Dolphin espionage? Magic vegetables?
Last week, the British Labour party suspended Musabbir Ali, a former campaign official, for making anti-Semitic statements on social media. He joined an ignominious cast of characters punished for similar offenses, including a former mayor of London and a current parliament member. But Ali distinguished himself with his particularly creative brand of anti-Semitism.
On Twitter, among other bigoted bromides, he shared a link to a post claiming that the Jews had “financed Oliver Cromwell’s overthrowing and beheading of Stuart King Charles I after he refused them control of England’s finances.” This extraordinary assertion overlooked one minor detail: Jews were expelled from England in 1290 and could not legally return until 1657, years after Cromwell came to power.
Ali’s ahistorical absurdity highlighted an underappreciated aspect of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories: In addition to being hateful and ignorant, they are often hilarious.
In that spirit, I’d like to pay tribute to the most ridiculous anti-Jewish fulminations I’ve come across in my years covering them. These eruptions of inspired idiocy span centuries and continents, from America to Europe to the Middle East. They implicate the Jews and the Jewish state, as well as Monica Lewinsky and the animal kingdom, in their nefarious plots. And they frequently interchange “Zionist” for “Jew” in comically inept attempts to obscure their bigotry.
In other words, it’s a collection that should satisfy any connoisseur of fine anti-Semitism.
Last June, Asghar Bukhari, a founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee in Britain, did something we all do: He misplaced one of his shoes. Then he did something none of us do: He blamed it on the Jews. “ARE ZIONISTS TRYING TO INTIMIDATE ME?” he asked on Facebook. “Someone came into my home yesterday while I was asleep. I don’t know how they got in, but they didn’t break in—the only thing they took was one shoe. Now think about that, the only thing they took was a single shoe—they left one shoe behind to let me know someone had been there.”
Of course I can’t prove anything and that’s part of the intimidation,” he continued. “The game is simple—to make me feel vulnerable in my own home. It’s psychological. Neither can I do much about it.”
There is one good thing that comes out of all oppression however—for those who are smart—from my misfortune, others can learn how they operate. Share this widely, for if it is happening to me, I am sure it is happening to many, many others who have not exposed it.”
Bukhari’s rant was indeed shared widely, but not for the reasons he had hoped. It soon spawned the immortal hashtag #MossadStoleMyShoe.
Bukhari, however, was undeterred by the ridicule and posted a 15-minute video doubling down on his accusation.
The Jews and Their Secret Magic Vegetable
In 2008, Vanity Fair correspondent Amy Fine Collins published a meditation on her Jewish identity. In it, she recounted a friend’s trip to Zagorsk, Russia. “[T]roubled by the anti-Semitism he encountered there,” she wrote, “my friend Andrew Solomon asked a local peasant why, in his estimation, there was such antipathy everywhere against Jews. Without a moment’s hesitation, the peasant answered, in Russian: ‘It is because the Jews have a secret vegetable they eat so they don’t become alcoholics like the rest of us. And they refuse to share that vegetable with anyone else.’ ”
If this particular anti-Semitic conspiracy seems too idiosyncratic and detailed to have been invented on the spot, it’s because it wasn’t. In 1967, Rutgers professor and alcohol researcher Mark Keller delivered a later-published talk at the university Hillel that traced this myth back centuries, to stories about a Russian folk hero called “Golovan”:
Mystical power were attributed to Golovan. He was supposed to have acquired the bezoar stone, which warded off the plague. Because he used his powers only for good, his irreligiosity was tolerated. Even such “un-Christian behavior” as giving milk to the Jew Yushka was overlooked, since the peasants assumed his motive was to extract from the Jews their two valuable secrets: that of the Judas lips, which enable one to speak falsehood in court; and that of the hairy vegetable, which enabled the Jews to drink without getting drunk!
It is undoubtedly a testament to the fortitude of the Jews that despite centuries of intense persecution, they have refused to divulge the identity of this magical herb.
Monica Lewinsky, Zionist Agent
In April, Monica Lewinsky attended a Forbes conference in Israel, where she posted a photo of herself standing in front of the Western Wall.
Little did she know that this innocent picture was likely to set off alarm bells among anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists—because some of them believe the former White House intern was a Zionist agent sent by Benjamin Netanyahu to derail Bill Clinton’s presidency... Read more