When will Twitter take anti-Semitism seriously?

Each week Jewish News shines a light on social media’s darkest corners, publishing the latest anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist Tweets in a section called ‘Thanks For Sharing’.

Recent charm school graduates to feature include @MisGrace [“Israeli Jews harvest Palestinian kids’ organs”] and @AJCTmusic [“The Holocaust is a massive lie, indoctrinated by foreign parasites”].

We provide this public service because platforms like Twitter and Facebook don’t seem to give a flying fig about wining and dining this sewage. Rather than be a gallant little Dutch boy, holding back the tide with finger in dam, these multi-billion dollar businesses choose to accommodate hashtags #Holohoax, #filthyjewbitch and #Hitlerwasright.

It’s long been open season on Jewish Parliamentarians, with Labour MPs Luciana Berger [2,500 hate tweets in three days] and Ruth Smeeth [25,000 since June] among the abused.

You don’t even have to be a public figure to be a target. My own fan mail includes ‘You look like any Jew you c***’ and ‘I’ll put you in a f****** ash tray’.

Some of the abuse targeting Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger.
Some of the abuse targeting Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger.

Meanwhile, over on Facebook, random kooks from intolerant Islamist to right-on lefties – with nothing in common aside from their fear of Jewish plans for world domination (ah, those) whip each other up into a frenzy. [See ‘Zionist Israel A Threat To Mankind’, 36,206 members; ‘Israeli Plots Against Islam’, 6,512].

It’s enough to make you hanker for the good old days when Jew haters looked like Jew haters, swam like Jew haters and quacked like Jew haters, without the obfuscation and hidden agendas [Don’t kid yourself that the slur ‘Zio’ has anything to do with Israel – it’s shorthand for ‘Jew’]. You knew where you stood with a good-old sieg heil and swastika. Simpler times.

No doubt inspired by ‘Thanks For Sharing’, this week a Home Affairs Select Committee report on anti-Semitism pulled no punches in branding Twitter “deplorable” for allowing itself to become an “inert host for vast swathes of anti-Semitic hate speech and abuse, despite having “necessary resources and technical capability” to address the problem.

The cross-party group said it was “disgraceful” that Jews using social media were targeted by “appalling” levels of abuse and called on internet bosses to act “proactively” to identify abusive users, rather than rely on victims to report it to them.

It also called for investment in enforcement and more resources to identify abusive users [Twitter currently employs one moderator for every 130,000 tweets].

Wise words indeed.

These recommendations should not be seen as censorship. Free speech, after all, is priceless. Mess with it at your peril. Criminalise idiots? Where does that end?

Any fool should be free to say fish ride bikes and Donald Trump should lead the free world. Others react accordingly. We should all question, confront, and, yes, offend. But even democratic privilege has limits and free speech ends where race hate, threats and incitement begin.

Just ask Luciana Berger, Ruth Smeeth or any proud Jew, for whom intimidation and abuse is simply the price they pay for logging on.

About the Author
Richard has been editor of Jewish News since 2009. He is one of Britain's leading Jewish voices, writing for The Times, Independent, New Statesman and many other titles. Richard previously worked at the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, edited the Boston Jewish Advocate and created the Channel 4 TV series Jewish Mum Of The Year. In July 2022 he was named one of “39 People Making Waves in the Jewish Media Sphere” by the website Future of Jewish.
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