Palestinian anti-Israel social media campaign tries to link Israel to the coronavirus with some accusing Israel of spreading the virus into Palestinian areas. Ugly tweets re-ignite anti-Semitic images that blame Jews for plagues.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic trolls are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic, using social media to continue their incitement campaign.
Palestinians and anti-Israel supporters started using the #COVID48 hashtag on Twitter recently in a bid to compare Israel to the virus by linking the pandemic to the failure of Arab armies in 1948 to destroy the nascent Jewish state.
Israeli medical assistance and coordination with the Palestinian Authority is well documented as both fight the epidemic in their areas, but Palestinian media continues its incessant propaganda war to spread more anti-Israel incitement.
Palestinian cartoonists and graphic artists have been busy trying to outdo each other in producing the most outrageous graphics to post on social media. Pictures have been posted of an Israeli “coronavirus” tank about to crush a Palestinian, Gaza being squeezed between the COVID-19 virus and a “COVID-48” virus, and an Israeli tank shooting coronavirus bullets into Palestinian areas.
The inciting graphics have also generated hate-inspired responses online. Last month, Israel Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Dan Poraz tweeted that just as Israel marked Yom HaShoah to commemorate the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust, Palestinian social media started using the #Covid48 hashtag.
“This wouldn’t be the first time Jews are compared to viruses,” Poraz tweeted, and the response from Palestinians was vile.
“It’s not corona virus, but the Israeli occupation that eats Palestine. #covid48,” Farah Hammad tweeted.
“The Israeli occupation is a virus that is pervasive in our lands, and it will be eliminated, as will Corona,” tweeted Ameera Zein.
“Corona will be eliminated, and the Israeli occupation will be eliminated. After that, they will have no trace or mention and will return to the dustbin of history,” tweeted Nada Alkahlout.
None of the social media responses talked about any Israeli-Palestinian issues, but instead used the platform as an excuse to call for Israel’s destruction.
Blogger David Collier, who researches anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, says any time there is a crisis, there will be a rush to blame the Jews.
“Three key trends resurface over and over again in history. Jews kill gods, Jews kill children, Jews spread disease,” Collier said.
Tweets against Zionism were also in the social media wave, including “Zionism will use this ‘covid 19‘ issue to maximise their own political gain” and “ZIONISM: THE WORST VIRUS OF HUMANITY.”
It’s not just individual Palestinians who are using the pandemic to attack Israel on social media. Political leaders and mainstream Palestinian media have also concocted stories to continue their policy of anti-Israel incitement.
The Palestinian Authority’s official newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, regularly publishes anti-Israel articles, including political cartoons connecting Israel to the coronavirus. A cartoon published April 9 shows an Israeli soldier in a community in Judea and Samaria firing corona “bullets” at Palestinians with a caption saying, “The settlements have become hotbeds of infection.”
The watchdog group NGO Monitor noted that it’s not just Palestinian activists and politicians, but also pro-Palestinian NGOs that are exploiting the coronavirus rhetoric to bash Israel. The group maintains a detailed web page of statements by different pro-Palestinian organizations that are “exploiting the coronavirus for anti-Israel campaigns.”
“The news cycle has been dominated by COVID-19, and a number of advocacy NGOs have made statements linking their agendas to this issue,” NGO Monitor said.
In one of the more outrageous examples, a field worker for Amnesty International used Facebook to condemn a Zoom meeting last month between Gazan peace activists and Israelis, and he made sure the Hamas terror group that controls Gaza found out. The Zoom meeting organizer, Palestinian journalist Rami Aman, was arrested by Hamas April 9 and has not been heard from since.
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