Officials in Salem, Mass., Push Back Against Antisemitic COVID-19 Campaign Targeting Board of Health
Antisemitic messages directed at members of the Board of Health in Salem, Mass., have been reported to the police as city leaders expressed disgust at their content and tone on Friday.
“Over the past several weeks, members of the Salem Board of Health and Health Department staff with names perceived to indicate that they are Jewish have been directly targeted by hateful, antisemitic messages and threats online, by email, and over voicemails,” a joint community statement released by the city said. “These attacks have been reported to the Salem Police Department and the Anti-Defamation League.”
Salem’s Mayor, Kim Driscoll, condemned what she called “ vile, racist, antisemitic, and regressive attacks — whether online or in person.”
Said Driscoll: “We support those who volunteer for public service, despite these atrocious and utterly unacceptable actions and messages.”
Over the last year, far-right and white supremacist groups in the US have pushed the falsehood that Jews are responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic — a 21st century version of the medieval accusation that Jews poisoned water wells.
One group, the so-called Goyim Defense League (GDL), has carried out a coast-to-coast campaign involving leafleting and demonstrations that pins the pandemic on a Jewish conspiracy and traffics in other antisemitic tropes, including Holocaust denial.
The same antisemitic propaganda has now surfaced in Canada. On Friday, residents of a central Vancouver neighborhood woke up to discover that flyers blaming the pandemic on Jewish people had been placed on their doorsteps.
Local resident Ian Moore told news outlet The Columbian that he and his wife, an immigrant from eastern Europe, had been left feeling “physically sick” after picking up the flyer. Moore added that while he and his wife are not Jewish, he could only imagine how Jewish families would feel if the flyer was left on their front steps overnight.