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    A Twitter campaign launched by anti-Israel organizations comparing the Jewish State to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) that has killed over 200,000 worldwide has gained popularity in the US and Jordan.

    The campaign, launched with the hashtag #COVID48, was accompanied by cartoons comparing Israel in various ways to the pandemic and essentially calling for its eradication.

    Research suggests that the #COVID48 Twitterstorm originated from a Facebook event, complete with full campaign agenda, to mark Palestinian Prisoner’s Day. The campaign appears to have been coordinated by a group called “The Children of the Refugee Camps – The Jordanian Group” which has since been suspended by Twitter.


    Of roughly 1,000 Tweets sampled over a 15-hour period, #COVID48 had a reach of over 500,000 accounts with an impression count of over 1 million, with its largest impression bases in the US and Jordan.

    The #COVID48 campaign spread mostly through retweets.

    In the past week, during which anti-Israel delegitimization networks marked the observance of Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, there was an upsurge in online global anti-Semitism tying Israel and Jews to the Coronavirus.

    Several well-known anti-Israel NGOs such as Addameer, Palestinian Youth Movement-USA (PYM-USA), and NY4Palestine participated in online activities for Palestinian Prisoner’s Day. Several posted anti-Semitic content on their social media, including the conspiracy that Israel is infecting terrorists imprisoned in Israel with COVID-19, though no security prisoners in Israeli prisoners have tested positive for the virus.

    COVID-19, in general, has brought a sharp rise in online anti-Semitic content. As during previous global pandemics and catastrophes, Jews have been scapegoated and blamed for spreading the virus, have been characterized as the virus itself, and anti-Semitic theories have accused Jews of creating the virus for economic gain claimed and the novel Coronavirus was an Israeli bio-weapon.

    An internal report by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) revealed last month that anti-Semitism is rising around the world as a direct result of the spread of the Coronavirus.

    A sharp rise was detected globally, with the US, Germany, and France seeing the largest increase. The MFA stated that it was working closely with foreign governments to address the problem.

    Similarly, the UK-based Anti-Semitism watchdog Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) reported last month that anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are spreading online and in international media, claiming “Jews and Zionists” have “organized and engineered Coronavirus” as part of a scheme to “design the world, seize countries and neuter the world’s population.”

    Twitter has been a hub for Corona-based conspiracy theories, with Israel’s ongoing efforts to develop a vaccine also seen as “proof” for the “Zionist plot” by several users.


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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.