Tags: foxman | internet | racial | hate

Foxman to Newsmax: Internet a 'Super Highway' for Racial Hate

By Melanie Batley and Kathleen Walter   |   Wednesday, 31 Jul 2013 03:41 PM

The Internet is a "super highway" for bigots and racially-motivated bullying, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.

The co-author of the new book "Viral Hate: Containing its Spread on the Internet," said that part of why the Internet has become a vehicle racist attacks is due to its inherently anonymous nature.

"[The Internet is] a super highway for good things and bad things. A lot of good things coming out of the Internet – more education, more information, more exchange, people being able to talk to each other, share ideas. But at the same time it provides an underbelly, a dark underbelly of super highway for bigots," he said.

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"Bigots can now communicate their hatred, their prejudice, their racism, their anti-Semitism in nanoseconds globally. They can do it under a veil of anonymity and it never goes away. It's almost like a tsunami of words and unfortunately many of them, hateful, hurtful words."

Foxman said minorities of all kinds are victims of cyber bullying and abuse online which has become more widespread and continues to escalate. He said because of its viral nature it can reverberate globally with tragic results.

Foxman added that while there is no easy solution, one step would be to work with Internet providers to help stamp out the abuse, while families and communities also need to be more alert and proactive.

In the wide-ranging interview, Foxman reflected on President Barack Obama's decision to discuss his personal views on race relations in the wake of the George Zimmerman acquittal.

"The president was right [to get involved.] We have elected an African-American president. That's a huge step in terms of fighting a racist society but we haven't eliminated racism and it's still there," Foxman said.

He added that the president "legitimized a conversation" and that "the tone he used, that he personalized it is a healthy thing which will help heal rather than exacerbate."

Foxman also discussed his optimism about the upcoming peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"The dynamics have changed in the Middle East in the last year or two. I'm an optimist in the sense that if both of these parties are sitting down, and they will be sitting down one on one or two on two without intermediaries, the atmosphere is better," he said.

"Anybody expecting a major breakthrough of end of conflict will be disappointed. But if we can take small steps in the right direction, build trust, build the economy, keep the level of violence down, maybe we'll get there in our lifetime."

Foxman played down reports of strained relations between the U.S. and Israel, saying any tension was a result of political differences which have diminished as a result of the president's recent visit to Israel and the Middle East.

He said he feels the military relationship and the intelligence relationship between the two countries is very supportive and very closely aligned, bound partially by the common objective to neutralize Iran and establish stability in the region.

"I would put the relationship at a much higher level than it's ever been before, motivated by joint common interests, strategic interests, and I don’t think that what we're seeing is America pushing Israel in a direction that it is not willing to go," Foxman said.

He added, however, that he is in no doubt that if Israel feels its existence is threatened by a nuclear Iran, it will likely take military action in the near future, especially if Israel feels the rest of the world is not taking adequate steps to deal with the situation.

On a final point, Foxman said he believed the European Union has always and continues to be biased in favor of the Palestinians, a position the ADL has condemned in the past, but he's hopeful about the influence the new European states may have, given they tend to have "a more understanding and friendly" approach to Israel.

"But, unfortunately," he concluded, "the EU has a balance bias towards the Palestinians."

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