(Washington, D.C., March 18, 2020)--The coronavirus is being used as an excuse by some to spread anti-Semitism around the world. B’nai B’rith Deputy Director of the International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy Eric Fusfield joined the B’nai B’rith International Podcast for a discussion on coronavirus and anti-Semitism in this uncertain time. In a conversation hosted by CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, Fusfield delved into the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories surrounding coronavirus.
These conspiracies blame Jews and Israel for creating and spreading coronavirus. Mariaschin and Fusfield consider the theories to be a new form of blood libel that is part of a long historical chain. Blood libel conspiracies have been part of Jewish history in medieval Europe, 19th century Damascus, 20th century tsarist Russia and many other places.
“This is an illustration of how resilient and how adaptable anti-Semitism is. Anti-Semitism is a virus of its own. It’s a social virus, and it’s an aggressive one, and it’s a portable one,” Fusfield said. “It has shifted almost seamlessly into the Islamic world today - parts of the Islamic world - and other areas of the modern world. In the case of Iran, the groundwork has already been laid. Iran, for a while, has been mainstreaming the blood libel as an accepted idea in that country.”
However, the flow of disinformation surrounding coronavirus, as well as anti-Semitism more generally, are not just from hostile governments like Iran’s theocratic regime. Actress Rosanna Arquette, in a since-deleted tweet, asserted that the Israeli government knew about coronavirus in advance and was seeking to profit by developing a vaccine first.
Fusfield argues that anti-Semitism from public figures must be confronted head-on: “Whether it’s musicians, or Hollywood stars, or public officials, you need to call them out.”
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B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org.