A Kennedy spokesperson strongly denied he was antisemitic in a statement sent to Newsweek that read: “Mr. Kennedy did not say and does not mean to imply that the COVID-19 virus was targeted to spare Jews. That characterization of his remarks is a malicious and inflammatory smear. Mr. Kennedy is a staunch supporter of the state of Israel and the Jewish people. He categorically repudiates the disgusting conspiracy theory falsely attributed to him.
“Mr. Kennedy does not believe that COVID-19 was ‘manufactured to target a specific ethnic group.’ He was only using that example to illustrate that such a thing is possible, and should be prevented.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), data as of June 28 showed 1.13 million people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19.
The CDC figures show 66 percent of deaths were among non-Hispanic whites, 15 percent were of people of Hispanic origin, 14 percent were Black and 3 percent were listed as non-Hispanic Asian. No separate data was available for Jewish Americans.
Data from England and Wales taken in the early phase of the pandemic indicated Jews in Britain were more greatly impacted when adjusted for population.
Between March 2 to May 15, 2020, 453 people who identified as Jewish died due to COVID-19 making up 1.2 percent of all deaths.
The U.K. Office for National Statistics at the time said: “When taking account of region, population density, socio-demographic and household characteristics, and ethnic background, those who identified as Jewish at the time of the 2011 Census showed an increased risk of a death involving COVID-19 compared with the Christian population; Jewish males were at twice the risk of Christian males, with the difference in females being 1.2 times greater risk.”
“Last year, RFK Jr. was forced to apologize for invoking Anne Frank to say COVID restrictions were less severe than Nazi Germany’s,” Stop Antisemitism told Newsweek.
“A few months ago, RFK Jr. defended ASOTW [‘antisemite of the week’] Roger Waters after his Nazi-inspired Berlin performance, calling him a “global hero.”
“And just weeks before his Congressional testimony, RFK Jr. met with ASOTW rapper Ice Cube, a supporter of the Black Hebrew Israelites hate group. This pattern of associating with known antisemites belies any apology from RFK Jr. Additionally, blaming Jews for disease, or alleging they are unaffected by a pandemic, evokes antisemitic tropes that date to the Black Plague and before.”
Kennedy also responded to allegations of antisemitism in a July 16 Twitter thread where he said the charges had been “cynically” leveled against him. He has since shared messages of support from Jewish people, including Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
While testifying in front of a House Select Subcommittee meeting last week, Kennedy denied any accusations of antisemitism and claimed the accusations were a move to keep him quiet.
“Antisemitism, racism—these are the most appalling, disgusting pejoratives, and they’re applied to me to silence me,” he said.
StopAntisemitism noted other incidents that helped inform their decision to give Kennedy the title.
It referred to Kennedy’s 2015 meeting with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan who has been condemned over comments widely regarded as antisemitic.
StopAntisemitism also said RFK Jr. defended musician Roger Waters, who was previously named antisemite of the week by the watchdog group and has been condemned over his support for the Palestinian-led boycott of Israeli products.