Nazis, Covid protests and antisemitism

August 24th, 2021

The following article has been published in The Times of Israel – The Blogs and J-Wire by ECAJ Research Director Julie Nathan.


Racism in the 21st century has focussed on opposing non-white immigration into white-majority countries, and calls to expel those not of European ethnicity. This is framed within the ideology known as “white-genocide” – the belief that the European races are deliberately being turned into a minority in their own countries.

An example of this racism is seen in graffiti in Sydney, in March 2019, that targeted four ethnic communities, namely east Asians, south Asians, Africans, and Jews: “Gooks Fuck off”, “Pakis Go home”, “Niggers Go home”, and “Kill the Jews”. The incongruity in this graffiti is stark – deport Asians and Africans, but kill Jews. What is behind this kind of thinking?

National Socialism (Nazism), and with it, allegiance to Adolf Hitler, is increasingly becoming a major ideology within the right-wing extremist milieu, with many people moving from civic patriotism to racialist nationalism, embracing “race-war”, “white-revolution” and the genocide of the Jewish people. Seventy years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, a regime that instigated WW11 and a racist genocide, its ideology is being adopted and promoted.

Antisemitism is a form of racism, and it has its own unique characteristics. The portrayal of Jews by racists is starkly different to portrayals of other minority communities. While Jews, and other ethnic minorities, are portrayed as inferior, foreign, and dirty, Jews are given additional stereotypes, the polar opposite to the general portrayal of minorities. Jews are consistently portrayed as the hidden hand, the power behind the curtain, the manipulator, the string-puller, and the puppet master. Antisemites believe that “the Jews”, despite their numerical insignificance, are the most powerful people on the planet, so powerful that they supposedly control the US, the EU, the UN, Russia and China. Some even believe that “the Jews” control nature and can whip up tsunamis or train sharks to attack gentiles.

In tandem with the belief of “the Jews” as being inordinately powerful, is the corollary, that “the Jews” are evil, absolutely evil, that it is in their very blood to be so. This is not a new concept. Christian teaching for centuries, and still today in some Christian circles, portrayed “the Jew” as “Christ-killer” – powerful enough and evil enough to have killed the Christian deity. For a thousand years, Jews were also portrayed as drinking the blood of Christian children, of torturing Jesus by sticking pins voodoo-style into the Christian Eucharist wafer, of poisoning the water-wells of Europe to cause the Black Plague as a means to annihilate Christendom, and of being behind other evil and murderous plots. Such lies resulted in countless innocent Jews being slaughtered, and whole Jewish communities massacred.

Jew-hatred is based on an irrational mindset and framed in conspiracy theories – it is based on belief in an imaginary mythical being that does not actually exist, except in the minds of antisemites. Jew-hatred is not based on who Jews actually are, but on belief in the mythological Jew. It is this – the fantasy of the all-powerful and all-evil Jew – that drives ordinary people to the belief that the Jewish people are not only a threat to the society, race, country or religion, but are an existential threat to humanity, and so must be eliminated from the world, in some deluded cosmic struggle to survive.

On internet sites, such as Gab and Telegram, favoured by extremists, where people are free to post their views with almost absolute impunity, it is so common that it has become normal to see expressions of racist hate, vilification, and calls not just for the mass murder of Jews, but for the extermination of Jews.

On these sites, many of these conspiracy theorists shout with glee about how “the Jews” will ‘pay for what they’ve done’, that “the Jews” ‘won’t be in charge much longer’, that they will be overthrown, and that they will face the full wrath of what’s coming. There are repetitive and consistent calls to kill Jews, and to “have a real Holocaust this time”.

For many within these milieus, the Covid-19 pandemic has become a gift, an incredible opportunity for them to recruit people to the cause. Covid-19 and government responses to it have increasingly become a focal point of social unrest, scepticism and conspiracy theories. This presents the opportunity to attract and galvanise an array of racists, conspiracy theorists, and anti-government activists, to the antisemitic cause. From early 2020, Jews were blamed for creating the virus, often claimed to be a way to poison much of humanity and to destroy western economies, all in order to bring about full Jewish control of the world.

Many conspiracy theorists are promoting the belief that Covid-19 does not actually exist, or if it does, it is no worse than the common cold. There the belief splits into two main interrelated strands. One, that the vaccine is the poison, and it will mutate human genes, making people sterile and servile. Two, that government responses, namely mask-wearing and lockdowns, are a testing ground for how far democratically elected governments can go in bringing in authoritarian laws, and to see whether people will comply with or resist such laws. The end game is seen as mass depopulation of the world, through the vaccine, and turning the world into a police state – all claimed to be plotted and manipulated by “the Jews” for their own nefarious ends.

The anti-lockdown protests worldwide in 2021 – opposing measures such as mask-wearing, vaccination, stay at home orders and more – have attracted tens of thousands of people in cities across the Western world. The protesters are a conglomerate of disparate views from long-time anti-vaccination campaigners, new-agers, libertarians, and the perennial conspiracy theorists, as well as ordinary people caught up in the hype and fear of a pandemic. These people are angry at ‘the system’, and many protests have involved violent clashes with police. These protesters present a large force of tappable material for extremist groups.

On the streets, antisemitic placards and stickers have sought to “awaken” people to the supposed Jewish role in this pandemic. An antisemitic placard “Don’t Submit to the Zionist World Order”, held by a known Nazi supporter, was at the anti-lockdown protest in Sydney on 24 July. Stickers of the Star of David with “9 11” inside and a QR code linking to a video blaming “the Jews” for 9/11 were plastered around the Melbourne protest site just prior to the protest of 21 August. At the same protest, there were multiple placards with the word “Qui??” (French for “who”). ‘Qui’ in this context is a code asking who is behind this, and the prescribed answer is: “the Jews”. The Qui meme originated with the French retired army general, Dominique Delawarde, in June, who, when asked about who controlled the international media, answered with coded language used for “the Jews”.

The danger lies in fringe individuals and groups, especially neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists, infiltrating and infecting the self-proclaimed “freedom” street protesters to adopt antisemitic ideas, and turning anti-lockdown protesters into foot soldiers for a ‘race-war’ and an open rebellion against democratically elected governments.

Their aim is to incorporate a racist ideology into the appetite for civil unrest amongst thousands of people taking to the streets. Already, there are calls for politicians and police to be attacked, killed and “strung up by their feet”. These neo-Nazis aim to overthrow the government, take control, and turn the country into a Nazi totalitarian dictatorship, and remove those they consider racial outcasts, including by mass deportation and genocide.

It is hoped that our governments and law enforcement agencies are fully cognizant of these threats, and take effective action to counter any form of extremism. Our democratic way of life, our freedoms, and our well-being, depend upon it.

Julie Nathan is the Research Director at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak representative body of the Australian Jewish community, and is the author of the annual ECAJ Report on Antisemitism in Australia.