Israel sees Holocaust tropes in COVID protests fuelling anti-Semitism
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[January 27, 2022]
By Dan Williams
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Protesters against
COVID-19 measures who liken themselves to Jews under Nazi persecution
are stoking global anti-Semitism, the Israeli government said in a
report marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Such Holocaust tropes have become "widespread" and, along with violent
demonstrations linked to Israel's May war in Gaza, were main factors
behind physical or online attacks on Jews in Europe and North America
last year, said the 152-page report by the Diaspora Affairs Ministry.
Several U.S. and British politicians nL1N2U51L1 have in recent months
apologised after suggesting vaccine or lockdown policies recalled
Some demonstrators against pandemic curbs have worn yellow stars like
those the Nazis forced on European Jews.
Such displays showed factual knowledge of the genocide was eroding, the
report said, adding that some COVID-19 agitators have been "consuming
and disseminating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that Jews are
responsible for the crisis and are using it for oppression, global
domination, economic gain, etc".
Expanding on the findings, Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai said
Holocaust distortion or trivialisation is itself anti-Semitic and can
sometimes lead to actual endangerment of Jews.
"There are people so fraught with hate who can, when faced with such
imagery, be tipped over into action," he told Reuters.
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Protesters attend a left wing May Day demonstration, as the spread
of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Leipzig, Germany,
May 1, 2021. The placard reads "Nazis out!". REUTERS/Matthias
The Combat Antisemitism Movement
(CAM), a U.S.-based non-profit, said that in 2020 and 2021 it had
found 63.7 million engagements - participation, sharing or "liking"
- during online discussions linking the pandemic to the Holocaust.
Yad Vashem, Israel's main Holocaust memorial, has urged world
leaders to come out against such discourse - a call apparently
heeded by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who on Monday
said the yellow star protests were "reprehensible".
"COVID brought Holocaust trivialisation to a summit," said Yad
Vashem chairman Dani Dayan. "Things like that, sometimes done by
politicians, by public figures, are despicable and Yad Vashem is
very clear in demanding those persons retract."
Former Israeli Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, whose parents and
brother were among the six million Jews killed by the Nazis and who
himself survived a concentration camp as a child, had a more
personal appeal during a Reuters interview.
"Please leave the word 'Holocaust' for the Holocaust - and nothing
but it," he said.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
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