A NEW report has called for the government to urgently tackle a “resurgence of antisemitism” within the fast growing anti-vaccination movement.
The document also warned that the UK’s three-tier system of coronavirus controls means that “the need to address antisemitic and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories will become more acute”.
It predicts that even after a vaccine for Covid-19 emerges, “it will be essential to quickly sideline the conspiracy theories and misinformation of the anti-vaxxers”.
The study, sent to all government departments this week, warns: “Exposing the level of antisemitism amongst the anti-vaxxer movement now is therefore of the utmost importance.”
Alarmingly, the document’s analysis of 27 leading anti-vaxxer networks operating on Facebook and Twitter found that antisemitic content was present in 79 per cent of them.
This included the social media network set up to support the leading activist promoting the “Covid-19 hoax” theory, Piers Corbyn — the brother of the former Labour Party leader.
“The UK government must not be complacent about the levels of misinformation on social media and its infiltration into local communities,” warns the document.
It continues: “The government needs to urgently tackle the growth of conspiracy theories during the pandemic if the public are to remain trustful and confident in public health guidelines and recommendations.
“As temporary restrictions on individual freedoms look set to be prolonged or extended as the United Kingdom enters a three-tier system of coronavirus controls, the need to address antisemitic and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories will become more acute.”
The study — prepared for the government by Lord John Mann, its Independent Adviser on Antisemitism, and Dr Lewis Arthurton, an expert in molecular cell biology in health and disease — noted how countrywide lockdowns had left people feeling increasingly anxious and more susceptible to conspiracy theories about the pandemic.
“For many with concerns about public health measures, Facebook groups promoting conspiracy theories provide easy answers to users desiring certainty,” the report says.
Researcher Dr Arthurton told the JC: “I was truly shocked to see how often antisemitism reared its head when groups discussed vaccines.
"I expected a few examples but not so much on so many different platforms.”
At the centre of many of these theories, the report noted, was the suggestion that “Jews created coronavirus, and that Jews are colluding behind the scenes to destabilise banks and countries through the spread of the virus.”
The document details the “deep rooted history” of the association between infectious diseases and antisemitism, which stretches back to the mid-14th century, when Jews across Europe were blamed for the spread of the bubonic plague.
It adds that these sentiments were echoed in Nazi propaganda, “perhaps most famously in the film Der Ewige Jude (‘The Eternal Jew’), where Jews were depicted as rats spreading infections across Europe. “It confirms these same tropes are regularly spread by antisemites today with the rise of the so-called “Plandemic” and “New World Order” conspiracy theories.
Both theories put Jews at the centre of blame for Covid-19 – even suggesting that the threat of the virus is a “hoax” or “planned” by a global elite of prominent Jews, including George Soros and the Rothschilds.
“Most people are desperate for a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19, as are governments across the world,” states the document.
“Once a vaccine becomes available it will be essential to quickly sideline the conspiracy theories and misinformation of the anti-vaxxers.
“Exposing their links to antisemitism and age old conspiracy theories can only assist the public health message, but in doing so government and civil society organisations must also combat the resurgence of antisemitism that, as this report evidences, is present in 79 per cent of anti-vaxxer networks.
“The attempts to blame ‘the other’ for the economic and health problems of Covid-19 will inevitably mean an increase in antisemitism at precisely the moment that nations will need to be at their most united.
“Exposing the level of antisemitism amongst the anti-vaxxer movement now is therefore of the utmost importance.”
Microsoft co- founder Bill Gates is repeatedly falsely referred to by anti-vaxxers as a “Jewish aristocrat”, the report notes.
“Whilst Gates is not Jewish, many posts believe that he is, referring to Gates as a ‘Jewish aristocrat’,” it states.
“Other users frequently suggest that Gates is paid by Jewish ‘puppet masters’, sharing links to videos and websites that promise proof of his supposed connections to the ‘New World Order’ “
Hungarian born philanthropist Mr Soros is also ruthlessly attacked, says the study, in “a substantial number of these conspiracy theories” which are “centred on longstanding antisemitic tropes that Jews work behind the scenes to control counties and orchestrate global crises for their benefit.”
The 20 page document, ‘From antivaxxers to antisemitism: Conspiracy theory in the Covid-19 pandemic’, includes numerous shocking examples of the antisemitic tropes now being circulated widely on social media.
This report is based on qualitative research carried out on Twitter and Facebook in September and October 2020. It contains screenshots of updates or comments, which at times link to antisemitic videos, documents and blogs hosted by BitChute, YouTube and other websites.
One image attempts to link Holocaust conspiracy theories with the current pandemic and includes the incendiary claim: “Jews in the camps were working for Large Pharma .. the people funding the war…the same people funding the current plandemic.”
Another suggests: “Covid 19: A Zionist Creation To Take Over The World”.
The effect of such theories is to discredit lockdown measures aimed at protecting public health.
“These conspiracy theorists promote the antisemitic trope that there is a there is a ‘Zionist agenda’ to destabilise the world and restrict people’s freedoms,” states the report.
The document also notes how the “inappropriate use of Holocaust imagery” has become a feature of antimask and anti-vaccine protests held across the UK.
The JC has previously exposed how leading anti-vaxx campaigner Kate Shemirani, currently suspended from her job as a nurse, has repeatedly made comparisons between the government’s lockdown and actions of the German Nazis.
Worryingly, the document suggests that while social media giants such as Facebook have recently announced a ban on material promoting QAnon and anti-vaxx propaganda, this has only driven activists to other social media platforms to continue spreading their ideas.
It says: “On 6 October 2020, Facebook announced a ban on QAnon Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts that share an often antisemitic conspiracy theory that says President Trump is waging a war against elite Satan-worshipping paedophiles.
“As a result, several Facebook groups have asked their members to move to other platforms including VK, MeWe, Parler and Telegram.
“Some local groups have opted to also organise in-person meetings.”
The report concludes: “Whilst not all anti-vaxxers share antisemitic attitudes, it is probable that their propensity to conspiracy theory reduces their resilience to antisemitic beliefs and attitudes.”
Lord Mann, the Government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism told the JC: “Not surprisingly, wherever you find anti-vaxxers there is strong likelihood that you will find antisemitism.
“Both left-wing and right-wing antivaxxers live in a world of conspiracy theories and the danger when we have a vaccine, is that their absurd messages will get a wider airing and there will be both health dangers and a concurrent rise in antisemitism.
“We will need to be extra vigilant as some of these anti-vaxxer groups will continue to seek to find and blame scapegoats as the economic downside of the coronavirus crisis worsens.”
Karen Pollock , chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said:"“We know only too well that when unsubstantiated and dangerous conspiracies are allowed to spread, antisemitism follows soon after. Social media platforms have a duty to remove conspiracy theories, antisemitism and hate from their platforms.”