The hatred sown in the network: digital antisemitism

Jessica Palese “L’odio seminato nella rete: l’antisemitismo digitale” (The hatred sown in the network: digital antisemitism), 28 January 2015

(Translated from Italian)

Think that anti-Semitism is a phenomenon of the past to be entrusted to the memory of books, ie underestimate the virality of ideas and the power of the current digital media.

The idea, persistent and contagious, knows today new forms of immediate release and, with globalization, the main ethnic prejudice of all time is in fact returned to spread like wildfire around the world.

According to a report of the ‘ EU Agency for Fundamental Rights , Italy holds the record of abuse, insults and antisemitic messages of intolerance on the Internet. The Postal Police has made it known that they are about seventy sites entirely dedicated to the spread of hatred against Jews: although they were overshadowed in the past, managed to evade the law by moving Italian domains registration abroad.

The neo-Nazi groups share their anti-Semitic materials protected by anonymity of the Net, thanks to the use of proxies and anonymizers. Sow hatred and send the internet racist messages “subliminal” hiding behind a nickname that, often, are evocative of their mission: to insult and threaten the Jewish community. The weapons of the anti-Semites are the virtual black-list, the cartoons, the video-offenses, manipulations of history.

And ‘the case of Holywar, anti-Jewish website finished after 10 years of activity in the viewfinder of the prosecution. The surveys were completed in April 2014 and seven people are currently awaiting trial, accused of having promoted a group having among its purposes incitement to discrimination of the Jewish people. The mind of the movement was the Norwegian Alfred Olsen, who in Italy has created a network whose cornerstone was the spread of ideas also connected to the denial of the Holocaust .

Just one example of how the sites in question are not aimed so much to conversion to anti-Semitism, as to make it socially acceptable in the web community, discostandolo by racism.

A scare, are not only websites openly anti-Jewish, but of course also social media. Although not shared, the forms of hatred that run on Facebook and Twitter are likely to become socially acceptable, making it more likely that the stimuli of the online community affect on actual behavior.

Extremist groups, from north to south of the peninsula, publish on their social profiles of hate messages more or less veiled, meme and parodies that feature Hitler and the Holocaust, as well as references to what are commonly called “conspiracy theories” . And ‘the most worrying, perhaps, among other forms mentioned above, since it does not refer to social prejudices of the past, but turns the spotlight on this, attributing the cause of political and social events in a conspiracy.

And ‘the case of the theories regarding the Rothschilds, a European family of German-Jewish origin, which established the European banking and financial system in the late eighteenth century. Some social profiles, publish daily posts, links and comments regarding self-styled Masonic-style activities of the famous family of bankers and the entire Jewish community. Accused of acting secretly to “rule the world” through the management of important companies in the world, are therefore targeted by extremist groups that incite to “bring down the beast Rothschild” and the Semitic people.

To denounce anti-Semitism and racism on Facebook, was created a short guide prepared by the study center Australian Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI). The ” Facebook Reporting Guide “is designed to enable users of the famous social platform to report content managers Semitic, racist and offensive that are published.

Internet has only transferred and amplified ideas that in the past were spreading through publications aimed at an audience of “niche”. The risk lies in the current passivism might give the impression that hatred is normal, daily and legitimate, it is anti-Jewish or addressed to other ethnicities. Could generate a profuse culture of hostility, xenophobia and anti-social behavior, with big risks for public order and security.