Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, antisemitic hate crimes and social media has increased globally. This includes physical and verbal assault, vandalism, the spreading of Nazi hate symbols, antisemitic social media posts, antisemitic beliefs and conspiracy theories shared online, and more.
Multiple Vanguard University students have witnessed examples of antisemitism online, such as blaming the Jewish population for various political events or comparing relatively minor inconveniences to the Holocaust. Raylene Rivera, VU sophomore, aid “[t]hroughout the pandemic I have seen comparisons of the mask mandate to the concentration camps during the Holocaust. This is extremely antisemitic and hurtful to those whose families actually went through that horrible time.” Rivera referred to a protest of the mask mandate in which protestors wore yellow stars to mimic Jewish people who were sent to concentration camps during World War II.
Giovanni Cueva, VU graduate, pointed out the increase of antisemitism surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict of 2021. He said “the two terrorist groups [in Palestine] started attacking Israel, and the moment Israel strikes back, all of the news outlets blame Israel. CNN did, even Fox News did.” Cueva also mentioned that he’s heard about antisemitic attacks “here in California on the west side” after news broke on the Israel-Palestine conflict, but that media coverage was “general, hiding it under the rug, very biased, not headline news”.
One recent incident of antisemitism is when in January 2022, Whoopi Goldberg from The View claimed that the Holocaust was “not about race” and that it was “white people doing it to white people” despite the fact that Hitler’s justification for the Holocaust was that he believed the Jewish people were an inferior race. ABC News gave her a two-week suspension for her comments.
Jade McClintock, VU sophomore, said “There’s a filter on Instagram that gives you tattoos and one of them is a Nazi symbol and Instagram has refused to take it down claiming ‘free speech’.” The Instagram filter makes its user appear to be covered in tattoos, one of which is a Nazi symbol. In June 2021, Jewish Instagram influencer and fashion designer Sabrina Zohar noticed this symbol while using the filter and publicly called for its removal. The filter has since been removed due to a number of people reporting the issue, even though Instagram reviews filters for hateful and discriminatory content before approving them for public use. McClintock also mentioned multiple antisemitic tweets sent from business and political leaders in the past two years, including this one from Dr. Karlyn Borysenko, a PragerU presenter:
While anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments have been an issue ever since Genesis, the statistics regarding the increase of antisemitism since 2020 are startling in areas all over the world.
One study done by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in 2021 found that from 4 million French or German-speaking accounts alone, over 180,000 posts were flagged from containing antisemitic language. In 2021, a survey done by the American Jewish Committee found that approximately 1 in 4 American Jews had been the target of antisemitism in the past year.
So why the sudden increase during the past two years? Throughout history, Jewish people have been the target of harmful and false conspiracy theories, most notably during World War II era Germany when Adolf Hitler blamed the Jewish population for all of society’s ills to justify his genocide of over 6 million of them. During the Black Death in medieval Europe, Europeans accused Jewish people of making everyone sick by poisoning the well water and killed them in droves. In general, antisemitic conspiracy theories all have the same core belief that Jewish people are a greedy, elite, evil group that controls all of society. The scapegoating of the Jewish people in the midst of crises is not new; today’s conspiracy theories blame the Jewish people for the coronavirus pandemic and view the vaccine mandates as a means for them to sterilize the non-Jewish population.
Unfortunately, news coverage of the recent rise in antisemitism has been lacking. In other mass incidents of antisemitism throughout history, the public either did not know or did not care about the issue until it was too late. Part of this is due to the normalization of scapegoating the Jewish population during times of national and international crises. Advocate for the Jewish people and acknowledge the dangers and discrimination they have faced throughout history and continue to face. Raise awareness, report and counter antisemitic activity whether online or in real life, and fight for increased education on Jewish history.