What is a Jewish trope or canard?

A trope is a metaphor or symbol that alludes to an idea, usually a false one. Often, the word is used for negative stereotypes that can be telegraphed with a phrase, even just a word, or an image.

Book cover for 100 Questions and Answers About American Jews

The word trope is often used to describe allusions to anti-Semitic stereotypes. A closely related word, canard, refers to baseless stories or rumors, and is also often used in conjunction with anti-Semitic content. Most are old or have old roots.

The Anti-Defamation League published a guide to anti-Semitic tropes in this year. The point is to debunk the myths by explaining them, their origin, the twisted logic behind them and how they are expressed today. The first trope in the guide is that Jews have too much power.

Recently, an NFL player and an actor circulated the trope that Jews are involved in a conspiracy to dominate the world. Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson put out on Instagram that there is a Jewish plan to extort America and that Adolf Hitler said Black people are the real Jews. Actor Nick Cannon made similar claims. Both were called out by Jewish leaders and apologized.

The ADL’s trope guide explains this myth and reports that “on white supremacist websites and in underground chatrooms … the notion of an international Jewish conspiracy functions as a kind of perverse social currency. ‘Globalist’ functions as a codeword for Jew, the ‘cosmopolitan elite’ a stand-in for wealthy and erudite Jews accused of acting against the common man to install a new world order.”

“100 Questions and Answers About American Jews” contains a chapter on myths and stereotypes and is one of the few guides in the series to include such a chapter. The guide is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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