“Covid, Conspiracies and Jew-Hate: Antisemitism in the Covid-19 conspiracy movement” breaks down not only the rise in antisemitism in the direct wake of the pandemic, but also the legacy for the far right extremists, who have used fear of vaccines and lockdown to propagate their views.
CST recorded 118 antisemitic hate incidents in 2020 and 2021 that involved language or imagery linked to the pandemic, alongside anti-Jewish language or targeting. These incidents included verbal abuse and threats directed at Jewish people, graffiti blaming Jews for Covid, and antisemitic leaflets.
CST says that Britain’s largest far- right group, Patriotic Alternative, and former BNP leader Nick Griffin, have each exploited the anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown movement to spread their views.
The report says: “This is the first time that Britain has had a domestic political movement, fuelled primarily by conspiracy theories, that is active both online and offline. It has outlived the ending of Covid restrictions and is likely to retain its influence in the future.
CST also notes: “An alternative form of antisemitism that became prominent in the Covid conspiracy movement is the grotesque and offensive misuse of language and symbols related to the Holocaust. Anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown protesters have worn yellow stars (similar to the identifying badges the Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust) and compared vaccination centres to death camps”.
During the pandemic, the report says, “the Jewish community suffered from a new type of antisemitic incident known as ‘Zoom- bombing’. Due to the closure of synagogues and communal venues, the community had to suddenly rely on online platforms to hold religious, educational and social events. This led to a wave of ‘Zoom-bombings’, in which individuals or groups hijacked these online Jewish communal events to spread antisemitic hate, either by shouting out antisemitic slurs or putting antisemitic comments in the chat function for the online events. CST received 19 reports of these antisemitic incidents in 2020 and 16 in 2021”.