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Tags: Social Media | Antisemitism | Debate

Social Media and Antisemitism

Social Media and Antisemitism

Scott Feltman By Friday, 11 June 2021 11:16 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

There is a very old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But words can cause much harm by inciting people to perform acts of physical violence.

During the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, there was, and continues to be, a tremendous amount of vitriol in the press and particularly social media against Israel. This occurs despite the fact that Israel was under a barrage of rockets by a nearly universally-held terrorist entity. Social media has become an extremely divisive medium. The hateful rhetoric found on various platforms, I feel confident, has been a leading culprit for antisemitic attacks against Jews.

Within a two-week timespan, Jews were attacked while going about their normal activities including eating at restaurants in New York City and Los Angeles.

In fact, my friend’s son, who is 29, was brutally attacked coming out of a subway. His perpetrators were caught and will be charged with hate crimes but were immediately released due to New York’s new bail reform.

Synagogues across the country were vandalized including the one former congresswoman, Gabby Gifford attends.

According to Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, millennials and generation Z get almost all their news from social media sites, yet most of the posts are at best, half-truths and skewed to incite emotion rather than foster dialogue.

Short statements or dramatic infographics that are found on social media cannot truly represent the complexity of the century-old Israeli-Arab conflict. To truly understand the background behind what happened in the recent conflict, one needs to look beyond memes and read articles, books, and listen to podcasts and lectures from experts on the subject.

I remember back in high school, debate teams would practice by being given both sides of different issues to defend. This was done in order to hone skills in order to better prepare one’s own arguments while understanding the opposing side.

Nowadays, not only do we not understand opposing arguments, for far too many, we’re not even exposed to opposing views.

Additionally, social media algorithms tailor content to each user based upon their perceived views and biases based upon prior posts, “likes” and “shares”, often preventing users from seeing content that might present different perspectives.

As executive vice president of One Israel Fund, a nonprofit philanthropy that raises funds in support of the welfare and safety of all those who live in conflict areas in Israel, I was angry when some of our own posts were delayed or deleted on social media sites.

These posts certainly did not violate terms of use but had been flagged for some reason by the platforms. Sometimes the platform will notify the poster that their post has been deleted without any further clarification. You can appeal these decisions, but the review can take upwards of 48 hours.

One Israel Fund’s posts are aimed at reaching out to donors and it’s vital that this occurs in real time. The dollars we raise goes to enhancing and saving lives, yet some of our posts were blocked, and our ads often rejected based upon some unknown or undefined technicality.

However, it is not only my organization which is facing this censorship. I have a friend who shared a post, not about Israel, but about antisemitism from an organization that counters antisemitism in the entertainment industry.

After five minutes Facebook pulled down her post and stated untruthfully that the “Content isn’t available right now. When this happens it because the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it’s been deleted.” This was not true as the post was still on the organization’s website.

Approximately 500,000 have been slaughtered in Syria’s Civil War over the past decade and nary a sentence is mentioned in the “hallowed” halls of the United Nations. However, when approximately 200 people were killed during the recent hostilities – and some of those were undoubtedly caused by Hamas’s own rockets which malfunctioned and landed inside Gaza – the United Nations was quick to condemn. Try posting these statements on social media sites and see how fast they are taken down or flagged by the “fact checkers.”

Not everyone has to support Israel and even those who support it don’t agree with everything its government does – no government is perfect.

However, when social media sites allow those to have a platform who promote hate for Israel and often share false or misleading information, while not allowing those who support Israel or, at the very least stand up against antisemitism to express themselves, they are creating an atmosphere that will incite antisemitic crimes. When that happens, those sites will have blood on their hands.

Scott M. Feltman is the executive vice president of One Israel Fund, a North American nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare and safety of Jewish communities in the Biblical Heartland of Israel.

© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Nowadays, not only do we not understand opposing arguments, for far too many, we’re not even exposed to opposing views.
Social Media, Antisemitism, Debate
Friday, 11 June 2021 11:16 AM
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