Ghislaine Maxwell verdict is a field day for cranks

The case has been a lightning rod for conspiracy theorists from across the entire spectrum


NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 21: The Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse is seen in Manhattan as the jury deliberates in the case against Ghislaine Maxwell on December 21, 2021 in New York City. The 59-year-old Maxwell is accused of helping the financier Jeffrey Epstein recruit and sexually abuse four underage girls for years. If convicted the British socialite could face up to 80 years in prison. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

January 13, 2022 10:11

With the conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell for sex trafficking, activists of all ideological stripes have taken to social media to assert that Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein were working on behalf of Israel in a Mossad blackmail plot. Though this fiction was already being shared in the wake of Epstein’s suicide in prison, her conviction has crystalised it. The conspiracy theory taints all Jewish people with the crimes of two people of Jewish descent.

Spinwatch, an organisation which lists former Bristol University Professor David Miller as one of its two directors, has tweeted to 11,600 followers that the Epstein-Maxwell case is more than it seems: “It’s an op. A very expensive one at that.” Spinwatch posited: “Are we not all very well aware of which intelligence agency runs the op? What does the op do? Production of: Kompromat! All those minutely recorded incidences of abuse in a huge collection of folders.” 

Kompromat is a Russian term for holding embarrassing or compromising material over someone to use in order to blackmail them. 

“Could be any? But is it? It seems very clear that the principal spook agency is Mossad. No?”, they add for clarity.

Meanwhile, the Brixton branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign has asserted on Instagram and  Facebook that the affair shows, “Israel’s involvement in a key pedophile [sic] Network”. The posts bear the logo of a group called Key48, that campaigns for Palestine. It has posted the same conspiracy on its Instagram page to over 77,000 followers, where it has been liked more than 3,000 times. The posts are based on statements made by a figure called Ari ben Menashe, who claims to have worked for Israeli intelligence several decades ago. The fact that Ben Menashe, who has previously worked as a lobbyist for the Myanmar Junta, has his claims treated seriously, says a lot about how easily conspiracy theories about Israel are accepted, even by people who view themselves as defenders of human rights. When interviewed by RT in 2020, Ben Menashe was asked for evidence supporting his claims, but didn’t have anything to offer other than his assertions.

In September 2020, controversial preacher Sheikh Asrar Rashid recorded a lecture called Conspiracy Theories — Coronavirus, COVID19. In it, he claimed as fact that there was a plot to blow up the al Aqsa mosque, before demanding that “questions should be asked” as to whether Ghislaine Maxwell was running a paedophile ring for the Mossad. 

At one point, he asks: “Was the procuring or grooming of young girls for people of influence done for the Mossad? Was it recorded for the Mossad? These are things that must be questioned and if someone questions them they are conveniently labelled as conspiracy theorists.”

While Rashid asks questions, British neo-Nazi Mark Collett claims to have answers. On New Year’s Eve he posted to his 13,000 Telegram followers: “Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were not simply perverted sex traffickers; they were agents of the Israeli state and were running a sophisticated, well-funded and extremely far-reaching honey pot operation. 

“They supplied underage girls to leading politicians, influential figures and dignitaries — including US Presidents and members of the British Royal family — and recorded the interactions. Those caught on tape then had their ‘interactions’ leveraged against them to ensure that they always did the ‘right thing’ when it came to matters that were of interest to Israel. This is how Israel controls your politicians and shapes foreign and domestic policy in Western nations.”

Collett also discussed these conspiracies as a guest of notorious Jew hater David Duke’s online radio show, where Duke claimed, “it wasn’t just about Epstein’s predilections and paedophilia, it was really about an Israeli spy ring.” 

The Brixton Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Key48 and Duke all used Ben Menashe’s comments. The conversation lends itself to classic antisemitic tropes of Jewish control, which Duke spoke about at some length — including a rant about the five biggest media companies in the world, two of which he referred to as “Faceberg and Jewgle”. 

Some people who hate Jews are proud to admit to their hatred. Others refuse to accept they’re antisemitic, claiming they are stating hard-to-hear truths about Zionists. That this ‘plot’ doesn’t exist except in the minds of those propagating it doesn’t appear to matter to them. 

The Russian secret police capitalised on this well of antisemitism when they put together the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Duke and Collett see themselves as pushing back against the Jewish power that exists only in that book, while others see themselves as pushing back against Zionist power. But when you put all the conspiracies together, they all look the same.

Marc Goldberg is head of investigations at CST. He is on Twitter at @marcgoldberg111

January 13, 2022 10:11

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