Michael R. Kagan
Southern California Campus Coordinator, The David Project

AJ+ is a hotbed for anti-Semitism

Like most people my age, I usually start my mornings by scrolling through current events on social media. On the morning of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I came across a video by AJ+ on Facebook titled “Holocaust + Selfie Culture = Yolocaust”. At first glance, the message of the video seemed to address a legitimate concern. An artist who was tired of individuals disrespecting Holocaust sites with selfies decided to raise awareness about the issue. By effectively “shaming” tourists who take selfies at Holocaust sites, the artist sought for others to understand why, for Jews, taking selfies at places of mass genocide was so disrespectful. But as I scrolled through the comments, eager to understand how AJ+’s would react, I wasn’t surprised to find hatred and bigotry.

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The mere existence of this hated is not out of the ordinary, and in light of the international memorial day of the Holocaust, it further cements a truth that has been known for far too long: AJ+ is a hotbed for anti-Semitism.

On a day meant to honor and remember the six million Jewish lives lost during the Holocaust, AJ+ viewers were equating the Nazi’s horrific treatment of Jews with Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Any media outlet that expects credibility should be appalled at such comparisons.

On a separate video that AJ+ shared from Channel 4 news that honored the Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust, I saw anti-Semitic rhetoric that was even more volatile than the comments on AJ+’s video. It was appalling, shocking and numbing to see in the comments, people who were not just enthusiastic but eager to desecrate the memory of the Holocaust with the further demonization of Israel.

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If you follow AJ+ or have come across their videos, you are no doubt aware of how they spread false information on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and incite anti-Semitism on social media. As a branch of the Al-Jazeera network, AJ+ has worked tirelessly to spread content that not only turns the American public against Israel but attempts to galvanize support for the BDS movement.

Unfortunately, their strategy seems to be working. Many of their “educational videos” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict accumulate millions of views and are spread throughout social media. Not only does this create hostile rhetoric towards Jews, but it becomes all the more difficult for the pro-Israel community to counter these messages and provide the appropriate education on the conflict.

An AJ+ video describing a one-sided history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict accumulated over 12M views.
An AJ+ video describing a one-sided history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict accumulated over 12M views.

As AJ+ continues to spread their propaganda towards Israel, they have succeeded in creating a social media climate where anti-Semitism has become an accepted form of discourse. This type of behavior is outrageous and it’s about time that the Jewish and pro-Israel community no longer tolerates these incidences. In the age of social media, anti-Semitism cannot go unchallenged. A recent study by the Anti-Defamation League shows that anti-Semitic abuse has increased drastically on social media, specifically towards journalists. While there are organizations working tirelessly every day to combat false information and hate, we as individuals must also demand change and hold those in power accountable. It is time for AJ+ acknowledge the anti-Semitism spurred on by their biased coverage of the conflict, and stop the bigotry and hypocritical treatment of Israel. It is time for them to condemn their audience for its increasingly anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their complete disregard for the memory of the Holocaust. From this day forward, I will do my part in combating these incidences and calling out those who incite hatred and bigotry towards the Jewish people. I hope that many others will join me.

About the Author
Michael Kagan is an American-Israeli residing in San Diego, California. He currently serves as the Southern California Campus Coordinator for The David Project, a department of Hillel International.