May 11 2022, 14:27 pm

Semi-Nomadic Turkic People at the Center of Bizarre Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories Being Shared on Telegram to Justify Russian Invasion of Ukraine

The Insti­tute for Strate­gic Dia­logue, an inter­na­tion­al think-tank spe­cial­iz­ing in dis­in­for­ma­tion and extrem­ism, has pub­lished a report detail­ing how an anti­se­mit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry is being shared on telegram to jus­ti­fy Rus­si­a’s inva­sion of Ukraine. Accord­ing to the ISD report, the con­spir­a­cy cen­ters on the Khaz­ars,  a semi-nomadic Tur­kic peo­ple at the cen­ter of much ear­li­er antisemitism:

May 5, 2021 Like any major cri­sis in the dig­i­tal age, Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine has spurred a bar­rage of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and dis­in­for­ma­tion online. While allu­sions to the (usu­al­ly mis­rep­re­sent­ed) past are com­mon in many con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries focused on geopol­i­tics, his­to­ry has become a par­tic­u­lar­ly hot top­ic in this case. From deny­ing Ukraini­ans’ eth­nic iden­ti­ty to decry­ing its gov­ern­ment as fas­cists, dis­tor­tions of his­to­ry have become tools used to under­mine Ukraine’s right to exist as an inde­pen­dent and demo­c­ra­t­ic state.
As with many con­tem­po­rary con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, anti­semitism has been present in sev­er­al nar­ra­tives about the inva­sion, rang­ing from direct attacks on Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelensky’s Jew­ish her­itage, to tropes about glob­al elites hav­ing their sin­is­ter plans foiled by Putin’s deci­sion to invade. One of the anti­se­mit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries being used to jus­ti­fy Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine is the Khaz­ar­i­an Mafia.

Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the Khazars

Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the Khaz­ars, a semi-nomadic Tur­kic peo­ple who estab­lished a major empire (Khaz­aria) between East­ern Europe and West­ern Asia in the Mid­dle Ages, have been spread in con­spir­acist, right-wing extrem­ist, and Islamist com­mu­ni­ties online pri­or to the cur­rent con­flict. How­ev­er, giv­en that Khaz­aria spanned mod­ern-day, south-east­ern Rus­sia, south­ern Ukraine, Crimea and Kaza­khstan, they have acquired dis­tinct geo­graph­ic rel­e­vance amidst the war in Ukraine. The Khaz­ars became a pop­u­lar talk­ing point among con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists due to the claim that the Khaz­ar peo­ple, or at least their elites, con­vert­ed to Judaism en masse dur­ing the 8th cen­tu­ry. The lack of reli­able, con­tem­po­rary source research on the Khaz­ars make it dif­fi­cult to deter­mine how true this claim is. Khaz­aria was for­got­ten for cen­turies, until it was redis­cov­ered among ear­ly Zion­ists in the 19th cen­tu­ry, who were inter­est­ed in what they saw as a poten­tial­ly his­toric Jew­ish state. While there do appear to have been con­ver­sions to Judaism among the Khaz­ars, the extent of the con­ver­sion to Judaism amoe­porngst the wider pop­u­lace remains unclear.

Read the rest here.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed in March how some of the unique aspects of Telegram are result­ing in the social mes­sag­ing app increas­ing­ly being used for influ­ence purposes.


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