Jews and Israel attacked in online intifada – Opinion

When Israel faced a wave of stabbing attacks in 2015 fueled by social media incitement, the government and activists like me spoke about the link between social media incitement and violence in the country. real world.

This so-called Intifada saw dozens of attacks on innocent Israelis inspired by the glorification of “martyrdom” on Palestinian social media as well as explicit videos and tutorials on how to stab Jews and why to stab Jews ” would lead to the release of al-Aqsa. “

Fast forward six years. The same myths about al-Aqsa are used on the same platforms, social media, to unleash the same violence, targeting Jews. Only this time, it’s not just an incentive issue on Arab social media – it’s happening all over the world.

After Facebook and other platforms finally cracked down on explicit incitement to violence in Arabic in 2016, the plethora of anti-Semitic content took center stage.

For over a year, leading activists and organizations have called on social media platforms to use the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism as a framework for identifying and addressing anti-Semitic discourse.

Although progress has been made, the failure of social media networks to escalate has never been clearer than with the latest operation in Gaza and its aftermath, which Jewish communities around the world still face.

Throughout the Israeli operation in Gaza, social media has become almost as important a battlefield as the actual battlefield.

Even in the days leading up to the violence, social media was inundated in English, Arabic and other languages ​​with factually incorrect information about Sheikh Jarrah, which was subsequently picked up in the international press.

As at the right time, Iran and Hamas took advantage of the outcry to urge violence on the Temple Mount and then started attacking Israel, but you wouldn’t know any of this from what has been said about them. social media.

Throughout the 11-day operation, Jews and supporters of Israel were bombarded with hate speech, death threats and aggressive spam attacks on their posts and direct messages. I myself have received over 100,000 hate mentions on Twitter alone. TikTok teens have been harassed and threatened, accused of supporting “war criminals” or “apartheid”, leading to real isolation.

Journalists from mainstream networks like the BBC even tweeted content with comments like “Hitler was right”. In fact, that same delicious phrase was tweeted over 17,000 times in a single week from May 7-14, and was even trending on Twitter at some point in the week.

In a horrific incident in TikTok, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor who wished her supporters “Shabbat Shalom” received a torrent of abuse from “pro-Palestinian” activists who left comments such as “the happy holocaust” and “peace be upon Hitler”. . “

On a personal note, I have many friends and acquaintances who have been cut off by longtime friends because of the Gaza conflict, all because they “supported the genocide of the Palestinians.” While previously it was possible to have at least one discussion, group thinking facilitated by social media (and criminally inaccurate news reporting) has gone beyond most basic logic, even in many interpersonal relationships. The results have been devastating.

Jewish communities around the world are reeling from attacks after attacks, with a 500% increase in reported anti-Semitic incidents. Places once considered “exceptional” for their philosemite communities, such as New York, are suddenly battlegrounds where Jews are spat on the streets and violently attacked. Palestinian activists call for “rape Jewish women” in Jewish neighborhoods in London, synagogues have been vandalized with swastikas in Utah and Arizona, Jews have been lynched on the streets of several cities in the United States. USA and UK, and a Holocaust museum has been vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti in Florida.

The attacks also continue online. Jewish content creators have been targeted for weeks, even when they don’t talk about anything to do with being Jewish or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinian flags and anti-Semitic questions about why they are. “Support genocide” among other scandalous comments.

Jewish teens are now afraid to speak out about their identities online or in person, afraid of being ‘canceled’ by a mob of fanatics who ironically don’t even have the facts on their side when it comes to Gaza .

All of this is the byproduct of intentional disinformation disseminated primarily through social media.

THE REALITY is that Israel was waging a war against an internationally recognized terrorist organization, Hamas. Israel was not waging a war against the Palestinian people.

The reality is that Israel used precision weapons exclusively to strike terrorist sites and evacuated them in advance.

The reality is that the death of 200 people in a military conflict is very sad, but certainly not genocide.

The reality is that Israel does nothing, even remotely, close to ethnic cleansing, that Israel is not even slightly an apartheid state, and that Israel continually makes enormous efforts to avoid civilian casualties while at the same time. defending its civilians.

But social media doesn’t care about reality; they cared about the false narrative being promoted, even when it costs Jewish lives around the world.

There is a price for this misinformation, and it is higher than what we should be prepared to pay. Social media platforms have failed us, like most media. We must hold them to account.

The author is the CEO of Social Lite Creative LLC and a researcher at the Tel Aviv Institute.

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