The narrative that “Nothing fuels modern antisemitism more than the state of Israel. If the latter were to change its policy, antisemitism in its many contemporary facets would also decrease or even vanish” is a perfidious perpetrator-victim reversal. Suddenly, anti-Semites are no longer to blame for antisemitism, but the Jews − or the Jewish state of Israel. The non-Jewish world only reacts, so to speak, whether it is Palestinian terrorists who are allegedly waging a “fight for freedom” against the “Zionist oppressors” or their supporters in Europe and elsewhere who do not want to be denied their “criticism of Israel”, no matter how antisemitic they may be. Adorno called this ‘projection’ − the victim is accused of what one is doing or intending to do.
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.”
“Jews are members of a secret global elite that aims at achieving world domination”
Two common contemporary conspiracy theories serve this stereotype: 1) ZOG/ Zionist Occupied Government is an antisemitic political catchphrase of the extreme right that denotes a government that is supposedly ruled by Jews. The term takes up the old conspiracy ideology of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” that wealthy Jews would conspire to establish a world government.
A flyer that was distributed in a tram in Cologne asked the rhetorical questions “Do we really only have a Corona problem? Or don’t we actually have predominantly a Jew-problem?” while listing Angela Merkel as a Jewess of Polish origin connected to B’nai B’rith, Jens Spahn as “gay Jew” connected to the Bilderberg conference, Heiko Maas as a Jew and leading censor and Christian Drosten as pro-government virologist and Jew “according to his phenotype”. It closes with the words that “the more Jews in politics and media, the worse the conditions”.
The infamous antisemitic fabrication The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a text claiming to have exposed a Jewish plan for global domination, first appeared in print in Russia in 1903. It was translated into Greek in 1920, but it remained “unexploited” in the archive of the Greek Foreign Ministry. The Protocols started gaining publicity in 1925, thanks to the work of Dr. Andronikos, an Athenian pseudointellectual, whose medical authority and adherence to nationalism, fascism and anticommunism made him an ideal propagandist of the Protocols through the press. In early 1928 the dailies To Fos and Makedonia in Thessaloniki − the city where more than 50,000 out of 70,000 Greek Jews dwelled − published a Greek translation of the Protocols. Thereafter, the antisemitic focus of Makedonia intensified. In June 1931, members of the fascist organization “Ethniki Enosis Ellas” (“EEE”, National Union Hellas), acting upon allegations of anti-national behavior of local Jews published in Makedonia, launched a pogrom against the poor Jewish neighborhood of Campbell.
The Internet and social networks have promoted the spread and radicalization of antisemitism − across the board, all facets of antisemitism can be found.
As soon as “the Jews” are assigned the role of the guilty ones by many mutually reinforcing digital users − be it with regard to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the 2007 financial and economic crisis, global warming, or the 2015 arrival of refugees − this can have fatal consequences. The apppeal of antisemitic worldviews increases especially in times of crisis, when collective fears and feelings of powerlessness (re)activate the need for simple explanatory models and scapegoats.
With the help of pseudo-scientific expert opinions, the feasibility of mass murder in Nazi concentration camps is doubted. Holocaust deniers argue, for example, that no residues of poison gas were found in the gas chambers or that the crematoria in Auschwitz were far too small for mass cremation of corpses. Holocaust deniers like David Irving argue that there is no proof for gas chambers in Auschwitz.
The Turkish Islamist Necmettin Erbakan (1926 – 2011) claims that the Jews (in his words, “Zionists”) started creating a world order more than 5,000 years ago with the help of the Kabbalah to control all money and labor. The Jews organized the crusades, and because the Catholic church was against money lending, the Jews created Protestantism so as to be able to make everybody work for them by introducing capitalism. That’s how the Jews control the world, apart from Islam, and that’s the fight between good and evil, the struggle between them and Islam.
In November 2020, a message reading “The Jew pulls all the strings” was found stuck on the sidewalk near the Novi Sad Synagogue. One of the oldest anti-Jewish myths and stereotypes is the one about “Jewish power” and the “global Jewish conspiracy”. In its contemporary form, this myth represents Jews as a powerful, secret, global group, often referred to as a “Jewish lobby”, that manipulates governments, banks, financial institutions, academia, the media, film and entertainment industry, and other national and international institutions, for malicious purposes of Jewish world domination and control. This anti-Jewish myth has been present as one of the most prominent antisemitic narratives in various forms from the New Testament, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to anti-globalism and various contemporary conspiracy theories.
Since the 12th century, religious myths (Jews as deicides) have been complemented with economic stereotypes. Jews were described as rich and rampant as well as “money-lenders”, “bargainers” and “usurers” – a view still commonplace today. Excluded from land ownership, agriculture, and the Christian merchants’ and handicrafts guilds, Jews were increasingly limited to the small trade, peddler and junk trade. The money trading with interest played a special role, which according to church dogmatics violated divine doctrine and remained forbidden to Christians.