Jews have been at the receiving end of false accusations that they might conspire together secretly to act malevolently against non-Jews, very long before modern conspiracy theories arose. Possibly the oldest of these accusations is deicide, as in ‘The Jews killed Jesus/God’, which has been around for 2000 years. We cover this further in our section on Christian antisemitism. Another old Christian conspiracy theory, this one conceived in medieval England, is the Blood Libel. This is the idea that Jews baked their Passover matzo (bread) using the blood of Christian Children. Both of these have led directly to the death of countless Jews over the years.
In modern times, conspiracy theories abound, and generally involve a belief that a group of Jews control or are plotting to control the world, or at any rate bear responsibility for major catastrophes and disasters. This notion started at least as far back as 1806, when a forged letter was used by an émigré from the French Revolution, Barruel, to suggest that Jews were involved in a Masonic conspiracy to overthrow the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds banking family seem to have started in 1846 with the false allegation that Nathan de Rothschild profited unfairly from the Battle of Waterloo, and have proliferated in the twentieth century. But the myth of an international Jewish conspiracy developed most strongly in later 19th century Europe in places such as Germany and Poland. Russians picked up on this idea and ran with it in the form of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a forged work published in 1902 which claims to be the minutes of a group of Jews who are planning world dominance. It is the foundational text of all modern antisemitic conspiracy theories which purport to reveal a Jewish conspiracy behind world events and governments, and it was highly influential on the worldview of Hitler and the Nazis, as well as on various regimes in the Middle East where it is still widely circulated. This work is still very popular on social media and has also fed into New World Order conspiracies, Illuminati and other related ideas. In this way it is not an exaggeration to say that all global control conspiracies eventually come down to, at least in part, ‘blaming the Jews’.
Where there is actual power in the world, the Jews are frequently accused of having disproportionate influence and control. We have mentioned (see our section on Classic Stereotypes) the paradox that left-wing antisemites can hold Jews responsible for the worst aspects of capitalism (modern slavery etc); whereas right-wing antisemites have held Jews responsible for inventing communism and perpetrating the worst violence associated with it. More modern conspiracies use ‘Israel’ or ‘Zionists/ism’ as a switch for ‘Jews’, a concept we cover in our section on Jews, Israel and Zionism. Thus, Israel is said to control the USA, UK and other Western countries, and is seen as causing or intervening in all middle-East wars, for example infiltrating in Syria with the White Helmets. Israel/Mossad/Jews have also been blamed for causing the 9/11 attack.
Conspiracy theories are frequently internally contradictory – for example, in the present day, people who believe that coronavirus does not exist protest alongside those who see it as a Chinese or Jewish plot to control the world. Although this can give rise to wry humour, it is also very serious, because any object of prejudice – and in particular Jews – can be and have been pulled into every conspiracy theory. Jews have always been used to personify the mysterious ‘they’ who are responsible for all the ills of the world, as a substitution for a rational analysis of class and other factors which in reality structure our world.
We now list some antisemitic beliefs about Jewish control of the media, democracy, banking system, dual loyalty etc. They are often components of the full-blown conspiracy theories, some of which which we then go on to describe. We do not pretend this is a comprehensive list and it may not remain up to date, as conspiracy theory, like a virus, is in a state of constant mutation and recombination.
Components of antisemitic conspiracy theory:
Example 32: Using ‘code-words’ to talk about the Jews: Rothschilds, Illuminati, and George Soros:
This is extremely common both on the ultra-right and on the conspiracist left. Many anti-Semites believe, probably correctly, that they will gain greater acceptance and popularity if they avoid directly using the words ‘Jew(s)’ or ‘Jewish’. As we said above, often the words ‘Zionist(s)’ or ‘Israel(i)’ are substituted, but other code-words are ‘Rothschilds’, ‘Illuminati’, and ‘George Soros’ . Sometimes Jews are alluded to solely as ‘them’, ‘shadowy forces’ ‘global elites’ and the like. Conspiracy theories invoking the Rothschilds are becoming increasingly discredited, but they are still invoked. George Soros is increasingly referred to instead, as a modern-day very wealthy and influential Jew. He funds the Open Society Foundation which is dedicated to strengthening democracy and other progressive causes and backs the Democrats in the US. However, in conspiracy theory, he is often described as controlling things that he does not, and in addition, his biography is traduced. For example, a non-Jewish Hungarian family helped him pose as a non-Jewish child to save him from the Nazis, but he has been accused of being a Nazi collaborator.
Conspiracy theories involving The Illuminati (an alleged secret group of people, all or almost all Jewish, who are supposed to be in control of almost everything) have been around a long time, and are beloved of David Icke (see below). There was a real group, the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded in 1776 in Bavaria, whose aims were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power, but they were suppressed in the 1780s. In the mid-20th century, however, the name was resuscitated by Fascist propaganda claiming that the Illuminati was a subversive secret society drawn from the Jewish elites that supposedly propped up both finance capitalism and Soviet communism in order to divide and rule the world. In the US fundamentalist Christians initially disseminated this theory which was picked up by right-wing populists. The full-blown theory states that humanity has been colonized by the Illuminati, a satanic cult representing Masonic and Jewish bankers who aim to protect their vast financial monopoly by creating a totalitarian world government dedicated to Lucifer, while distracting and controlling the population by infiltration of governments, intelligence agencies, education and the mass media, undermining institutions like marriage and religion, and promoting depravity, dysfunction, corruption and division. Having orchestrated two world wars, they are planning a third.
These code words are routinely used by established antisemites to attack Jews as a whole by alleging that Jews are in control of large parts of world society, and where they are used, antisemitism can be strongly suspected. Other expressions such as ‘globalists’ or ‘global elite’ are sometimes used in the same sense; however these words are also often used in a far more innocent way, and the context has to be inspected for antisemitic intent. When ‘global elite’ is used in the sense of a secret cabal as a substitute for class analysis, to us and many others this does and indeed should ring alarm bells.
The mural below by Mear One became famous when it emerged that Jeremy Corbyn had apparently defended it on the grounds of free speech while failing to recognise that it was antisemitic. It portrayed a cabal of bankers, many of them with stereotypically Jewish features, oppressing huddled masses, in combination with an Illuminati symbol.
Example 33: ‘Jews control the media’:
This is increasingly common and bears absolutely no relation to reality. This article refutes the suggestion that the US media is controlled by Jews https://www.huffpost.com/entry/do-jews-control-the-media_b_753227. None of the traditional press baron families in the UK is Jewish, nor do these families have origins in Israel. This largely applies to major broadcast media also. Such is the enthusiasm for trying to demonstrate that the media is Jewish-owned that it is far from uncommon for antisemites to claim that Rupert Murdoch is Jewish (he isn’t). It is yet another example of antisemites whipping up resentment against Jews in completely mendacious ways. It is rather ironic that some of the people who allege that the media is Jewish-controlled (sometimes rendered as ‘Zionist-controlled’) will then go on to point out that the Daily Mail, currently the UK newspaper with the highest circulation, gave support to Adolf Hitler before World War II. In the example below, it was claimed by Yvonne Ridley, a Respect candidate, that ‘Zionists’ control the BBC.
Incidentally, the image of an octopus with long poisonous tentacles has long been associated with antisemitism, and is now particularly common in Middle Eastern antisemitism. However, it has also been used as a metaphor for the spreading of radical Islamic terrorism throughout the world, though with more justification in fact.
This example of a ‘Jewish octopus’ controlling nations is from a German satirical magazine, Lustige Blätter which ended publication in 1944. https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com/2019/04/29/george-soros-targeted-by-anti-semitic-meme-that-predates-the-nazis/
In the following video a caller to a BBC London call-in show claims the media is dominated by the Jewish financial system and the Rothschilds. He touches on many other antisemitic tropes in the process. https://youtu.be/dpKpy-DFB_I
Here is a transcript of some of the remarks made by the caller in the video above:
Example 34: ‘Jews conspire to subvert democracy’:
In the following examples, ‘Israel’s hand’ is accused of undermining the former leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. In recent years it has very often been the contention that Israel – and British ‘Zionists’ working on Israel’s behalf – have acted along with the Tories, Jewish MPs and the right of the Labour party to undermine Corbyn because of his support for the Palestinians, by inventing or exaggerating instances of antisemitism within the Labour Party. Here are some of many examples:
The meme below was very popular in left wing circles. It’s a complete distortion of the truth. For example, many MPs receive free subsidised trips to foreign countries, but Israel has been singled out, as so often. On this list is Trevor Chinn, a philanthropist from the British Jewish community, who has donated to a number of progressive causes and to political figures in the UK and elsewhere. He is a major donor to a left-wing Israeli NGO, the New Israel fund, which shares almost nothing of the ideology of the present Netanyahu government and works towards fundamental change in Israel; the Israeli government has in fact tried to ban it, for being ‘anti-Israeli’.
In the following example, Asa Winstanley portrays Jon Lansman (a Jew, and founder of Momentum) as connected with a Zionist conspiracy to undermine the left of the Labour Party. Winstanley, who is described here as an investigative journalist, is better described as a blogger, and is responsible for the online publication Electronic Intifada; he was first suspended from and then resigned from the Labour Party. Although both men would be regarded as supportive of Jeremy Corbyn, Lansman’s background (he spent time on an Israeli kibbutz, and his father was once a Conservative Councillor), and his periodic speaking out against elements of left antisemitism have at times made him a target for some figures on the conspiracist left such as Winstanley.
Jon Lansman is probably still the best-known Jewish figure on the present-day Labour left, and those who are suspicious of Jews, and some particularly militant anti-Zionists have given him quite substantial amounts of abuse. Lansman does not identify as a Zionist, and there is an argument that to describe a Jew as a Zionist knowing that they do not identify as such is an enhanced instance of antisemitism. We include here our own commentary exposing Winstanley, taken from a post on the Socialists Against Antisemitism Facebook page.
In the following example, allegations of subversion of British democracy have been extended to the Conservative Party, via, inter alia, Conservative Friends of Israel: Griff O-Malley concludes that the whole of the UK is ‘Zionist controlled’.
Example 35: ‘Jews control the whole banking and financial system’:
This is possibly one of the commonest current forms of antisemitism, popularised by the Nazis in their propaganda. Jews in past centuries were forbidden to own land or enter certain professions, while Christians were sometimes forbidden to practise moneylending (‘usury’). Some Jews therefore became bankers, and some, such as the Rothschilds, did particularly well, eventually becoming probably the wealthiest of all Jewish families. As such they became symbolic targets for antisemites, including the Nazis, who directed an entire ‘historical’ film about them in the early 1940s. Nowadays the Rothschilds, while still a very wealthy family by most standards, are much further down the wealth list, and yet the myth persists that they control the whole banking and financial system (including the City of London and, amazingly, the Bank of England or the Federal Reserve – even fully nationalised central banks are, in this conspiracy theory, said to be controlled by the Rothschilds). The first memes shown below illustrate these antisemitic myths of total Rothschild (read ‘Jewish’) financial control.
As a corollary, of course, antisemites claim that the Rothschilds wield massive political power, as illustrated in the further memes below. It is sometimes stated that Zionism, as an ideology, and the actual state of Israel were founded by them; while some of the extended Rothschild family do have business interests in Israel today, the charge is of course entirely false. By extension, if Rothschilds created Israel they could have also created Isis (another antisemitic myth) and very likely the entire ‘New World Order’ – despite the best efforts of President Trump and ‘anti-globalist protests’. But of course (final meme) antisemites claim that singling out one Jewish family is not antisemitic. In fact it is very rare to come across a social media meme featuring a member of the Rothschild family which is not deeply antisemitic in its intent.
Example 36: Overestimating the power of the Jewish-majority state, Israel:
We discussed the ‘Israel lobby’ in Example 30 in the ‘Jews, Israel and Zionism’ section, with particular reference to Britain and the Labour Party. Here we examine antisemitic allegations of broader ‘world control’ by Israel.
It is extremely common to see accusations that the State of Israel (and/or diaspora ‘Zionists’ or the ‘Israel lobby’) are actually controlling some of the major world powers, such as the USA, the UK and France. Where this accusation concerns ‘Zionists’ ( code-word for ‘Jews’), conspiracists will sometimes justify it by picking out wealthier and more influential members of the Jewish community (e.g. Janet Yellen and previous directors of the Federal Reserve, George Soros etc.).
In fact, Israel is dependent on patronage and support from major world powers, not the other way round, and does not have remotely the resources necessary to accomplish such a feat. Although Israel is an important regional power, and has powerful armed forces as well as efficient intelligence services, it is in no sense a world superpower comparable to the USA or China; its armed forces are fully stretched in Israel and in the territories it occupies, and it neither can nor does intervene in conflicts further afield in the way the armies of these major powers (including also the UK, France and Russia) can and often do. Israel does indeed enjoy friendly relations with many foreign governments, but the insinuation that it can in some way dictate those governments’ policies is absurd and without foundation. In its milder form, the power of the ‘Israel lobby’ in influencing foreign countries to the benefit of Israel is exaggerated, as in the cartoon below.
Incidentally, Jews (or in this case the Israel lobby) portrayed as ‘puppet-masters’ – often ‘pulling the strings’ of a puppet – is another common antisemitic trope.
We offer the article below as an example, at first reading very persuasive, of the narrative that the Israel lobby is extremely powerful, specifically as influencing US expenditure and Middle Eastern policy. It is important to read down to the criticisms which follow the article to understand that there are alternative views of the extent of influence of Israel and its lobby which take account of more of the facts.
Example 37: ‘False flag’ narratives:
A ‘false flag’ incident is an act committed with the intent of disguising the actual source of responsibility and pinning blame on a second party: for example, setting up a terrorist incident which can be blamed on the opposition, be it a different group or country operating under a different ‘flag’ – or inventing an incident which did not actually occur, for the same reason. ‘False flag narratives’ – accusations that incidents are ‘false flag’ – have become common on social media. For example, it has been proposed that MP Jo Cox was not murdered by an alt-right racist, but by pro-EU forces aimed at portraying the British right as unhinged and dangerous.
False flag narratives are an attempt to eliminate stories which are likely to discredit your own point of view. If an antisemite suggests that an antisemitic incident did not occur, or was staged by an agent provocateur, someone paid by Mossad etc., then they spread the view that antisemitism is not a real problem. Such false flag narratives are completely without foundation; they are lies, and often elaborate ones.
In the first example below, of course, two Palestinians were eventually convicted for the car bomb which exploded outside the London Israeli Embassy in 1994, injuring 20 people. In the second example Israel is blamed for causing 9/11 as a false flag incident, in order to get the US to ‘go after Iraq’.
Examples of Conspiracy Theories
Example 38: Protocols of Zion and David Icke:
To summarise information given in the Introduction to this section, the infamous 1902 forgery, the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion purports to reveal a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world, and variants of this conspiracy theory are very much alive today. It is complete fiction. Fear and hatred of Jews lie behind such attempts to persuade people that such a conspiracy exists. The Protocols is still disseminated today, and is from time to time referred to by certain demagogic political figures in some middle-Eastern countries such as Iran, despite the fact that it was proven conclusively to be a forgery many decades ago. It also forms part of David Icke’s conspiracy theory.
David Icke has been a professional footballer, a sports reporter, and for a time one of the Green Party’s chief spokespeople. He then became involved in conspiracist political activity. His overarching conspiracy theory states that an interdimensional race of reptilian beings has hijacked the earth and are manipulating global events to keep humans in constant fear, and eventually to cause World War III. Although not all the powerful reptilian beings he identifies are Jewish, many are, including the Rothschilds; he believes the Protocols was not a forgery, and regularly regurgitates Nazi and pre-Nazi antisemitic propaganda, including that Jews financed Hitler, while his website advertises Holocaust denial material. Indeed, his books and talks have endorsed many of the antisemitic ideas we describe.
He speaks to packed audiences in many locations and has a worryingly large following. Icke also has close links with Richie Allen who presents a TV show which promotes some of the conspiracy theories with which Icke is associated, and in which some members of mainstream political parties have occasionally appeared. Most latterly Icke has become involved with Covid conspiracy theory (see below). In our experience, it is common for left-wing people to post antisemitic material alongside endorsements of David Icke’s theories. Here, Kim Cousins, a left-wing ‘activist’, is recommending his works.
The theory below seems gobbledgook, but note ‘Dragon is on earth and served by the Illumnati [sic], the British houses, the Kazzar [sic] Jew houses’ (see ‘The Khazar myth’ in the Erasure section for explanation of this):
Example 39: ‘Nation of Islam’ conspiracy theory:
The Nation of Islam (NOI) is a US-based African-American political and religious movement founded in 1930 by Wallace Fard Muhammed, and now under the leadership of Louis Farrakhan. Politically, it tends towards not just black pride but black separatism. Religious beliefs are based on Islam, but its particular theology states that black people are the original people, and white people were created from them by a scientist, Yacub, through eugenics. White people then caused trouble in the Middle East and were expelled into Europe. This later evolved into a belief that Israel originally belonged to black (and Palestinian) people, and links into the political idea that Israel was created by white Zionist colonialism. (We have dealt with related misconceptions about Jewish ethnicity in the Erasure section).
Nation of Islam has published three volumes of The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews. The first, in 1991, asserts that Jews dominated the Atlantic slave trade (a thesis which has been debunked generally by historians); the second volume makes conspiratorial assertions about Jews controlling the US economy and promoting ideas of black racial inferiority, and the third volume states that Jewish businessmen masterminded the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan. Other antisemitic ideas propagated by Farrakhan or by other NOI preachers include that Jews are the ‘synagogue of Satan’ and have their ‘tentacles’ around the US Government; that rich Jews financed Hitler and betrayed poor Jews; that Jews deserved to be targeted by the Nazis because they usurped the Germans; holocaust revisionism; that diaspora Jews hold dual loyalty to Israel; and that Jewish doctors inject Blacks with the Aids virus.
In this first example, Jackie Walker, who is of Black and Jewish heritage, was suspended from the Labour Party for actions including a Facebook conversation where she stated, in a discussion about the Holocaust, that ‘many Jews, my ancestors too, were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade’.
Second example: grime artist Wiley issued a string of tweets where he generalised his anger with his Jewish manager to statements that Jews control the music industry, put down black people and are linked to the KKK; and that (regarding Israel) ‘Israel is ours’. He was widely condemned and as a result was banned from Facebook, Instagram and, eventually Twitter.
Third example is rapper Ice Cube, who referenced Nation of Islam beliefs when he tweeted a picture of ‘Hebrew Israelite slaves in Ancient Egypt – Clearly they are a black people’.
It is very regrettable that the history of Jews standing alongside black people in the US civil rights movement or in anti-apartheid struggles is being erased. Jewish people are not, of course, devoid of anti-black racism, but nor are they particularly implicated in it.
It’s also important to note that being black does not preclude you from being Jewish. There are large numbers of Jewish black people and Jewish POC all over the Jewish world. Much of the Jewish community around the world and more than 50% in Israel are Jews of colour (being from the Middle East and North Africa). There are Jewish tribes from Africa (notably Ethiopia) and India. Judaism is not white.
Nadine Batchelor-Hunt, who is black and Jewish, is one writer to follow.
We also recommend reading Tribe Herald a platform by and for Jews of Colour and their allies.
Example 40: Conspiracy theories featuring Israel:
For dedicated antisemites, it is important to associate Jews as strongly as possible with the most undesirable and hated world phenomena. This has, as we pointed out in the introductory section, a long history, was amplified with ghastly consequences by the Nazis, and still carries on today.
In contemporary world affairs, where the majority-Jewish state of Israel exists, many antisemites have found it most convenient to claim that Israel is responsible for disasters, as we mentioned earlier. Israel has been blamed for the 9/11 atrocity, starting with rumours circulating on the internet that Jews employed in the Twin Towers were warned not to come into work that day (despite the fact that Jews died in 9/11). Another example is the bizarre claim that Israel (sometimes along with ‘The West’) somehow created or has sponsored the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), with the aim of destabilising and Balkanising the Middle East – ‘evidence’ includes stating that ISIS has never killed any Jews (which is untrue), and pointing out that ISIS has never attacked Israel – of course this was because ISIS did not have the necessary military capacity, not because they did not want to. Israel is also supposed to have intervened in other Middle Eastern conflicts, for example by funding Islamic terrorist attacks in Egypt, or by infiltrating the White Helmets in Syria, who are said to have lied about the source of chemical attacks.
Antisemitic conspiracy theory is ultimately about blaming the Jews for as many of world society’s ills as possible, and this is a contemporary example which fits this bill exactly.
Note that it is not unusual for these conspiracy theories to be shared by left-wing people who claim to be anti-Zionist but not antisemitic, see the first examples below. We beg to differ with them on this.
Example 41: Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory and White Genocide/Replacement theory:
We feature here two right-wing conspiracies with strong antisemitic components.
The Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory seems to have originated in far-right circles in the USA in the 1990s. Its very name suggests an attack on the left, and indeed this conspiracy theory is the preserve of the hard right of the British Conservative Party and parties further to its right, including those with a fascist or neo-Nazi ideology.
Although the theory specifically emerged in the US in the 1990s, it appears to be a direct descendant of the Nazi conspiracy theory ‘Kulturbolschewismus’, which blamed Communists (‘Bolsheviks’) for plotting to foist modernist and progressive principles on the arts, and thereby to cause social degeneration and loss of traditional values. At the same time, Bolshevism was seen in Nazi Germany as Jewish-inspired and led by Jews seeking world domination, so ‘Kulturbolschewismus’ was intrinsically antisemitic.
The modern conspiracy theory claims that there is an elite of Marxist theorists and Frankfurt School intellectuals (predominantly of Jewish origin, it is said, and indeed a number e.g. Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse and Fromm were Jewish) who are said to be subverting Western society with a culture war that undermines traditional values of conservatism and promotes the liberal values of the 1960s counterculture and multiculturalism. There is of course no such organised group or conspiracy to ‘undermine’ society. The theory entered mainstream discourse in the 2010s, is promoted by right-wing politicians, fundamentalist religious leaders and white supremacists, and has prompted terrorist attacks. For example, Anders Breivik justified his 2011 murder of 77 young Norwegian socialists as a fight against ‘cultural Marxism’.
In recent times, ‘cultural Marxism’ seems to be making inroads into the language of traditionalist Tories in place of previous favourites such as ‘political correctness (gone mad)’. However, while the users of the term frequently are non-fascists from the respectable Conservative right, the origins of the term are clear; it has come from the Nazis’ playbook via the US far-right scene. While several anti-racist groups, including those which campaign against antisemitism, have made the phrase’s Nazi and far-right origins clear to the non-fascist right, it is still gaining currency as we write this in December 2020. It is an example of a phrase which needs to be avoided because of its antisemitic implications even if its users in many cases do not have actual antisemitic intent.
In the example below, for example Sir John Hayes MP refers to ‘cultural Marxist dogma’ and to ‘a clique of powerful, privileged liberals’ in his November 2020 letter to The Telegraph objecting to various heritage bodies offering reinterpretations of history in the light of Black Lives Matter. (Perhaps it is not necessary to state that the authors of this Gallery strongly disagree with these sentiments even without the cultural Marxism reference.) https://www.edwardleigh.org.uk/news/letter-telegraph
However, when (below) Nigel Farage refers to ‘cultural Marxism’ in the same video as he accuses his opponents of being funded by Soros, we have no doubts about calling out his antisemitism.
White genocide conspiracy theory is perhaps more clearly antisemitic in form, and is likewise a descendent of similar theories in Nazi Germany. It was popularised by neo-Nazi David Lane around 1995, and has spread in Western far-right and white supremacist movements. Broadly speaking, white genocide conspiracy states there is a deliberate plot to promote non-white immigration, interracial marriage, and violence to cause the extinction of whites through forced assimilation or violent genocide. This deliberate plot is often, though not always, blamed on Jews. For example, the Aryan Nations’ 1996 Declaration of Independence stated that the ‘Zionist Occupation Government’ (ZOG) sought the eradication of white race and culture, and among other crimes, worked to loosen restrictions on immigration and drug trafficking, denying Aryan cultural heritage, and inciting immigrant insurrections. However, Renaud Camus’s 2011 ‘Great Replacement Theory’ aimed at Muslims in France, and blaming this on ‘global and liberal elites’ is not specifically antisemitic, though of course very dangerous to Muslims. In March 2019 the mass shooter who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, called the online manifesto he prepared for the occasion ‘The Great Replacement’.
White genocide/replacement conspiracy theory inspired the Poway, California synagogue shooting in 2019. A letter posted by the suspect on 4chan stated that Jews were preparing a “meticulously planned genocide of the European race”. In the UK, such ideas have spread on the right in milder form e.g. Douglas Murray’s 2017 book The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam raises the spectre of loss of traditional values through Muslim immigration, though does not posit any conspiracy, but such Islamophobia creates the conditions for conspiracist views to enter from the far right.
We recommend the Hope Not Hate website for up-to-date news about the every-mutating modes of racist activity, especially on the far-right and in the UK. One variant of white genocide theory which has gained popularity is the ‘Kalergi plan’ https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/2019/04/18/exposed-for-britain-and-white-genocide-conspiracy-theory/
Example 42: The QAnon conspiracy theory:
No section about contemporary antisemitic conspiracy theory, sadly, can be regarded as complete without including the QAnon theory, which began to emerge in the summer of 2020. QAnon is the name normally given to the conspiracy theory that top U.S. military officials recruited Donald Trump to run for president to expose and vanquish the ‘deep state’. The ‘deep state’ is supposed to be to a cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles who operate a child sex-trafficking ring, which ultimately kills and eats the children they abuse to extract a life-extending chemical found in youthful blood. This is in essence an updating of much older antisemitic conspiracy theories about powerful Jewish cabals, and it also links with the mediaeval blood libel canard; although it also takes in other baseless prejudices including some of the most lurid allegations against LGBTQ people. The cabal itself is said to contain a number of celebrities in different fields, including George Soros. As all the conspiracy theories we discuss, it is entirely fictitious, containing not even a grain of truth.
In 2020 rapper Ice Cube posted a QAnon-type meme of the Star of David enclosing the ‘Black Cube of Saturn’, an occult symbol indicating chaos, and linked to a cult of Satan worshippers. Clearly this was antisemitic, linking Satan-worship to the Jewish people, and could perhaps be associated with QAnon. https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/9400472/ice-cube-criticized-anti-semitic-images-conspiracy-theories
The absurdity of the allegations made by QAnon have not prevented it from gaining a worrying degree of traction, with recent polling (October 2020) suggesting strong support in the U.S., especially among Trump-supporting Republican voters. In the UK as many as 25% of the population, and 40% of people under 25, said that they too believe in the theory, according to one polling organisation. Facebook acted quickly to ban the promotion of the QAnon theory from their platform, but as we write it continues to gain increasing credence not just in the USA but also in other countries. It is important to note, that many people believing in QAnon and related theories are not aware of their antisemitic connections.
Example 43: Covid conspiracy theory:
To bring this account right up to date as of November 2020, we take a look at how conspiracy theories have been applied to the Covid-19 pandemic, including their inevitable antisemitic components. Throughout history, Jews have been blamed for crises and disasters, so it is no surprise at all that the conspiracy theories emerging from the coronavirus crisis also suggest Jews are plotting to these ends.
Some coronavirus conspiracists throw doubt on the reality of the COVID-19 virus, and assume that stories of the virus are a plot to mislead the public or disrupt the economy through panic. Others accept that the virus is real, but suggest it has been deliberately created and spread for malevolent purposes. As explained by the Community Security Trust: ‘There are several variations on this theme: that there is a “Zionist agenda” to depopulate the world by killing huge numbers of people; that coronavirus is part of a plot involving some combination of the United States, Israel and China; that Israel or the Jews developed coronavirus and blamed it on China to try to start World War Three; that prominent Jewish and non-Jewish businessmen such as George Soros (a regular hate figure for conspiracy theorists) have a financial interest in spreading the virus and then developing a vaccine; or some combination of these theories.’ https://cst.org.uk/data/file/d/9/Coronavirus%20and%20the%20plague%20of%20antisemitism.1586276450.pdf
Other theories reference age-old antisemitic tropes of Jews as dirty and associated with disease – in mediaeval times they were accused of spreading the plague – for example by dubbing the virus ‘Jew Flu’. Where some Jewish people die from COVID-19 in disproportionate numbers, some hardcore antisemites actually celebrate this fact, or talk online about purposely spreading the virus to Jews in the ‘Holocough’.
Almost all the current Covid-19 conspiracy theories are developments or mutations of pre-existing theories, which often blame Jews as part of – or the whole of – the world being controlled by secret elites. This applies to the anti-vaccine movement, to the anti-5G movement, to David Icke’s theories, and to QAnon, all of which are involved in the current movements to counter necessary coronavirus lockdowns. Coronavirus conspiracy theory appeals to the credulous and those distrustful of established authority and expert knowledge, who have been described by Stephen Buranyi as the ‘newly porous centre’. These people can then easily be led towards dangerous far-right ideology; this allows anti-democratic demagogues like Donald Trump (who has at times cast doubt about the existence of the virus, though at other times he has taken a less denialist approach) to increase their appeal. This in turn has led to increased attacks on minority groups, including Jews. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/04/coronavirus-conspiracy-theorists-far-right-protests
Our first example is from Germany, where The Robert Koch Institute, the main German public health advisory body, has reported receiving threatening emails including “What a shame for those of you who are accessories of this phoney government that there are no more gas chambers”. In addition, Covid-19 ‘truthers’ are trivialising and downplaying the Holocaust by comparing measures taken to dampen the spread of the pandemic to the treatment of Jewish people under the Nazis. Anti-vaxxer demonstrators at so-called ‘hygiene demonstrations’ have often worn yellow stars similar to those Jews were forced to wear during the Third Reich, but bearing the word ungeimpft (unvaccinated) instead of Jude (Jew). It is appalling that people being asked only to wear a mask or have a vaccination are comparing this requirement with the fate of Jews in Nazi Germany. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/21/german-jewish-leaders-fear-rise-of-antisemitic-conspiracy-theories-linked-to-covid-19
In the photo below, the demonstrator wearing garb imitating concentration camp prisoner uniform holds a sign saying ‘Maske macht frei’ which is a reference to the famous ‘Arbeit macht frei’ (‘Work makes you free’) slogan over the entrance to Auschwitz. ‘Maske an Gehim aus’ means ‘Mask on, brain off’.
The second example shows Kate Shemirani , a now-suspended nurse, speaking at a UK lockdown protest. Shemirani has claimed the crisis is a ‘scamdemic’ and that Wuhan, the first city to see a major Covid-19 outbreak, was a ‘test city for 5G’. She has also written ‘Murder. Genocide. The NHS is the new Auschwitz.’ She believes that governments will use vaccines to track the public: ‘They will be able to look at every aspect of what is going on in our brains. ‘Not only can they pick it up, they can download into us.’