Antisemitism a virus symptom
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COVID AND RACISM

Antisemitism a virus symptom

'We have seen a surge in antisemitic hate online in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic'.

An antisemitic poster recently uncovered on social media.
An antisemitic poster recently uncovered on social media.

AMONG the miseries resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has been an upsurge in right-wing extremism and antisemitism, with Jews being accused of manipulating the pandemic, prompting a platform called All Together Now to release a paper with strategies to reinforce an equitable Australia.

“We have seen a surge in antisemitic hate online in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic,” All Together Now managing director Priscilla Brice told The AJN, “specifically in the form of conspiracy theories blaming Jewish people for spreading the virus and for manipulating the pandemic to expand their power and global control.

“We have observed these antisemitic conspiracy theories to be present both on mainstream online platforms as well as on so-called alternative social media platforms and channels such as MeWe, Gab and Telegram,” she noted.

The not-for-profit’s Community Action for Preventing Extremism project has identified the rise in antisemitism and racism, coupled with conspiracy theories and inflammatory material being spread across social media, and it reports more Australians witnessing and experiencing racist behaviour.

An antisemitic cartoon posted on social media.

The All Together Now research has tracked a number of trends since COVID-19 hit Australian shores at the beginning of this year, said Brice.

With physical distancing, an economic downturn and a rise in unemployment, it is likely that many Australians feel alone, isolated and emotional. Generally, right-wing extremists in Australia use social media platforms to recruit people in these circumstances.

They build a sense of community by focusing on antidemocratic, xenophobic, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and ableist values and activities, the document stated.


Some of the activities the paper has noted include conspiracy theories with racist undertones, messages expressing hope that COVID-19 will spread within different countries or communities to reduce particular minority groups, and anti-government narratives, undermining the Australian government’s measures, such as physical distancing.

The organisation is monitoring right-wing extremist group behaviour and activity, training frontline workers who work online with young people, monitoring mainstream media for racist social commentary, and circulating facts relating to racism and COVID-19 via its social media channels.

“It is vital that Australia creates the social conditions that prevent young people from joining extremist groups, while also building the resilience of individuals and communities to withstand such divisive behaviours,” noted the paper.

All Together Now is working on a social impact evaluation and cost-benefit analysis of its project.

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