Antisemitic Google Reviews

In late 2023 we responded to a number of fake reviews being left on Jewish businesses. We documented these cases and met with YouTube to discuss them. The reviews were removed by Google as hate speech. As an example, one of these reviews read: “Unprofessional individual. Also supports genocide and apartheid. Don’t purchase off psychopaths who like to watch babies blown to pieces.” The review was from someone who has not actually done business with the company they were reviewing. In May 2024 we were notified of another case of an extremely fake and antisemitic Google review targeting a Jewish business. This article shares details of that case.

The restaurant targeted was New Jaffa. It has 387 Google reviews with an average rating of 4.6 stars out of five.

It’s website explains the restaurant’s concept: 

New Jaffa invites you to take a gastronomic journey along the Mediterranean basin. Our menu combines classic dishes with fresh seasonal specials made using only the best local produce. You haven’t had hummus until you’ve had our hummus, made daily using a secret recipe served with lots of olive oil, spices and fresh pita. New Jaffa brings you the best of Middle Eastern, North African and Southern European culinary traditions with a contemporary twist. It’s honest, hearty soul food to excite the senses and share with friends.

The review in question was a 1 star review which read: 

“Not a single piece of watermelon on the menu… they’ve appropriated just about everything else though. Sahtain ya khara! PS – had explosive diarrhoea, needed IOF diapers for a week.”

The reference to watermelon is a shout-out to Palestinian activism that has been using the watermelon as a symbol since 1967. The watermelon emoji has been used extensively since the current Hamas-Israel war began in October 2023. Watermelons, however, originated in North Africa, another region the restaurant covers.  They have also been used by Jews in Israel since at least the year 200 when their use was documented, in Hebrew, as payment of religious tithes along with grapes, pomegranates and figs. 

IOF is a derogatory reference to Israel’s military. Formally the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) the term IOF refers to “Israeli Occupation Forces”. The reference to “IOF diapers” refers to a meme created from a speech by Abu Obaida, spokesperson for the paramilitary wing of Hamas, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. For context, this group has been proscribed by the Australian government as a terrorist group since 2003. The meme comes from a viral video Abu Obaida released in early December 2023 in which he said the IDF was “perhaps the only army in the world that wears diapers, more specifically pampers”. 

We reported the review (along with another) to our contacts at Google and they immediately escalated it for attention. After 9 days we received the following response from Google: 

“We really appreciate you flagging these concerns with us and we have escalated these for review against our policies which seek to ensure that offensive content is removed. The first review has been removed given its contravention of our policies.”

We were also advised that where reviews are removed there can be a 24-48 hour delay for the system to update. We thank Google for taking action on this review. It is another example of an antisemitic attack on a Jewish business through a Google review.