By David Daoud
Social networking giants Facebook and YouTube removed only one-third of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel uploads that were posted this past year, the watchdog group Israeli Students Combating Antisemitism (ISCA) reported.
The ISCA intends to present the data it has collected on antisemitism on social media to the fifth annual conference of the International Forum to Combat Antisemitism, which is being held over Tuesday and Wednesday in Jerusalem.
According to the data collected by the ISCA, 15,965 complaints sent to YouTube, Twitter and Instagram led to the closure of only approximately 5,000 pages with antisemitic content.
Many of the pages that remained active featured Holocaust denial – prohibited by law in some European countries – in addition to well-known antisemitic tropes about Jewish money controlling the world or that Jews “control Washington DC,” among other offensive stereotypes, Israeli news portal NRG reported on Tuesday.
In many of the cases, antisemitism on these pages masqueraded as pro-Palestinian activism.
Ido Daniel, the ISCA’s director, said, “The main problem is that Facebook until this day does not know what antisemitism is.” He added that, “it and other social networks find it difficult to identify antisemitism when we raise the problem with them. Sometimes many days go by before the complaint is received, if at all.”
He continued, “my staff and I have trouble finding pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel pages that do not contain antisemitism. They themselves cannot separate legitimate criticism of Israel from conspiracy theories of the worst kind.”
Gideon Becher, the director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Department for Combating Antisemitism said he agrees with Daniel that the social networks are not doing enough regarding this issue. He said that, “internet companies and site operators do not understand that virtual antisemitism can become real antisemitism.”
He noted that these major internet companies only sent junior representatives to the International Forum to Combat Antisemitism. He called on the tech giants to “be part of the solution to combat antisemitism and to protect their users from this phenomenon.”
Becher added that, “we look forward to participation from more senior staff. Even in everyday life, we do not see them taking any real action. They must internalize that hatred on the networks translates into actions against Jews in real life. Antisemitism is not virtual.”
He asserted that the flooding of social networks with hatred of Jews and the growing antisemitism in Western Europe are the central issues facing Israel and the Jewish people.
“Nine Jews were killed in three separate attacks this past year in Western Europe. This is unprecedented,” Becher said, accusing the EU and Western European countries of taking insufficient steps to stop the wave of hatred against their Jewish citizens. “Over the past two years, the two centers where we have identified a significant growth in antisemitism are in Western Europe and online social networks.”