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Since Oct. 7, antisemitism has exploded online in China. Here’s why.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (JTA) — Growing up as a Bukharian Jew in China, Uriah was always told by his parents to hide his Jewishness in public and to try to assimilate into the greater Chinese population.

Uriah — who asked to be identified only by his Hebrew name to ensure the safety of his family — said that when he began publicly talking about his Jewish identity, people told him that he would “never be one of us [Han Chinese].”

But Uriah had never felt physically or personally threatened until the aftermath of Oct. 7, when Hamas killed over 1,400 Israelis in an incursion, sparking a war with Israel that has killed thousands in Gaza.

Online, he saw people taunting the parents of Noa Argamani, the half-Chinese Israeli-born captive who was seen being kidnapped by Hamas in a viral video. People cursed her Chinese-born mother for asking China for help.

Then friends and acquaintances started taunting Uriah and his family members, sending them antisemitic social media posts and messages saying Argamani was rightfully captured by Hamas fighters, he said.

“Is China even going to be a safe place for, say, Jewish businessmen who are known to be Jewish? Will there be hostility verbally, or even physically? In the past, my answer was no, but now I’m not sure,” he said.

After Oct. 7, China’s internet — from message boards to video platforms to social media — suddenly flooded with viciously anti-Israel and antisemitic comments. Pointing to Israel’s actions against the Palestinians, people have said things ranging from support for Hitler and Nazi Germany to the idea that oppressed Jews have become oppressive Nazis.

Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust classic “Schindler’s List,” which has been widely loved in China, was review-bombed so heavily on the video platform Bilibili that its rating declined from 9.7 to 4.3. “Where is the Palestinian Schindler?” read one highly-rated comment.

Commenting became so intense that Israeli and German embassy accounts on Weibo, China’s popular microblogging platform, began filtering responses to some posts.

“We believe in the power of free speech and rational debate… But all this is not without limitations: invective that is degrading to human dignity will be deleted,” the German embassy wrote. “We also want to make it clear that those who deliberately combine the Israeli flag with Nazi symbols in their profile pictures are either ignorant idiots or shameless bastards! Such accounts will be permanently blocked by us.”

It’s not just a phenomenon on social media. State media, such as the Chinese Communist Party-backed national news broadcaster CCTV, claimed that “Jews represent just 3% of the American population but control 70% of its wealth … these factors can be used to exert incomparable influence on politics.” The CCTV video has since been removed, but the hashtag “Jews represent just 3% of the American population but control 70% of its wealth” became a “hot topic” on Weibo, and that unfounded statistic has appeared numerous times in other social media posts seeking to pin the responsibility for the current war against Hamas on a global Jewish conspiracy.

How “philosemitism” can turn into antisemitism

Judaism is not one of China’s five recognized religions, meaning the identity of Chinese Jews like Uriah or the historic community in Kaifeng is not recognized as legitimate. But Jews — who in China are closely associated with the West, especially America — have long been revered in China, where centuries-old stereotypes are common — such as the conspiracy theory that Jews have control over American institutions from Wall Street and the media.

It’s not just about money and power: the Chinese have historically looked to Jews as a sort of mirror of themselves, a down-and-out nation that survived extreme adversity and rose to a position of power and prominence against the odds.

These stereotypes are portrayed in a positive light and are often referred to as “philosemitic.” Jews here have talked about getting everything from free taxi rides to compliments about their intelligence. Bookstores carry self-help books about how to be more like the “successful” Jews. Chinese philosemitic sentiment has been embraced by both Israeli and Chinese governments throughout the development of diplomatic relations, scholars have noted.

But the line between philo- and antisemitism can be thin. Unlike in the West, where antisemitism is a centuries-old, deeply ingrained tradition, Jewish conspiracy theories are a relatively new phenomenon in China. Even “positive” racial stereotypes have the potential to turn negative, especially in the context of heightened anti-Western sentiment in China in recent decades, says Mary J. Ainslie of the University of Nottingham at Ningbo.

As influencer Lu Kewen described in a viral 8,000-word WeChat post in 2021: “The image of Jews in China was once that of saints preparing to save the common people: firm, holy, intelligent, rich and kindhearted while full of trauma.” Though after learning more about the history of “various countries,” Lu wrote, “Jewish names kept coming up … after classifying them and analyzing their behaviors, my impression of Jews slowly changed.” His screed included passages copied and pasted from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

The free propagation of Jewish conspiracy theories despite China’s powerful censorship machine indicates an endorsement by the party-state, which has been hurling blame at the United States for the war in Israel through its state media.

“There is a notice here that stereotyping of Jewish people, particularly negative stereotyping of Jewish people, is actually quite a force online. And because conspiratorial discourses are encouraged by the state and are often actually connected to the state, this is something that [authorities are] not willing to perhaps challenge,” Ainslie said.

At a press conference last week, in response to a question on reports of antisemitism on Chinese social media, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin reiterated China’s stance on the conflict — which calls for a two-state solution — adding that “China’s laws unequivocally prohibit disseminating information on extremism, ethnic hatred, discrimination and violence via the internet.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, June 14, 2023. China has sought to play a larger role in Middle East peace negotiations. (Palestinian Presidency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

China-Israel ties are at a low

China has cultivated a strong economic relationship with Israel since establishing ties in 1992, often referencing the “1,000-year” friendship between the Chinese and Jewish people and the thousands of Jewish refugees who found refuge in Shanghai during World War II. China today remains Israel’s second-largest trading partner behind the United States.

In June, in a sign of warming ties, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. politicians that he planned to visit Beijing in the near future. He felt compelled to issue a statement emphasizing that “the US will always be Israel’s most vital ally and irreplaceable ally.” (That visit now seems unlikely.)

But China has historically also had a close relationship with Palestinian leaders dating back to the Mao era. The country has shown that it additionally wants to play a bigger role in the Middle East peace process in recent years.

Since Oct. 7, China has not specifically condemned Hamas’ attack on Israel or labeled it as terrorism, leading to deep disappointment and frustration from Israel. Unlike many Western nations, China does not categorize Hamas as a terrorist organization.

On Thursday, Israel’s representative to Taiwan called China’s hesitance to condemn Hamas’ attack “very disturbing.” China has also released little information about the stabbing of an Israeli diplomat’s spouse in Beijing, though police said the attacker was a foreigner.

Instead, China has repeatedly called for restraint on both sides and for a two-state solution to be reached with the help of the United Nations. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has also said Israel had gone “beyond self-defense.”

China has additionally courted support in the Arab League, to the extent that several countries in it have begun rejecting international concerns about human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum said the Chinese government “may be committing genocide” in the region, where the Uyghurs have reportedly been subject to mass imprisonment and forced labor.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in June that China’s actions in Xinjiang are aimed at combating terrorism and have “nothing to do with human rights” abuses.

Plenty of Chinese still support Jews and Israel

Viral social media posts do not necessarily determine the public opinion of the average Chinese, and the topic of antisemitism in China remains understudied. Condemnations of antisemitism in response to the recent phenomenon in China’s cyberspace do exist — many users have condemned Hamas’ terrorism and questioned their government’s response to the conflict.

Pro-Israel sentiment exists, too. Israel has also long been a subject of admiration in China for its rich culture and strong educational and tech sectors that many entrepreneurs have tried to buy into or replicate.

Many Chinese express their support for the Jewish state on the Israeli embassy in China’s Weibo posts. “Support Israel! Annihilate the terrorist organization!” one recent comment reads.

In a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Ping Zhang, a professor of East Asian studies at Tel Aviv University, said his attempts to explain to Israeli friends that “‘there are still many Chinese who support Israel’ basically received little response.”

“The goodwill caused by 1,000 Chinese voices friendly to Israel is not worth the damage caused by one antisemitic statement,” he wrote. “Simply put, the foundation of the good relationship built between the two sides over the past three decades has been shattered.”


The post Since Oct. 7, antisemitism has exploded online in China. Here’s why. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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White House Calls Netanyahu’s Comments on US Weapons Deliveries ‘Perplexing,’ ‘Disappointing’

US White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, June 17, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

The White House expressed “deep disappointment” over criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the United States on Thursday amid tensions between the two allies over Israel‘s war in Gaza.

“It was perplexing to say the least, certainly disappointing, especially given that no other country is doing more to help Israel defend itself against the threat by Hamas,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

The White House response came as national security adviser Jake Sullivan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken planned meetings with Netanyahu’s two top aides to discuss the Gaza conflict.

Netanyahu on Tuesday issued an English-language video in which he said Blinken had assured him that the Biden administration was working to lift restrictions on arms deliveries to Israel, an exchange the top US diplomat declined to confirm.

In a rare account of normally private diplomatic conversations, Netanyahu also said he told Blinken that it was “inconceivable” that in the past few months Washington was withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel.

Kirby addressed the comments in a briefing with reporters, saying the US had directly expressed displeasure to Israel.

“I think we’ve made it abundantly clear to our Israeli counterparts through various vehicles our deep disappointment in the statements expressed in that video and our concerns over the accuracy in the statements made,” Kirby said.

“The idea that we had somehow stopped helping Israel with their self-defense needs is absolutely not accurate,” he said.

Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Ron Dermer, Israel‘s minister for strategic affairs, will speak with Sullivan as a larger, more formal “strategic dialogue” meeting was being rescheduled, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Blinken will meet with the Israelis at 3 pm, according to a senior State Department official.

Blinken said weapons shipments — with the exception of one with 2,000-pound bombs — were moving as usual given Israel faced security threats beyond Gaza, including from Hezbollah and Iran. He declined to comment on his private exchange with Netanyahu during a news conference on Tuesday.

The United States in May paused a shipment of 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs due to concern over the impact they could have in densely populated areas but Israel was still due to get billions of dollars worth of US weaponry.

Scrutiny on Israel‘s conduct in its military operation in Gaza has increased as the Palestinian death toll from the war in the Hamas-run enclave has increased. Israeli officials argue they have gone to unprecedented lengths to try and avoid civilian casualties, noting Hamas terrorists embed themselves within the larger population and use civilian sites as military operation centers.

The war started when Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists stormed across the border and attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage.

Biden in April warned Israel that the US would stop supplying it weapons if Israeli forces launch a large-scale offensive in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza that is considered the last major bastion of Hamas.

The post White House Calls Netanyahu’s Comments on US Weapons Deliveries ‘Perplexing,’ ‘Disappointing’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israeli Actress Shira Haas Wins Award for Role in Upcoming TV Series ‘Night Therapy’

Shira Haas on the set of “Night Therapy.” Photo: Nati Levi

Israeli actress Shira Haas was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Monte Carlo Television Festival on Tuesday night for her role in an upcoming Israeli television series titled “Night Therapy” that will premiere later this month.

Haas stars in the 10-part psychological drama alongside Yousef Sweid (“Munich Games,” “Game of Thrones”), as well as Lucy Ayoub, Yaakov Zada Daniel, and Firas Nassar, all of whom have starred in the popular Israeli series “Fauda.”

Haas, who accepted her award from the Monte Carlo Television Festival via video because she was in the United States filming, took to Instagram to thank the festival for her award.

“This is such a special project for me, a personal and genuinely (ongoing) healing one, and I can’t wait for you all to meet Yasmin very soon,” she wrote, referencing her character’s name in the show.

Written and created by Raanan Caspi, “Night Therapy” is about an Arab-Israeli psychologist named Louie (Sweid) who struggles to raise his two children after his Jewish-Israeli wife commits suicide. To be more present for his children during the day and to better balance his work and home life, Louie decides to shift his practice so he sees patients at night. Haas plays one of his patients — a computer genius named Yasmin who rarely leaves her home and prefers to spend her time in the virtual world instead of the real one.

“Through the gateway and magic of the late clinic hours, and flashback scenes where Louie acts as an unseen observer to their problems, the series depicts refreshing points of view on life, which often require unusual treatments,” according to a synopsis provided by Yes Studios, which is distributing the show. “Combining absorbing therapy sessions — written with the input of practicing psychologists — with storylines and characters from Louie’s personal life, ‘Night Therapy’ is a touching, emotional and sexy new drama series.”

The show premieres on Yes TV in Israel on June 30 and is being sold internationally by Yes Studios. The series is directed by Gabriel Bibliowicz and produced by Dafna Danenberg, Aviram Avraham, and Benny Menache at Eight Productions.

Haas previously had starring roles in the hit Israeli television series “Shtisel” as well as the film “Unorthodox,” for which she won an award. She also became the first Israeli television actress nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in “Unorthodox.” Haas Tribeca Film Festival for starring in “Asia,” in which she played a terminally ill character, and additionally won two best supporting actress awards at the Israeli Academy Awards. She is reportedly scheduled to appear in Marvel’s upcoming film “Captain America: Brave New World” as an Israeli superhero named Sabra.

The post Israeli Actress Shira Haas Wins Award for Role in Upcoming TV Series ‘Night Therapy’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Swiss Museum Sells Monet Painting in Settlement With Heirs of Former Jewish Owner Forced to Sell Artwork During WWII

A partial view of Monet’s “L’Homme à l’ombrelle.” Photo: Kunsthaus Zürich via Wikimedia Commons

The largest art museum in Switzerland announced on Wednesday that it is selling a painting by Claude Monet as part of an agreement with heirs of the artwork’s original Jewish owner, who was forced to sell it during World War II when he fled Nazi Germany.

The Kunsthaus Zürich said it reached a “fair and just solution” and “amicable settlement” with the heirs of Jewish entrepreneur Carl Sachs regarding the painting “L’Homme à l’ombrelle” (“Man with a Parasol”) from the late 19th century. Proceeds from the sale will be allocated between the museum and Sachs’ family.

Sachs and his wife fled Nazi persecution in Germany and moved to Switzerland in 1939. He was forced to sell “L’Homme à l’ombrelle,” and several other pieces from his art collection, to the Kunsthaus Zürich in order to make a living. “The sale of Monet’s ‘L’Homme à l’ombrelle’ to the Kunsthaus Zürich was the first work that Sachs had to sell due to the acute financial emergency just a few weeks after fleeing Nazi Germany to Switzerland,” the museum explained.

“A swift sale was needed to provide the couple with money to live on, and he was therefore acting under duress,” the Kunsthaus Zürich said. Sachs died shortly afterward in December 1943 and by that point he had sold 13 artworks from his collection.

Philipp Hildebrand, the chair of Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft, said: “Of course we regret that this wonderful painting will leave the Kunsthaus. At the same time, this step underpins the seriousness of our provenance strategy and our fundamental attitude towards a transparent and solution-oriented approach to works in our collection in which there are substantiated references to Nazis [or] there is a situation of a persecution-related predicament.”

The post Swiss Museum Sells Monet Painting in Settlement With Heirs of Former Jewish Owner Forced to Sell Artwork During WWII first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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