Did You Hear The One About The Jews?

Jews represent only 0.2% of the world's population, yet they account for 99.8% of worldwide conspiracies.

Actually, that's just my conspiracy theory. I don't know the precise percentage of conspiracies that have antisemitic origins, but according to experts, it's up there.

"If you scratch the surface of most conspiracy theories, not far underneath is some form of antisemitism," Peter Knight, Professor of American Studies at The University of Manchester and an expert on the spread of conspiracy theories said during an event Ipsos MORI organized in December 2021.

You can watch it in its entirety below -- and I recommend you do for reasons that go well beyond antisemitism -- but the gist is that conspiracies theories are as old as the hills and they tend to accelerate during times of strife and upheaval and many are based on historic archetypes perpetrating distrust of shadowy groups pulling the strings behind-the-scenes, like the "Illuminati," or outright hatred of Jews.



"In many ways, old conspiracy theories never die. They just get endlessly recycled," Knight noted, adding that they are based on "basic building blocks of narratives" that survive over time and crop up whenever people need something to point their fingers at."

I'm only writing about this now -- nearly two years later -- because antisemitic tropes have been trending more than any other time in my lifetime, and many responses to Hamas' attack on Israel -- and Israel's military response in Gaza -- seem to be exacerbating antisemitic attacks.

In fact, since Hamas raped, tortured and killed 1,400 Israelis on Oct. 7, the number of antisemitic incidents in the U.S. has grown 4x, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

As an American Jew who grew up in the aftermath of World War II and Hitler's near "final solution," I never understood why so many people in the world hated Jews just for being Jewish. And I never thought I'd see so many Americans celebrating the murderous acts of a terrorist group whose charter is to kill every Jew.

But we are living a media age that spreads so much misinformation, so quickly, I'm not surprised that antisemitic tropes are once again rising with it. According to experts like Professor Knight, it never really went away, and all that was needed was the right accelerants to come together in order to ignite it.

And in my opinion, that's the most lethal thing Hamas has done. As bad as its Oct. 7 carnage was, the military response it triggered by Israel's government is the real weapon of mass destruction, because it has unleashed so much pent up antisemitic sentiment. Actions too.

And while I absolutely defend Israel's right to defend itself, I think it needs to be measured in the way it does that, because even if it "wins" its military war with Hamas, it is bound to lose the information war as images of Israeli bombs, tanks and soldiers killing and maiming innocent Palestinians flood the media.

The truth is, wars have always been inhumane and devastated civilian populations, but in the past, we didn't get to see much of it. Now we get to see much, if not most of it -- 24/7 and trending on social media.

And as we have seen by Ukraine's heroic defense against Russia's inhumane invasion of its homeland, it can sway public opinion in support of -- or against -- one side or the other.

Right now, I feel like Jews are losing that war and battle for public opinion is turning against them, whether they live in Israel, America or anywhere else.

1 comment about "Did You Hear The One About The Jews?".
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  1. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics, November 3, 2023 at 2:54 p.m.

    Thank you Joe. Sad times.  

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