Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s conspiracy theory that the Covid-19 virus was created to save Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people has sparked accusations of anti-Semitism and racism in the Democratic nominee’s long run for president.
“Covid-19. There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. Covid-19 attacks certain races disproportionately,” Mr. Kennedy said in a private meeting in New York that was captured. on video from The New York Post. “Covid-19 aims to attack Caucasians and blacks. The most immune people are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”
Mr Kennedy has made his political career on bogus conspiracy theories about not only Covid-19 and Covid vaccines but disproved links between common childhood vaccines and autism, mass surveillance and 5G mobile phone technology, ill effects of Wi-Fi and “stolen”. ” election in 2004 that returned the presidency to George W. Bush.
But his suggestion that the coronavirus pandemic spared Chinese people and Jews of European descent strayed into new and bigoted territory.
Asian Americans suffered through a brutal series of attacks at the beginning of the Covid pandemic by people who blamed the Chinese for intentionally unleashing the virus on the world. And Mr. Kennedy’s remarks about Ashkenazi Jews hit upon anti-Semitic tropes on multiple levels.
Ashkenazi Jews generally descend from those who settled in Eastern Europe after the Roman Empire destroyed the Jewish state around AD 70. Sephardic Jews went to the Middle East, North Africa and Spain.
The idea that Ashkenazi Jews are somehow separate from Caucasians has fueled deadly bigotry for centuries, and the conspiracy of Jewish immunity to tragedy has been part of anti-Semitic attacks as far back as the Black Death and as recently as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. .
Abraham Foxman, who worked for decades as the head of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, condemned “anti-Semitic stereotypes going back to the Middle Ages, which claimed that Jews protected themselves from disease.”
“It can’t be ignorance because he’s not ignorant, so he has to believe it,” Mr Foxman said on Saturday night.
Mr. Kennedy responded to The New York Post story with a defense that only deepened his conspiracy theories. He wrote on Twitter that he had “accurately pointed out” that the US was “developing ethnically targeted bioweapons” – a point he made in his remarks caught on video when he repeated Russian propaganda that the US was collecting DNA in Ukraine for targeting. Russians with tailor-made bioweapons.
Mr Kennedy also linked to a scientific paper in which he said the structure of the Covid-19 virus made black and Caucasian people more susceptible, and “ethnic Chinese, Finns and Ashkenazi Jews” were less susceptible.
But the study he linked to, published in July 2020, early in the pandemic and before effective treatments emerged, made no reference to the Chinese as being more susceptible to the virus, nor did it talk about targeting the virus. It said that one particular receptor for the virus did not appear to be present in Amish and Ashkenazi Jews.
His conclusions were roundly rejected by scientists.
“Jewish or Chinese protease consensus sequences are not an issue in biochemistry, but they are in racism and anti-Semitism,” said Angela Rasmussenvirologist at the University of Saskatchewan.
Mr. Kennedy returned to Twitter just after midnight on Sunday to call accusations of anti-Semitism against him a “disgusting fabrication.”
“I understand the emotional pain that these inaccurate misrepresentations and fabrications have caused to many Jews who recall the blood libels of poison wells and the deliberate spread of disease as the pretext for genocidal programs against their ancestors,” he wrote in a lengthy post. “My father and my uncles, John F. Kennedy and Senator Edward Kennedy, devoted enormous political energies throughout their careers to supporting Israel and combating anti-Semitism. I intend to spend my political career making those family causes my priority.”
Mr Kennedy’s comments are not the first time he has strayed into the intersection of Judaism and Covid. In his zeal to condemn steps to slow the spread of the virus, he spoke last year at an anti-vaccination mandate rally in Washington, saying, “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank,” suggesting that Covid restrictions were worse.
Even his wife, the actress Cheryl Hines, condemned the comment about Anne Frank.
“My husband’s reference to Anne Frank at a mandate rally in DC was reprehensible and insensitive,” she wrote on Twitter.
The anger of Jewish leaders over his Covid remarks was immediate.
The Anti-Defamation League wrote, “The claim that Covid-19 was a bioweapon created by the Chinese or Jews to attack Caucasians and blacks is deeply offensive and feeds into the Sinophobic and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Covid-19 that we have seen develop. the last three years.”
Representative Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey, wrote on Twitter, “RFK Jr. is a disgrace to the Kennedy name and the Democratic Party. For the record, my entire family, who are Jewish, got Covid.”