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Zelenskyy, ‘Denazification’ and the Redirection of Holocaust Victimhood

Antisemitic conspiracy theories about President Zelenskyy have certainly not been limited to the extreme-right. Across the ideological spectrum, conspiracy theorists have utilised Zelenkyy’s Jewish heritage to denote him as a puppet of the mainstream media or foreign governments, all rooted in the same traditional antisemitic tropes.

As with many global crises, the online far-right is attempting to frame Russia’s invasion of Ukraine through their existing worldview. Indeed, far-right conspiracy theorists have reacted to the war by doing what they do best; conspire and theorise.

Antisemitism remains a central component of the extreme-right worldview. Conspiracy theories such as the Great Replacement are motivated by the same form of antisemitism which has existed for centuries. At its root, an inherent mistrust of Jews, an accusation of ulterior motives, and an assumption of greed for money or power. It is well known that this is what led a terrorist to attack the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; not just his hatred for Muslims and refugees, but his conspiracy that pulling the strings behind perceived population change is a monolithic, all-powerful Jewish force.

Turning their attention to the war in Ukraine, many on the extreme-right have noted the outward Jewish identity of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Combined with Putin’s ‘de-nazification’ narrative, together they provide the extreme-right with the perfect strawman around which to centre their latest antisemitic conspiracy. [...]

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