Antisemitism and new versions of ancient blood libels against the Jews are alive and well in the age of Corona. Almost 20% of Britons believe that “Jews” are behind the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey by Oxford University revealed. According to a university statement, the survey sought to test public attitudes toward various coronavirus conspiracy theories. One of the statements given was “Jews have created the virus to collapse the economy for financial gain.”
A full 80.7% said they “do not agree” with the idea that the Jews are behind the pandemic.
The numbers were similar in regard to other conspiracy theories that blamed Muslims, Bill Gates, the World Health Organization, and politicians for the outbreak.
The conspiracy theory that was the most substantially popular was that the coronavirus is a “bioweapon developed by China to destroy the West,” with almost half of those surveyed agreeing to some extent.
Daniel Freeman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford, who led the team that conducted the study, said, “The epidemic has all the necessary ingredients for the growth of conspiracy theories, including sustained threat, exposure of vulnerabilities, and enforced change.”
“The new conspiracy ideas have largely built on previous prejudices and conspiracy theories,” he stated. “The beliefs look to be corrosive to our necessary collective response to the crisis. In the wake of the epidemic, mistrust looks to have become mainstream.”
Dr Sinéad Lambe, a clinical psychologist, pointed to social media as a major factor in the popularity of coronavirus conspiracy theories, saying, “Conspiracy beliefs arguably travel further and faster than ever before. Our survey indicates that people who hold such beliefs share them; social media provides a ready-made platform.”