Anti-Semitic hate speech has risen sharply since pandemic and must be rejected, UN official says

(JTA) — Anti-Semitic hate speech has risen dramatically since the start of the coronavirus crisis and must be rejected, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief said.

“I am extremely concerned to see that certain religious leaders and politicians continue to exploit the challenging times during this pandemic to spread hatred against Jews and other minorities,” Ahmed Shaheed said in a statement released Friday. “We must collectively reject anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance and discrimination now.”

Shaheed highlighted the conspiracy theories claiming that Jews or Israel are responsible for developing and spreading the COVID-19 virus to reduce the non-Jewish population and control the world.

He said all countries must work with Jewish communities and organizations to strengthen the monitoring of hate speech and hate crimes, and develop strategies to support victims of anti-Semitism.

“It is imperative for the civil society organizations and faith-based actors to signal a zero-tolerance policy towards anti-Semitism online and offline,” he said.

Shaheed also called for the removal of social media posts that incite to hatred or violence. He said the mainstream media must identify and report on instances of fake news.