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March 16, 2020 12:26 pm

‘This Is Nothing New’: Jewish Human Rights Icon Natan Sharansky Addresses Antisemitic Propaganda Around Coronavirus

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Natan Sharansky. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Natan Sharansky — the former Soviet refusenik who spent nine years leading the Jewish Agency between 2009-18 — has spoken out against antisemitic conspiracy theories linking Jews to the COVID-19 pandemic, observing that these were “nothing new.”

Speaking to an online gathering on Sunday, Sharansky invoked the Black Death of the 14th century as a precedent for today’s woes.

“The idea that Jews are behind the virus, that Jews want to destroy markets, to make money or that Israel is behind it — there is nothing new in it,” Sharansky said. “We saw it during the Black Death in the Middle Ages. There was broad belief that Jews were behind it.”

Addressing the first digital awards ceremony of the US-based Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) — held online because of the continuing rapid spread of the virus — Sharansky emphasized that the “difference between then and now is that today the State of Israel is strong, we are fighting antisemitism and we will defeat it.”

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State Department Special Envoy Elan Carr — who advises US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on antisemitism — also addressed the gathering, at which the 37 winners of a contest for creative proposals to fight antisemitism were announced.

“The current administration is determined by its words and action to fight antisemitism,” Carr stated. “The administration is committed to secure the physical security of Jews, to fight the spread of antisemitism on the internet, to end radicalization of students in the Middle East through textbooks, to educate about philo-semitism, and to take legal action against those who engage in antisemitism.”

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