Bintel Blog

Jewish Conspiracy Theories All The Rage in Asia

By Gabrielle Birkner

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Books that purport to chronicle world Jewry’s plot to rule the world are flying off shelves in China and Japan. Such conspiracy theories are also prevalent in Malaysia, the Philippines and, to some extent, throughout Asia, according to a recently published essay by the Anglo-Dutch writer Ian Buruma. But unlike standard-issue Western antisemitism — accusations of Christ-killing, blood libel — the anti-Jewish propaganda in contemporary Asia is not religious in nature, Buruma writes:

“So what explains the remarkable appeal of Jewish conspiracy theories in Asia? The answer must be partly political. Conspiracy theories thrive in relatively closed societies, where free access to news is limited and freedom of inquiry curtailed. Japan is no longer such a closed society, yet even people with a short history of democracy are prone to believe that they are victims of unseen forces. Precisely because Jews are relatively unknown, therefore mysterious, and in some way associated with the West, they become an obvious fixture of anti-Western paranoia.”


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