Greta Thunberg is a a Swedish environmental activist known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation. She recently posted on her social media account and promptly deleted the post after she received a backlash over a blue stuffed octopus in the post that some argued may be interpreted as a “anti-Semitic” symbol endorsing Palestine.
This comes in the wake of the current military conflict between Israel and Hamas, a militant Palestinian group which controls the Gaza strip. The war began on October 7, 2023, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel by firing over 5,000 rockets into the country within a span of 20 minutes. Israel responded with airstrikes on Gaza in a conflict that has left thousands dead, injured, missing or held as hostages.
Thunberg started her climate activism when she convinced her parents to reduce the carbon footprint of their family. She also started skipping school, with the intention of influencing the outcome of the Swedish national election. She held up a Skolstrejk för klimatet (School Strike for Climate) sign and distributed informational brochures as she advocated for more aggressive climate change action outside the Swedish parliament.
In the post, the 20-year-old stated, “Today we are striking in solidarity with Palestine and Gaza. The world needs to speak up and call for an immediate ceasefire, justice, and freedom for Palestinians and all civilians affected,” said Greta Thunberg, 20, in a post.
In that post, Greta explained, “It has come to my knowledge that the stuffed animal shown in my earlier post can be interpreted as a symbol for anti-Semitism, which I was completely unaware of. The toy in the picture is a tool often used by autistic people as a way to communicate feelings,” said Greta Thunberg in a post.
Since the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it was used in anti-Semitic discourse and propaganda, an octopus has been used as a symbol of prejudice toward Jews.
Conspiracy theories sometimes included imagery of octopuses to imply Jewish manipulation or control of various facets of society or politics.
Typical representations included a tentacled octopus sporting a Star of David and engulfing a globe. With such depictions, Jews were accused of attempting to rule the globe for evil.
Jews were portrayed in Nazi propaganda as tentacled octopuses using their arms to control the economy, the media, and politics, especially in works like “Der Stürmer.”
These derogatory caricatures strengthened negative preconceptions and stoked anti-Semitism.
The octopus symbol is linked to the mythical literature known as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which purports to reveal a Jewish plot to rule the world.
According to this theory, Jews are an all-powerful group that secretly runs the world through its influence. Beyond historical propaganda, the octopus has been used as an anti-Semitic symbol.
Beyond historical propaganda, the octopus is a symbol of anti-Semitism.
Additionally, it has been used in more recent instances of hate speech, such as internet memes and images that perpetuate negative stereotypes and support the survival of anti-Semitic views.
Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager
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