Australia/Israel Review

Ukraine war inevitably sparks antisemitism

Apr 1, 2022 | Judy Maynard

Antisemites have seized on Ukrainian President Zelensky’s Jewishness to make him a central figure in their hateful narratives (Image: Shutterstock)
Antisemites have seized on Ukrainian President Zelensky’s Jewishness to make him a central figure in their hateful narratives (Image: Shutterstock)

It seems no major conflict or serious incident occurs in the world today that is not seen as fertile ground for exploitation by antisemites. The origins of the war between Russia and Ukraine have virtually nothing to do with Jews or Israel, yet both the Jewish people and the Jewish state have been caught in a crossfire of slander amongst very diverse opponents.

That Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish has presented antisemites with the opportunity to deploy this fact in their hateful narratives. Unsurprisingly many of these claims have emanated from the Middle East.

Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, a member of the Houthi Supreme Political Council in Yemen, was straightforward in explaining the war: where you have Jews, you have malignancy. He told the Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen that what has happened to Ukraine “is the result of the evil-doing of the Jews. This is proof that when a Jew is the leader of a country, it results in war.” He expressed concern that Russia was “being dragged into this war” in order to exhaust its power and allow America to become omnipotent.

More byzantine – and largely incomprehensible – is the analysis by Gamal Roshdy, which appeared in Egyptian newspaper Al Wafd:

All the wars, conflicts and epidemics in the world, since before the First World War until now, are arranged and manufactured by global Zionism: the fall of the British Empire on which the sun did not set, and the emergence of America as a superpower, all of this is in a great Zionist arrangement.

… the current president of Ukraine is a Jew and was a comedian, and Zionism set up his position with all his government men in Ukraine…I am certain that Russia’s leaders know the dimensions of the scheme… the Zionist scheme… plans a nuclear clash between NATO and Russia for total mass destruction…

For good measure Roshdy then seems to imply that the Zionists are responsible for COVID-19, which, he said, is on its last legs with “only a percentage of Zionist goals… achieved”, thus supposedly fuelling the need for the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Another convoluted fantasy was written by Mowafak Mahadin – who appears to be president of the Jordanian Writers Association – and published in a Houthi newspaper. It appeared to blame both Jews and Turkey for the war – though of course it said Turkey is also secretly run by Jews, as are the Arab Gulf states: 

News agencies that are subject to the whims of the imperialist, reactionary and Zionist intelligence reported that the Atlantic and Turkish intelligence began assembling Erdogan and Uyghur mercenaries in Syria to send them to Ukraine to participate in stopping the Russian advance on the ruling Jewish protectorate in Kyiv…

It is not a coincidence that the declared and disguised Ukrainian Jews made an alliance with the “Abrahamian” Gulf Jews and the Turkish Donma Jews who, like Ukraine, dominate the government in Ankara.

Meanwhile, in Turkey, on March 7, Yigit Bulut, a leading adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, posted a comment on Twitter vilifying Ukraine’s Jewish president: “Let’s talk about the reality of Zelensky, supported by [Jewish billionaire George] Soros, leading the Ukrainian people to death, Israel-push Zelensky tomorrow, a country and its people are being thrown away, let’s look at the reality, not the perceived!!”

On March 5, Egyptian Islamic scholar Sheikh Zaghloul Al-Naggar appeared on a Muslim Brotherhood TV channel based in Turkey, and was asked his view of the appeal by President Zelensky to the Mufti of Ukraine to pray for Allah to protect his country.

He responded with the non-sequitur “Obviously, this position is completely false. [Zelensky] is a Zionist extremist, whose positions about the Palestinian cause are very negative, which are devoid of justice and humanity. So how can he ask the Muslims in his country to pray for the victory of Ukraine? This is clear hypocrisy.”

It seems Al-Naggar cannot fathom Ukrainian Muslims praying for their own nation’s victory, and their own safety, if the request to do so came from a “Zionist”. 

Lebanon’s ‘Imad Rizq, said to be a “researcher”, falsely told the audience on Hezbollah-owned Lebanese television station Al-Manar on March 1 that Ukraine’s President holds Israeli citizenship.

Rizq characterised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “part of a conflict between Ukrainian Jews and Russian Jews,” although is not clear how Russian President Putin fits into this scenario. Perhaps Rizq thinks he’s also Jewish.

Such nonsense is of a piece with an interview Rizq gave on Iranian TV station Al-Alam in 2014, in which he stated that “The Jews have always created existential crises for the others… They would buy wars in which to embroil other nations. The Jews would always weaken the other nations and then come to their rescue.”

A different conspiracy appeared in the Qatari state daily Al-Watan in a March 13 piece by Palestinian journalist Samir al-Barghouti. This article is notable both for the unique suggestion that large numbers of Jews will emigrate from Israel to Ukraine – audaciously at odds with the usual Palestinian complaint concerning Jewish immigration to Israel – and for the sheer number of antisemitic conspiracy theories which al-Barghouti managed to cram in. 

Al-Barghouti wrote that “Putin’s stated reason for launching the all-out war [against Ukraine] is [his demand] that Ukraine be a neutral country and his opposition to the presence of NATO forces on the Russian border. But [the real reason,] which is presently secret, is the Jewish immigration to Ukraine, which started recently, and the [Jewish] declaration that the sanctity of Jerusalem will be transferred to the sky of Kiev. The meaning of this is the arrival of a nation that Putin knows is dangerous, and President Putin, who came from [Russian] intelligence, will not allow those who are harming the US and Europe to harm Russia [as well].”

Al-Barghouti goes on to assert that Putin knows or believes that the Jews executed Tsar Nicholas II; financed Lenin and Stalin; own the US Federal Bank; bankrolled Napoleon; caused the deaths of 26 million out of the 62 million Russians killed in the Gulag; were behind the assassinations of American presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy; were responsible for the destruction of the World Trade Centre; and “stole the gold of the Chinese emperors.”

Meanwhile, Syrian President and Putin ally Bashar al-Assad referred to Ukrainian President Zelensky as “a Zionist Jew” who “supports the Nazis that killed the Jews” in a speech.


The Conspiratorial Far Right

Dr Sherri Tenpenny, an osteopath from Ohio, is an anti-vaxxer who has been named as one of the most prolific spreaders of false information about COVID-19 vaccinations. She has also used popular messaging application Telegram for antisemitic posts mentioning Jewish figures such as the Rothschild family and Jewish billionaire George Soros, some in the context of alleged world domination, and shared an interview in which Bishop Richard Williamson denied that Jews were gassed during “the quote-unquote Holocaust.”

Recently she quoted a Holocaust-denial Telegram channel, EndTimesNewz: “Whilst everyone is distracted by the events in (((Ukraine))), the (((WHO))) [World Health Organisation] is ramming through an international treaty on ‘pandemic’ procedures.” This was followed in bold by “Same tribe every time” and a Star of David emoji.

Triple parentheses are used on social media as an antisemitic symbol intended to indicate that those thereby identified are of Jewish background or owned by Jews – in this case, nonsensically, Ukraine and WHO.

Although united by their common goal of smearing Jews, even amongst white supremacists there is no common agreement as to which side to support. 

In an article in The Daily Beast titled “White Nationalists Are Tearing Each Other Apart Over Ukraine,” Mark Hay points out this lack of agreement across far-right groups. 

He notes that for some, Vladimir Putin is a champion of white Christian nationalism and steadfast defender against “globalist” (i.e. Jewish) schemes. The title of a March 8 episode of the internet show of US conspiracy theorist Stew Peters sums this up: “International Conspiracy: Globalist Zelensky Installed To Wage War Between Christians”.

Others stand with Ukraine, though not necessarily its government and Jewish president, seeing Putin’s stated (but spurious) claim of aspiring to “denazify” Ukraine as an attack on their own ideals, and his invasion of Ukraine as a betrayal of national self-determination. Many of these see Putin – or “Jewtin” – as controlled by Jewish Russian oligarchs, or even as a secret Jew himself.

Many white nationalists also decry this so-called “brother war”, and claim Jews instigated it for the purpose of destroying white Europeans. 

Similarly, former Vatican envoy and papal nuncio to the US, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, warned that the conflict is a “trap for Russia just as much as Ukraine, using both to allow a globalist elite to bring its criminal plot to fruition.”

The extent to which Jew-hatred has coalesced around the war between Russia and Ukraine – as it seems to do with all major international events – and the amazing variety of bizarre justifications cited for this, are both astonishing and frightening.


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