Israel Accuses Chinese State TV of ‘Blatant Antisemitism’

May 19, 2021 Updated: May 25, 2021

BEIJING—Israel’s Embassy in China is protesting what it describes as “blatant antisemitism” on a program run by the overseas channel of state broadcaster CCTV discussing the ongoing violence in Gaza and elsewhere.

In a tweet, the embassy said “we have hoped that the times of the ‘Jew’s controlling the world’ conspiracy theories were over, unfortunately antisemitism has shown its ugly face again.”

“We are appalled to see blatant antisemitism expressed in an official Chinese media outlet,” the tweet said.

On the Tuesday CGTN broadcast, host Zheng Junfeng questioned whether U.S. support for Israel was truly based on shared democratic values, saying “some people believe that U.S. pro-Israeli policy is traceable to the influence of wealthy Jews in the U.S. and the Jewish lobby on U.S. foreign policymakers.”

“Jews dominate finance and internet sectors,” Zheng says, speaking in English. “So do they have the powerful lobbies some say? Possible.”

CCTV headquarters building in Beijing
People ride bicycles past the China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters building in Beijing, on May 19, 2021. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo)

Spokesperson Erez Katz Volovelsky said Wednesday the embassy had nothing to add to its tweet and had so far received no reply from CGTN, which CCTV operates for foreign audiences, similar to Russia’s RT.

There was no immediate comment from CCTV and Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said he was “not aware of the situation.”

China has long been a strong backer of the Palestinian cause and in recent days the Foreign Ministry has castigated the United States for blocking a statement in the United Nations Security Council condemning the violence. They said the statement would not help “de-escalate” the situation.

Yet, since establishing formal diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992, Beijing has nurtured close economic, technological, and military ties, including the purchase of early model Israeli drones.

Judaism is not one of China’s officially recognized religions and stereotypes about Jews as shrewd business people are common among the Chinese public.