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article imageWhy are Jews and Israel central to major conspiracy theories?

By Lesley Lanir     May 3, 2013 in World
Tel Aviv - Tragedies and horrific events such as the Boston Marathon bombings, the murder of 20 children in Sandy Hook, or 9/11 seem to create "a cottage industry" of conspiracies claiming that Jews or Israelis are behind these terrible incidents.
The Times of Israel today published an article Why do Jews and Israel so often feature at center of conspiracy theories? that begins by referring to Beliefs About Sandy Hook Cover-Up, Coming Revolution Divided on Gun Control a study dated May 1st, in which findings show that one-quarter (25 percent) of Americans believe that the US government or media have not revealed all the facts behind the shooting and an additional 11% are unsure.
The Times of Israel quote Farleigh Dickinson University professor Dan Cassino, who commissioned the poll as saying, "That is a terrifying number." He continues to say that we may deride these theories but "they seem to have found an audience."
The article then indicates how Israel and Jews become the centre of some major conspiracy stories.
Sandy Hook conspiracy
A popular Sandy Hook conspiracy theory blames “Israeli death squads” for the massacre of 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It is said that Iran’s Press TV promoted an opinion piece by an extremist called Mike Harris from Veterans Today, a site that is claimed to be "a clearinghouse of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories."
Boston Marathon Bombings
Quite quickly conspiracy theories were published around accusing Jews and Israelis of organising the bombings. The Times claim that the website, NoDisInfo, uploaded an article “Zionist Jews Strike Again, Murdering Three in Boston” not long after the attack. NoDisInfo also blamed the Jews for the Sandy Hook massacre.
Richard Falk, a top official on the UN Human Rights Council, known for his anti-Israel extremism, blamed the tragedy on US and Israeli policies.
World Trade Tower Bombing
On September 11, 2001 terrorists bombed the World Trade Towers. Since then there have been many conspiracy theories about it.
wikimedia commons
Richard Falk, doubted the “official” version of 9/11.
On a foreign affairs website he is quoted as saying, “As long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment, those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy.”
The Times paraphrases Cassino when posing the question 'Why are Jews frequently the subject of conspiracy theories?' He says, "Jews are blamed for misfortunes today for much the same reason they’ve been blamed for centuries."
They quote him as saying:
“There is a perception of Jews as the Other — a part of society, but still somehow foreign. Couple that with resentment over Jewish success in certain areas of society, and they’ll be blamed for things that are otherwise just ineffable.”
The article then turns to to Michael Barkun, a Syracuse University professor emeritus to understand what causes conspiracy theorists to come up with their theories. He says, "They are guided by three main beliefs: nothing happens by accident; everything is connected; and nothing is as it seems."
Tin Foil Hat
Tin Foil Hats are for conspiracy theorists
by jspaw
The Times asked Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center what his thoughts are on why people come up with conspiracy theories; He is quoted as saying, “Conspiracy theories are the way weak minds deal with complex situations.” Potok calls America “probably the most conspiracy-oriented country in the world” and he claims it has become worse in recent years.
The Internet is pointed at as the main reason why there has been an upsurge in conspiracy theories and Cassino agrees saying, “The Internet plays a huge role in the promulgation and acceptance of these theories.” "On the Internet, [ ] the story put out by real journalists from a credible source and the story put out by the tinfoil-hat crowd look exactly the same.”
So how do Israelis view the conspiracies? I asked an Israeli what he thought of the continual barrage of conspiracy theories. He said, "Funny and sad. Pity people don't have anything better to do in their lives and it's also a pity that they seem to make a habit of avoiding any news that promotes the good things that Israel does."
He may be referring to articles such as this one, Disabled Gaza toddler lives at Israeli hospital. Or maybe another conspiracy theory can evolve from this article too?
More about Jews, Israel, Conspiracy theories, boston marathon, 911
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