RFK, Jr. Attacked for Alleged Anti-Semitic Claims About COVID-19 Engineered to Bypass Jews: Fact Check: Fake News or Something Else?

In what may turn out to be one of the most glaring examples of fake news in recent memory, the New York Post, in an exclusive on Saturday morning, published an incendiary article titled “RFK Jr. says COVID may have been ‘ethnically targeted’ to spare Jews.”

Before that, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  had enjoyed his highest profile week yet in his campaign to win the 2024 Democrat presidential nomination. He had appeared live and in studio on three programs on the FOX News channel, the country’s #1 cable news network, and in another 20-minute interview with Piers Morgan on FOX’s streaming FOX Nation platform, and had raised additional millions of dollars in donations for his campaign.

Suddenly, his insurgent campaign was put on the defensive on social media and the mainstream and some of the alternative media by the Post article, assisted by a blaring headline on the Drudge Report that as of press time has been on Drudge’s home page for more than 36 hours.

This is lede in the Post story by Jon Levine:

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. dished out wild COVID-19 conspiracy theories this week during a press event at an Upper East Side restaurant, claiming the bug was a genetically engineered bioweapon that may have been “ethnically targeted” to spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people.

Kennedy floated the idea during a question-and-answer portion of raucous booze and fart-filled dinner at Tony’s Di Napoli on East 63d Street.

The NY Post, according to Similar Web, is the #6 most visited site among News & Media Publishers in the United States. It has gained credibility and fans on the right for its fearless original reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop and much more.

In his article Saturday, Levine offered his negative analysis and some early critical comments about what Kennedy had supposedly said at the dinner.

Kennedy’s remark echoes well-worn anti-Semitic literature blaming Jews for the emergence and spread of coronavirus which began circulating online shortly after the pandemic broke out, according to The Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at the University of Tel Aviv’s 2021 Antisemitism Worldwide Report. . .

“This is crazy,” said Morton Klein, President of the right-leaning Zionist Organization of America. “It makes no sense that they would do that. I read everything. I was totally against the vaccine. . . I wanted to convince myself it was correct not to take it. I have never seen anything like this.”

Klein, who said he had been advising Kennedy on Israel issues and called him a “good friend,” said the remark left him “worried.” . . .

The left-leaning Anti-Defamation League went further saying in a statement saying: “The claim that COVID-19 was a bioweapon created by the Chinese or Jews to attack Caucasians and black people is deeply offensive and feeds into sinophobic and anti-semitic conspiracy theories about COVID-19 that we have seen evolve over the last three years.”

The only problem is that the possibility and potential use of genetically engineered, racially- and ethnically-targeted, bioweapons has been reported on for years including in the mainstream media and the peer reviewed scientific literature.

The first hit to come up in an Internet search of the subject was an April 10, 2023 article in the National Review by Jim Geraghty, “The Coming Threat of a Genetically Engineered ‘Ethnic Bioweapon.’” Geraghty begins with a quote from a Wall Street Journal article by Paul M. Dabbar one week earlier:

Around 2017, the Energy Department’s national laboratories started having significant concerns about biosecurity with regard to China. A Chinese general [Zhang Shibo] who was head of the National Defense University in Beijing publicly declared an interest in using gene sequencing and editing to develop pathogenic bioweapons that would target specific ethnic groups, which may be the most evil idea I have ever encountered. . . Biology is among seven “new domains of warfare” discussed in a 2017 book by Zhang Shibo (张仕波), a retired general and former president of the National Defense University, who concludes: “Modern biotechnology development is gradually showing strong signs characteristic of an offensive capability,” including the possibility that “specific ethnic genetic attacks” (特定种族基因攻击) could be employed.

In the scientific literature in 2009, in the Journal of Medical Ethics published by BMJ – the British Medical Journal – an article “Is all fair in biological warfare? The controversy over genetically engineered biological weapons” by J. M. Appel begins:

Advances in genetics may soon make possible the development of ethnic bioweapons that target specific ethnic or racial groups based upon genetic markers. While occasional published reports of such research generate public outrage, little has been written about the ethical distinction (if any) between the development of such weapons and ethnically neutral bioweapons.

More recently is a post-COVID article published in the British Medical Journal in 2020, “New insights into genetic susceptibility of COVID-19: an ACE2 and TMPRSS2 polymorphism analysis,” cited yesterday by RFK, Jr in a tweet on Twitter.

In “Media Twists RFK's Remark at NY Press Event,” a defense of Kennedy written by John Leake, who co-authored a book on Covid with Peter McCullough, MD (The Courage to Face COVID-19: Preventing Hospitalization and Death While Battling the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex) and writes a Substack site with the doctor, Leake quotes Kennedy’s actual remarks at the East Side restaurant dinner:

We need to talk about bioweapons. …. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars into ethnically targeted microbes. The Chinese have done the same thing. In fact, COVID-19, there is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately. The races that are most immune to COVID-19 are—because of the genetic structure, the genetic differentials among different races, of the receptors, of the ACE-2 receptors—COVID-19 is targeted to attack caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese. We don’t know if it was deliberately targeted or not, but there are papers out there that show the racial and ethnic differential impact of that. We do know that the Chinese are spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing ethnic bioweapons, and we are developing ethnic bioweapons. That’s what all of those labs in the Ukraine are about. They are collecting Russian DNA so that we can target people by race.

If Kennedy’s quotes are indeed accurate (the unedited comments are in a video via the NY Post here), it’s fair to say that the NY Post in its article on Saturday at best took Kennedy’s words out of context – and then went trolling for negative comments by some prominent Jewish individuals and organizations.

Kennedy himself has been tweeting his responses to the Post article all weekend. Yesterday he wrote:

I demand the editors of the  @nypost  retract, and that  @LevineJonathan apologize for this false, underhanded, and inflammatory article.

On Sunday evening, Kennedy posted a new interview online – a conversation with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, named “the most famous rabbi in America” by the Washington Post and Newsweek. Rabbi Shmuley asserts on camera that Bobby is not an anti-Semite. Kennedy, in the clip posted on his Facebook, then goes on to note that in his opinion about the NY Post article:

. . . what was done to me. . . it’s an interesting phenomenon. I was tarred in a way that we call “targeted propaganda.” For many, many years, I’ve been censored on the issues that I want to talk about. This is a new kind of censorship. Now everybody has to let me talk because I’m running for president. There’s a new kind of censorship called “targeted propaganda” that is designed to make me look unpalatable, unhinged, crazy, a crank, a conspiracy theorist and it’s something that all of us really need to combat. Because we need, as you say, Rabbi Shmuley, we need an open, congenial, respectful discussion in this country. We need to be able to talk about issues without being tarred, without being subject to marginalization, vilification.

Kennedy concluded by saying “That conversation needs to begin with an agreed upon reality, and usually that means when it comes to the scientific realm peer-reviewed science. . . And we should not be tarred for talking about it.”

Taken with the NY Post’s previous article about the dinner with RFK, Jr. at Tony’s Di Napoli on East 63d Street in New York City (that one was titled “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. press dinner explodes in war of words and farting” and reads like something from the National Enquirer), one wonders what’s up with the newspaper. A person with firsthand knowledge of the Kennedy campaign told me yesterday, “The NY Post seems to have a particular hatred for RFK, Jr.”

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran journalist who has covered national politics and the politics and economics of health care, popular culture, and media for over five decades.  He is a regular contributor to the BBC Radio and Television. His web page with links to his work is http://peter.media.  Peter's extensive American Thinker archive: http://tinyurl.com/pcathinker.  Peter's Twitter account is @pchowka.

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