A conspiracy-filled rant by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that the Covid-19 virus was designed to spare Ashkenazi and Chinese Jews has sparked accusations of anti-Semitism and racism in the Democratic nominee’s long run for president.
“COVID-19. There is a topic that is ethnically targeted. Covid-19 attacks some races disproportionately,” Kennedy said in a private meeting in New York that was captured on videotape from the New York Post. “Covid-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Blacks. The most immune people are the Ashkenazi Jews and the Chinese”.
Mr. Kennedy has made his political career on bogus conspiracy theories not just about the Covid-19 and Covid vaccines, but about the debunked links between common childhood vaccines and autism, mass surveillance and phone technology 5G cellphones, the health effects of Wi-Fi, and a “theft” 2004 election that returned the presidency to George W. Bush.
But his suggestion that the coronavirus pandemic has spared Chinese and Jews of European descent has strayed into new and bigoted territory.
Asian Americans suffered a brutal spate of assaults at the start of the Covid pandemic from people who blamed the Chinese for intentionally releasing the virus into the world. And Mr. Kennedy’s remarks about Ashkenazi Jews strike 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 a deadly fanaticism for centuries, and the conspiracy of Jewish immunity from tragedy has been part of anti-Semitic attacks since the Black Death and recently the 9/11 terrorist attacks. , 2001.
Abraham Foxman, who served for decades as the head of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, has condemned « anti-Semitic stereotypes dating back to the Middle Ages that claimed 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 delved into his conspiracy theories. He wrote on Twitter that he had « accurately pointed out » that the US is « developing ethnically targeted biological weapons » – a point he made in his remarks captured on video, when he repeated Russian propaganda that the US is harvesting DNA in Ukraine to target Russians with custom-made biological weapons.
Mr. Kennedy also linked to a scientific article which he said showed that the structure of the Covid-19 virus made Blacks and Caucasians more susceptible and that « ethnic Chinese, Finnish, and Ashkenazi Jews » were less receptive.
But the studio he linked to, published in July 2020, early in the pandemic and before effective treatments emerged, did not refer to the Chinese as being more receptive to the virus, nor did he speak of targeting the virus. He said a particular receptor for the virus appeared to be missing in Amish and Ashkenazi Jews.
His conclusions have been categorically rejected by scientists.
« Jewish or Chinese protease consensus sequences are not a thing in biochemistry, but they are in racism and anti-Semitism, » Angela Rasmussen saida virologist at the University of Saskatchewan.
Mr. Kennedy returned to Twitter just after midnight on Sunday to call the anti-Semitism allegations against him « a disgusting fabrication ».
“I understand the emotional pain these distortions and inaccurate fabrications have caused many Jews who remember the blood libels of poison wells and the deliberate spread of disease as a 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, have devoted enormous political energy throughout their careers to supporting Israel and fighting anti-Semitism. I intend to spend my political career making those family causes my priority. »
Mr. Kennedy’s comments aren’t the first time he’s gotten lost at the intersection of Judaism and Covid. In his zeal in condemning steps to stem the spread of the virus, he he spoke to an anti-vaccination mandate last year rally in Washington, saying: “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps and enter Switzerland. You could be hiding in an attic like Anne Frank did,” suggesting Covid restrictions were worse.
His wife, actress Cheryl Hines, also condemned the Anne Frank comment.
« My husband’s reference to Anne Frank at a mandate rally in Washington was reprehensible and insensitive, » she wrote on Twitter.
The anger of Jewish leaders at his Covid remarks was immediate.
The Anti-Defamation League wrote: « The claim that Covid-19 was a biological weapon created by Chinese or Jews to attack Caucasians and Blacks is deeply offensive and fuels Sinophobic and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Covid-19 that we have seen evolve over the last three years”.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey, wrote on Twitter, “RFK Jr. is a disgrace to the Kennedy name and to the Democratic Party. For the record, my entire family, who are Jewish, contracted Covid. »