RFK Jr says Covid was 'ethnically targeted' to spare Jewish people

The presidential candidate has denied accusations of antisemitism


PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JUNE 05: Democratic Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. speaks as Michael Smerconish hosts a SiriusXM Town Hall with Democratic Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. at The Centre Theater on June 05, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Long shot Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr has denied allegations of antisemitism after a video emerged Saturday in which he suggested Covid-19 was an “ethnically targeted” bioweapon genetically engineered to spare Ashkenazi Jews.

Speaking at a dinner in New York City’s Upper East Side earlier this week, Kennedy, nephew of former president John F. Kennedy, claimed there “was an argument that [Covid] is ethnically targeted.

“Covid-19 attacks certain races disproportionately. Covid-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese,” he said in a video during a discussion about “ethnically targeted microbes”.

The US-based antisemitism watchdog Anti-Defamation League said in a statement that the “claim that Covid-19 was a bioweapon created by the Chinese or Jews to attack Caucasians and black people is deeply offensive and feeds into sinophobic and antisemitic conspiracy theories,”

An overwhelming portion of American Jews are Ashkenazi Jews, descended from Jews who lived in Central and Eastern Europe.

On Twitter, Kennedy said the story, first reported by The New York Post, was “mistaken”.

“I have never, ever suggested that the Covid-19 virus was targeted to spare Jews,” Kennedy wrote. “I accurately pointed out – during an off-the-record conversation – that the US and other governments are developing ethnically targeted bioweapons,”

He pointed to a study from the National Institute of Health which found that black people and people with cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions were more genetically susceptible to the disease.

“In that sense, it serves as a kind of proof of concept for ethnically targeted bioweapons. I do not believe and never implied that the ethnic effect was deliberately engineered,” Kennedy said.

Saturday’s comments were not Kennedy’s first foray into conspiracy theories.

Speaking at an anti-vaccination rally in Washington DC in January 2022, he suggested that things are worse for people today than they were for Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager who died in a Nazi death camp after hiding with her family in a secret annex for two years. He later apologised for the comparison after widespread condemnation.

He has also promoted the scientifically discredited link between vaccines and autism, and in 2015 described vaccinations as a “holocaust”.

Kennedy launched his bid for the Democratic nomination in the 2024 presidential election in April 2023 and, according to some polls, he has garnered as much as 20 per cent support among primary voters.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive