremists to be treated like foreign terrorists, but a coherent national statute does not yet exist.
The internal document shows that extremists have been encouraged by the pandemic. “Conspiratorial tales blaming a pandemic for a Jewish conspiracy or China are increasing the risk of retaliation against Jewish Americans and Asian Americans,” it said. “Other DVEs have made common statements that law enforcement will not be able to prevent DVE attacks on minorities or suppress unrest.”
Anti-Semitism has increased worldwide in the course of the pandemic that started in December.
Iran was in the midst of an outbreak of the corona virus that killed hundreds of its citizens, and the nation’s leaders in Tehran knew exactly who to blame. “Zionist elements developed a deadlier coronavirus strain against Iran,” said a propaganda outlet there.
David Clarke, the former sheriff of Milwaukee County who has become an extreme right-wing media treasure, also had ideas about where the epidemic came from. “Not ONE media company asked about George Soros’ involvement in this FLU panic,” Clarke wrote in one Twitter message about the prominent Jewish billionaire who has long been a target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
“He’s involved in it somewhere,” Clarke told his 914.00 Twitter followers. The news was widely condemned, but also widespread, with around 1,200 retweets and 3,700 likes.
The global crisis tends to lead to anti-Semitism, and the coronavirus pandemic is no exception. According to a report on the outbreak of the coronavirus by SITE Intelligence, a private company that monitors extremism, Jews, along with people of Chinese origin, are the main targets of extremist content related to the pandemic. Some of these extremists believe Israel created the virus, while others believe they can use the virus to harm Jews.
“While anti-Semitism is a constant on the far right,” said the author of the report, Rita Katz, “this trend is undoubtedly exacerbated by the global status of the pandemic.”
Anti-Semitism is “a great theory of everything,” says Bari Weiss, author of the book “How to Fight Anti-Semitism” and a columnist for the New York Times. “It is a conspiracy that can explain the whole world. So no one should be surprised that everything is blamed on us, from bad weather to financial crises to this pandemic. “(And yes, people really blamed Jews for bad weather in the form of climate change.)
Weiss quotes the 19th-century anti-Semite Edouard Drumont: “Everything comes from the Jew; Everything returns to the Jew. “This includes a pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China, a city without a single synagogue. However, the city has a test facility operated by WuXi AppTec, a Shanghai-based pharmaceutical company. Conspiracy theorists have decided that WuXi created the virus – although scientists have long said that the virus does not carry any of the markers for something that was developed in a laboratory – and they are convinced that Soros owns the pharmacy company, which is also not true.
But for those prone to hateful ideas, the virus outbreak that has haunted the world and confused and terrified billions was a perfect gift.
On the Telegram social media site, which has become popular with extremists, a group called CoronaWaffen (“weapons” is a term for a Nazi military outfit) asked users where they would go if they knew they were are infected with the corona virus. By far the best answer was “Synagogue”, which was preferred by 76 percent of those questioned. The answer No. 2 was “Muslim temple” with 5 percent.
On another right-wing social media site called Gab, a user wrote: “If we don’t deport these dirty Jews, this pandemic will never stop!” The user’s screen name was “diejewdie”.
Zignal Labs, a data analysis company in San Francisco, found that between February 1 and March 30, 104,400 “highly validated anti-Semitic content was included in the COVID-19 conversation” (COVID-19 is the potentially fatal disease caused by the corona virus). A Zignal analyst who conducted the review said there was a “significant and absolute increase” in online anti-Semitic content that coincided with the coronavirus pandemic.
Soros was at the center of anti-Semitic coronavirus conspiracy theories because of his wealth and politics. According to Google Trends, a tool that deals with Internet searches, the search for his name increased between March 15th and 21st. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11.
The Zignal analysis similarly showed that in February and March, 180,586 Soros were mentioned on the corona virus on all platforms.
Soros is hardly the only prominent Jewish person exposed to anti-Semitic allegations regarding the pandemic. In an apparent return to older anti-Semitic tropics, Zignal found that 18,689 mentions of the famous Rothschild family were made, which were the target of finance-related conspiracy theories in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.
A pro Trump pastor in Florida went back in time and seemed to point to old (and reduced) suggestions that Jews spurned Jesus Christ. “It spreads through the synagogues in Israel,” said the pastor. “God spreads it in your synagogues! You are condemned for resisting his son Jesus Christ. That is why you have plague in your synagogues. Repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ, and the plague will stop. “
Since the coronavirus is believed to originate from southeastern China, people of Asian descent are exposed to the brunt of coronavirus hatred, including a flood of verbal and physical assaults in the United States.
President Trump has been accused of promoting an atmosphere of anti-Asian bias by insisting on calling the agent “the Chinese virus,” which underscores its foreign origins. He has not used the term since then.
Nevertheless, the bias against Asian Americans remains. This also applies to the associated anti-Semitism, which experts say has increased as the coronavirus spread from East Asia to the Middle East and then to Europe and the United States. Both types of hatred have developed in the social media greenhouse, where conspiracy theories thrive unchecked.
Anti-Semitism is not just based on marginal figures. A member of the Indian Parliament incorrectly claimed on Twitter that “there have been no deaths from COVID-19 in Israel”.
A columnist in Pakistan said the corona virus was “a new weapon in biological warfare and a Zionist conspiracy.”
Some people “always use Jews to explain bad things easily,” says Ira Forman, a former State Department official who is persecuting anti-Semitism.
During the outbreak of bubonic plague in the 14th century, it was believed that Jews in many parts of Europe caused so-called black death by poisoning wells. Many centuries later, some Jews blamed HIV / AIDS.
Forman notes that anti-Semitism was exacerbated by the fact that New Rochelle, a suburb of New York with a large Jewish population, was an early hot spot with a synagogue called Young Israel serving as a transfer point. COVID-19 was also diagnosed in several people attending the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual meeting in Washington. AIPAC’s link to the Zionist movement was another point that anti-Semites could take advantage of.
“We weren’t surprised,” says extremism researcher Aryeh Tuchman of the Anti-Defamation League, which combats anti-Semitism and other forms of bias. “Anti-Semites will hold Jews responsible for everything,” he says, even for a virus that cannot distinguish between different ethnic groups and religions.
During a recent meeting of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Tuchman showed some of the examples of anti-Semitism available online. This included a social media image that is said to be coronavirus particles enlarged with a microscope. The picture caricatured Jews in the traditional anti-Semitic style with hooked noses and plump lips. The figures wear Star of David hats.
Many anti-Semites believe that Jews try to “infiltrate” sections of society and “implement a globalist agenda,” said Tuchman. He showed a picture of the Trojan horse, which in the Homeric legend used Greek armies as a trick to gain access to the walled city of Troy. In the coronavirus version, however, the horse’s head was a coronavirus particle, while a smiling cartoon of a Jew was sitting in the horse’s belly.
Another image shared by Tuchman showed a coronavirus particle. “Zionism,” said the image, “is the deadliest virus on earth.”
Jana Winter contributed to this article.
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