Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Remarks Contribute to Anti-Asian and Antisemitic Bigotry


July 20, 2023

Media Contact: Mary Tablante,

Washington, DC—Democratic presidential contender Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said at a dinner in New York City last week that “Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese” people are “most immune” to Covid-19. He stated, “COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese… we don’t know whether it’s deliberately targeted or not.”

This harmful rhetoric feeds into misinformation and encourages hate and violence against the Asian American community. According to a report, 1 in 4 Americans still believe Asian Americans are partly responsible for COVID-19, and Asian Americans have suffered as a result. On March 14, 2020, a family was attacked with a knife at a grocery store because the attacker believed they were Chinese and therefore a “threat” and responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. The victims included a six year old boy. In March 2021, a 65-year-old Filipino American elderly woman was brutally assaulted in broad daylight by her attacker while shouting obscenities and anti-Asian words at her. In February 2021, Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year old Thai American man, was murdered in a daylight attack in San Francisco, California. Ratanapakdee’s family has expressed the belief that the death was part of the wave of racially motivated attacks and violence on Asian Americans. Public officials need to be held accountable for their harmful rhetoric. 

AASF Executive Director Gisela Perez Kusakawa said, “We strongly condemn Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s antisemitic and anti-Asian words. Over the last couple of years, dangerous and racist conspiracy theories about COVID-19 have emerged and spread like wildfire, which has led to countless numbers of hate-driven attacks of Asian Americans and immigrants across the country. Kennedy’s claims are not only false, but extremely harmful in that they fuel conspiracy theories and anti-Asian bigotry. I have personally lost many loved ones from the pandemic and have family members on the frontline as nurses. It is abhorrent that public officials, who are meant to protect and serve our communities, instead scapegoat and further fuel hate and violence against the Asian American community, many of whom have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response. This type of dangerous and unfounded rhetoric must stop.”


Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) is a national non-profit that promotes academic belonging, openness, freedom, and equality for all. In response to heightened anti-Asian sentiments and profiling in the U.S., AASF has been a leading national voice fighting for the rights of Asian American and immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars. AASF membership includes members from the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, in addition to past and current university presidents, provost, vice provosts, deans, associate deans and past and current department chairs.

The Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (SCBA) is the largest and a rapidly growing professional organization for scientists, mostly of Chinese descent, in many biomedical disciplines with members not only in North America, but also in Asia and Europe. Currently, SCBA has approximately 2,000 members from various universities, academies, medical institutions, industrial and biotechnology companies.

The Chinese Biological Investigator Society is formerly known as the Ray Wu Society, established to honor Dr. Ray Wu’s significant contributions in the advancement of Biochemistry and Plant Biotechnology, as well as his outstanding leadership in developing the Sino-America overseas student program. CBI Society began in January 1998. The outcomes of the activities of CBI Society and its long-term proactive impact on the advancements of life sciences can not be over-estimated. CBI Society stems from a solid base of successes in fostering young scientists and of significant contributions to science and biotechnology. CBI Society will grow steadily and operate productively to live up to its great expectations.