The young climate activist was accused of posting an anti-Jewish image
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was accused of spreading anti-Semitic messages online after she voiced support for the Palestinians on X (formerly Twitter). She since deleted her original post, after taking flak on social media.
On Friday, Thunberg shared a photo of herself and three other women holding posters with pro-Palestinian slogans. “Today we strike in solidarity with Palestine and Gaza,” she wrote, calling for a ceasefire in the Middle East, as well as “justice and freedom for Palestinians and all civilians affected.”
However, some quickly spotted that one of the women had a small blue stuffed octopus perched on her knee and drew parallels with anti-Semitic cartoons depicting Jews as menacing octopuses with long and far-reaching tentacles. Such images have been used in Nazi Germany and elsewhere to promote myths and conspiracy theories surrounding the Jewish people and Judaism.
Think about this, Greta Thunberg and her friends went out, bought an aquamarine octopus stuffed animal for their big Instagram photo shoot. Carefully placed it casually next to her thinking they’re being cheeky and no one would notice in the era of the internet.. pic.twitter.com/tqr57OxHdM
— EducatëdHillbilly™ (@RobProvince) October 20, 2023
The activist soon deleted the original post and shared the same photo with the octopus cropped out. “It has come to my knowledge that the stuffed animal shown in my earlier post can be interpreted as a symbol for antisemitism, which I was completely unaware of,” Thunberg wrote. “The toy in the picture is a tool often used by autistic people as a way to communicate feelings.”
“We are of course against any type of discrimination, and condemn antisemitism in all forms and shapes,” the activist added, explaining why she had taken down the previous post.
Some came to Thunberg’s defense, noting that the octopus has been a popular motif in many satirical and political cartoons throughout history.
— Suresh Nirody – snirody.eth (@snirody) October 20, 2023
Nevertheless, Israel’s official account on X criticized Thunberg for her stance. “Hamas doesn’t use sustainable materials for their rockets which have BUTCHERED innocent Israelis. The victims of the Hamas massacre could have been your friends. Speak up,” it wrote, attaching photos of three people killed by the Palestinian militants.
Former Israel Defense Forces spokesman Arye Sharuz Shalicar went further, telling Politico magazine that “whoever identifies with Greta in any way in the future, in my view, is a terror supporter” and attacked her for “showing solidarity with Gaza while not saying a word about the massacres of Israelis.” Shalicar later walked back his comments, saying that he “spoke out of a deep sense of pain,” and that his words did not reflect his views or the views of the IDF.
Thunberg first became famous in 2018 when she held a solo picket outside the Swedish parliament demanding action on climate change. She has since spoken about the issue on different global platforms, including the UN, and has been detained several times for her activism.