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Israel predicts rise in anti-Semitism after pandemic used to spread online hate

An anti-Semitic cartoon published on Telegram on March 15, 2020, likening Jews to the coronavirus using the image of the Trojan horse. (Diaspora Affairs Ministry monitoring team via ADL/courtesy)
An anti-Semitic cartoon published on Telegram on March 15, 2020, likening Jews to the coronavirus using the image of the Trojan horse. (Diaspora Affairs Ministry monitoring team via ADL/courtesy)

Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry predicts a steep rise in anti-Semitic incidents around the world in 2021, warning in an annual report that the coronavirus pandemic has been used — by Iran, among others — to spread conspiracy theories saying Jews caused the outbreak to profit financially from the chaos it has caused.

The report says that while the worldwide lockdowns led to a sharp decline in anti-Semitic attacks in 2020 and to zero deaths in such incidents for the first time in years, they also laid the ground for a rise in prejudice against Jews after the pandemic is over.

It says online anti-Semitism is up by a big margin, particularly by using the #COVID48 hashtag which compares Israel to the virus, echoing past depictions of Jews as viruses seeking to take over the world. It says the hashtag, used at least 250,000 times, appears to be an Iranian campaign.

The report says 80% of American Jews believe anti-Semitism has increased over the past few years. It also highlights a growing phenomenon of anti-Semitic views among German police officers and security forces.

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