The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), which monitors online hate and terrorism, is calling on Telegram and other social platforms to remove posts targeting Jews.
“This is exactly the breeding ground for extremists,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC’s associate dean and director of global social action, told Fox News.
One example of a post circulating on Telegram, highlighted by SWC in its study “Deadly New Virus Intersects with History’s Oldest Hate: Report and Analysis,” shows an image of the coronavirus with the words: “Holocough: If you have the bug, give a hug, spread the flu, to every Jew.”
The posts, many of which SWC is not publishing, are being used to create and direct anger at Jews, Cooper says, “both to incite lone wolf-type of attacks, God forbid, one-on-one, and to demonize a community.”
“It’s a hot spot in which extremists can promote and communicate with each other,” Cooper said of Telegram. “While they occasionally take things off, I’m not holding my breath that we’re going to get any positive results.”
Cooper has reached out to the Justice Department and is calling on the FBI and local law enforcement to be aware of the issue and take action where necessary, especially in light of the recent uptick of anti-Semitic incidents in New York and New Jersey.
“The Coronavirus Pandemic may be new, but Jews have a long and tragic history of being accused of spreading deadly viruses,” the new report states.
In addition to anti-Semitism, there is reportedly an uptick in hate crimes against Asian Americans amid the spread of the virus that originated in Wuhan, China.
“This is not about demonizing the people of China, they were the first victims, or allowing for a sense of anger or panic or worse to fester against Asian Americans, that would be worse,” Cooper explained.
“But what it shows [is that] in a time of uncertainty and fear, people naturally look for a scapegoat or an outlet for their anger…or they have a predisposition, they might hate Asians or Jews, and use this as an excuse…this is indicative of the climate.”