On June 12, 1929, a beautiful, precious soul named Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany. Within 14 years of Anne’s birth, the most toxic form of German racism had annihilated Jewish lives; tortured babies and Jewish children like Anne to death, in open fires and gas chambers.
While the German company Topf and Sons that engineered the gas chambers at Auschwitz for industrialized mass killing was dissolved in 1996, many co-conspirators like German chemicals company BASF and German pharmaceutical giant, Bayer, which supplied the poison gas for mass destruction of human life through their IG Farben predecessor, trade obliviously on the world’s markets.
Today, Germany has a Federal Government Commissioner for what remains of the Jewish Life they didn’t gas to death. His name is Dr Felix Klein. In 2019, Klein issued a chilling warning to Jewish men: “Do not wear your Kippahs in public”.
2 years later, aside from suggesting a few Nazi era laws be repealed from German statutes; Klein, Angela Merkel and Germany have done virtually nothing to address devastating antisemitic violence that threatens Jewish Germans every day. Asked in a May 2021 interview on DW what he was doing to protect Jews, Klein mumbled about “a package of 89 measures” and could barely name one of them.
Compare Germany’s pitiful non-response to antisemitism to the substantive 675-pages of parliamentary inquiry into the recent WireCard scandal. 675 pages with thousands of measures to protect German investors. While shirking their ethical and legal commitments to Anne Frank and the 6 million souls who perished as a direct result of Germany’s devastating history, the German Government is more interested in cleaning up after the mess of 1 stock broker, Markus Braun.
“A culture of nonresponsibility” pervades in Germany, claims lawmaker Florian Toncar, and takes precedence over doing what is morally right. After the Halle Synagogue massacre, Angela Merkel’s cabinet introduced a bill to fight antisemitism online with $54 million fines because they know social media companies like Google and Twitter allow Jew-hatred and Holocaust Denial to stain with a poisonous digital trail of hate.
Racism gets normalized online and drives offline violence.
The legal problem is that racists online use camouflage language expertly. Take the banned white supremacist, Nicholas J. Fuentes, who substitutes his genocidal hatred of the Jewish community as “cookies” “smoke-stacks” burning in “ovens” in “aerial photographs”, and racist hatred of black Americans as a “hatred of blackboards”.
Fuentes is a Holocaust Denier:
Fuentes has compared Jews killed in the Holocaust to baked cookies and has questioned the actual number of victims killed in the Holocaust adding that “the Math doesn’t seem to add up there”.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) November 19, 2019
While it could be inferred from Fuentes’ hate speech that torture, genocide and the public lynching of every Jewish and black child is his goal, his predatory use of camouflage language shows how racist millennials are more sophisticated extremists. Big tech and the German government need to re-calibrate their radars.
One idea from marketplace startup HostJane.com to fight antisemitism in user-generated material is for tech businesses to align their terms of service with both the IHRA working definitions of Antisemitism and of Holocaust Denial and Distortion. HostJane’s IHRA policy on user-generated content provides an example: https://www.hostjane.com/legal/ihra-antisemitism/
The IHRA working definitions empower businesses with a framework to tackle antisemitism in hard to reach spaces with a finer microscope that traditional anti-racism legislation doesn’t see.
Similar to how 2020 election posts were deemed to be potentially violent, Twitter could use badge labels to flag content that violates the IHRA working definitions with a hyperlink to the IHRA website.
Social media companies are morally responsible to protect Jews by integrating the IHRA working definitions as their core anti-racism strategy. If they take this on board, it is surely a big step to #EndJewHatred within this generation.