Anti-Semitism Monitor June Findings
Throughout the first half of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic provided fodder for anti-Semites worldwide. In June the brutal killing of George Floyd delivered new opportunities for anti-Semites of diverse ideologies to drive home their belief that Jews are the source of mankind’s woes.
How did the heartbreaking death of George Floyd implicate Jews? For some on the left this was an opportunity to hold Israel responsible for the hate of minorities and deadly tactics that have killed African Americans in Minneapolis and other American cities. This vilification of Israel has not been accompanied with any evidence to back up the charges. With just a bit of fact-checking, it quickly becomes apparent that these accusations are reckless and irresponsible.
Roger Waters, cofounder of the British Rock group Pink Floyd and the poster boy for extreme and often despicable criticism of the Jewish state, weighed in on George Floyd’s death in a June 20 interview with the Hamas-connected Shabab News Agency. In that session Waters claimed that Israel Defense Forces invented the lethal method of kneeling on the neck to kill Palestinians and that the U.S. police brought Israelis to the states to teach them how to use this deadly tactic on African Americans. For good measure, Waters threw in a few classic, anti-Semitic tropes that Sheldon Adelson was the puppet master controlling Donald Trump and that Adelson believed that non-Jews were sub-human.
There were many others who claimed direct Israeli responsibility for deadly force used against African Americans. The Middle East Monitor (MEMO), a press monitoring organization that has been characterized as a group that promotes Jewish conspiracies and is pro-Hamas, circulated a cartoon of an Israeli soldier instructing an American policeman in a classroom on how to kneel on someone’s neck. MEMO also declared that it was a “fact that thousands of American police officers have been trained by Israelis, thus the burgeoning of violent military-like tactics used against ordinary Americans.”
Elements of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the U.S. and abroad found this false Israeli conspiracy story useful. The BDS national working group of the Democratic Socialists of America asserted that “US cops train in Israel…police violence happening tonight in Minneapolis is straight out of the IDF playbook.”
The University of California system received a petition from over 200 academic and student organizations that demanded the university system “divest from companies that profit off of Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine, investments that uphold a system of anti-Black racism in the US.” It went on to claim the “knee-to-neck choke-hold” perfected by Israel to torture Palestinians is viewed as a model by American police departments. The U.S. campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) tweeted “[t]he Israeli military trains US police in racist and repressive policing tactics, which systematically targets black and brown bodies.”
In the UK, the British actress Maxine Peake, a supporter of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was quoted as saying that the tactic of kneeling on the neck used by American police “was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.” When a prominent Labour MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey retweeted the article with Peake’s unsubstantiated allegation she was demoted from her leadership position by new Labour leader, Keir Starmer. The UK’s Communist affiliated Morning Star newspaper claimed Minnesota police had learned violent, terrorizing techniques from Israelis at a 2012 conference and quoted one activist as claiming that “it is clear that they [Israel] share these methods when they train police forces abroad in ‘crowd control’ in the US.”
Black Lives Matter UK (BLMUK) was a bit more restrained when it charged that it was unclear whether Israel was responsible for the death of George Floyd— citing Amnesty International’s claim that Israel police forces have played a key role in training U.S. police forces. What BMLK neglected to mention was that Amnesty, which has often been accused of being biased against Israel, recently admitted it has never reported that “‘neck kneeling’ is a technique taught by the Israeli secret services.”
In Paris this month, a demonstration to protest racism also included a chant by a portion of the crowd of “Dirty Jews.” Even more disturbing, Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the influential far-left party in France, responded to reports of this chant by criticizing these reports as “peddling anti-Semitic gossip.”
The extreme left is not alone in the reckless use of lies to fit into its own preconceived prejudices. Far-right conspiracy theorists were busy in June blaming Jewish billionaire George Soros for supposedly funding antifa and paying Black Lives Matters protesters. On Twitter during June there were 500,000 daily posts about anti-Semitic, Soros-related conspiracy theories as well as charges that Soros was behind the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, these types of Soros conspiracy theories continue to “leak” into mainstream party politics. In June a handful of Republican county chairs in Texas were criticized for making similar claims that Soros had funded protests.
Of course, we can’t get inside the head of each of these conspiracy theorists of the right and the left to prove that they consciously hate Jews. However, when you decide to peddle conspiracy theories about Israel and Jews, you are more than reckless and irresponsible. You are embracing anti-Semitism.