The Online Hate Prevention Institute, an Australian charity combating online racism and other forms of online hate, has today released a significant new report into antisemitism.

The report examines an attempt to make an Antisemitic cartoon of a Jew, originally created for neo-Nazi websites, part of mainstream online culture. If such a move was successful it would significantly increase the acceptability of hate against Jews across a wide variety of online platforms.

The OHPI report covers the history of the cartoon, and recent effort to have the picture included in the culturally significant “Know Your Meme” website run by Cheezburger Inc. The effort to take the antisemitic cartoon mainstream included promoting a non-significant use of the image on a forum as its origin, omitting entirely the older use on neo-Nazi websites as well as current use by antisemitic pages in social media.

The report includes recommendations which can help Cheezburger Inc, a company whose’s mission is to “make the world a happier place”, use counter speech to help expose antisemitism and prevent it from spreading.

The report also notes how a Facebook page called “The Merchant” was created to promote the false back story to this meme, and how Facebook unpublished the page after received an advanced copy of OHPI’s new report. Until this occurred the page was growing rapidly, reaching 747 fans after just 7 days, and then growing by 30% to 979 fans in the next 17 hours. Prompt action by Facebook prevented further growth.

OHPI’s CEO, Dr Andre Oboler, said “The real risk from online hate comes when messages inciting hate against minorities are accepted as a normal part of online culture. When that happens racism and hate becomes acceptable and are able to spread. When that happens the hate will not stay online and people and communities will be put at risk. This new report exposes one of the most blatant attempts we have seen to normalize racism. It sought to game a website, and a company, that are themselves pillars of online culture. We hope Cheezburger Inc will be able to step forward and use this incident to take a public stand against online racism and hate in all its forms.”

The report is available as a free download from: http://ohpi.org.au/the-antisemitic-meme-of-the-jew/