Purveyors of antisemitic conspiracy theories are two-a-penny, but one Russian TV documentary has gone a step further than most.
Jews are responsible for the sinking of the Titanic, the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl and the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, according to a short film broadcast recently on REN TV.
The documentary is an updated version of an earlier version broadcast in 2012, in which it was alleged that a group of “300 Jews, Illuminati and Freemasons” was behind the sinking of the British ship 100 years ago in order to cause an international crisis and take over the world.
The more recent film switches from past to the present tense and extends the conspiracy to Chernobyl, the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and 9/11, stating that the “Arab terrorists were unjustly blamed for the attacks”.
Commentators said the documentary was an attempt to revive the popularity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a 19th-century antisemitic forgery created by the Tsar’s secret service, the Okhrana, to whip up antisemitism in Russia.
REN TV is a private network with an potential audience of more than 100 million Russians.
In 2015, the Russian Ministry of Education and Science described the channel’s documentaries as "the most harmful pseudoscientific project (for spreading of myths, delusions and superstitions)" and criticised REN TV for spreading conspiracy theories and distrust of science.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, we uploaded the above article to the JC’s website and Facebook page.
The story, although in its way a classic of its genre, was yet another article about yet another media outlet publishing yet another antisemitic conspiracy theory.
Clearly mistakenly, we did not feel the need to point out that the documentary’s allegations were utter rubbish.
Mistakenly, because within minutes of the story being published, the potency of conspiracy theories – and the seemingly insatiable hunger of some people for them – was demonstrated by a stream of comments on social media welcoming the revelations supposedly contained in the documentary and praising the Russian channel, REN TV, for its exemplary investigative work. One Facebook user wrote: “Hadn’t heard about the Chernobyl connection before”, and another commented: “Nice work, REN TV”.
Another added: “The only one that’s not news is Chernobyl but it is no surprise. And by Jews we are talking the Zionist Cabal with their Archon blood”.
The journey of the story through social media is an object lesson in how conspiracy theories spread on the web.