The centuries-old stereotype that Jews spread diseases was reactivated during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Predrag Kon is head of the Health-crisis Team of the Republic of Serbia in charge of efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemics. Dr. Predrag Kon is Jewish. In November 2020, a graffiti “Dr. Kon on a stake!” with the crossed-out Star of David appeared in Novi Sad. The abbreviation “Dr” was in quotation marks to indicate sarcasm, alluding that Dr. Kon is not a “real doctor.”
In a separate incident, antisemitic posters appeared on the streets of Belgrade, claiming that the pandemic was just a cover for establishing a “global Jewish government.”
Since the Middle Ages, Jews have been accused of tainting sacred objects or communal property. European Christians have repeatedly accused Jews of poisoning communal wells during medieval and early modern times. During the Black Death epidemic in the late Middle Ages, Jews were accused of poisoning wells to spread the plague. This myth led to massacres and persecution of Jews across Europe. Jews were banned from German swimming pools and quarantined during cholera and typhus epidemics of 1892. In Nazi Germany, Jewishness was often compared to cancer.
The global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 was accompanied by conspiracy theories, disinformation, and hate speech, often targeting already marginalized groups. As many times in history, Jewish communities have been accused of spreading or inventing the virus or even orchestrating the whole pandemic to create a new social and economic order.
Conspiracy theories that accuse Jews of creating, spreading, falsifying, or lying about the “true nature of the Covid-19 virus” or even planning and managing the whole pandemic are based on centuries-old stereotypes, myths, and lies about Jews. These conspiracy theories are just a step further in perpetuating antisemitic myths about “Jewish power” and “world domination.”
Such conspiracy theories cause concern, fear, and anxiety among Jewish individuals, families, and the entire Jewish community. As a result, many might feel reluctant to disclose or express their Jewish identity, tradition, or culture out of fear of being bullied or exposed to violence.
Scapegoating is blaming someone else for one’s problems, often resulting in added prejudices toward the persons or groups that one is accusing. It jeopardizes the safety and security of marginalized communities, in this case the Jewish community, and their human and civil rights, ultimately weakening the state of democracy of the entire society.
https://bit.ly/3hMx65f (“Dr. Kon on a stake – Shameful graffiti removed in Novi Sad, urgent reaction of the authorities,” published on November 11, 2020 in the newspaper “Telegraf.”)