Lipstadt Dissects Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories, Past and Present, for ‘Vox’

Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt recently analyzed the links between anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories in an article for Vox. Titled “Marjorie Taylor Greene’s space laser and the age-old problem of blaming the Jews,” the piece dissects support from U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and other GOP officials for conspiracy theories animated by anti-Semitism. Lipstadt, an expert on the Holocaust, Holocaust denialism, and anti-Semitism, is Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies and associated faculty in the history department. Read an excerpt from the Vox article below along with the full piece.

“To understand why anti-Semitic rhetoric is so common among modern conspiracy theorists, we need to go back over 2,000 years. Deborah Lipstadt, an Emory University historian and leading expert on anti-Semitism, traces the structure of anti-Semitic ideas back to the very origins of Christianity — specifically, the New Testament description of Jesus’s death.

The early Church taught that ‘the Jews’ conspired to kill Jesus — even though Jesus and his apostles were all Jewish and the Romans who actually executed him in the story were not. This, according to Lipstadt, was in part a strategic choice: Christianity had become a competing religion to Judaism, and its leadership wanted to marginalize the older, more deeply rooted tradition. What better way to do that than to blame Jews for killing the literal savior, casting remaining Jews as Christ-denying heirs to a dark conspiracy?

“‘Jews, [early Christians] argued, repudiated this new faith because of their inherent maliciousness,’ Lipstadt writes. ‘This formulation rendered Judaism more than just a competing religion. It became a source of evil.‘”