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Instagram is being used by a range of organisations and individuals to promote Holocaust education and remembrance, but it is also being used to promote Holocaust denial, distortion and trivialisation.
Help us report these examples
This example uses the popularity of Lego to promote the antisemitic conspiracy theory of Jewish power, here claiming Jews are said to be controlling Lego City. The meme then encourage genocide as the solution. While clearly fictional, the promotion of a racist narrative and violence, even genocide, as the solution, is a real message that spreads real hate. Note the profile picture is also a Hitler cartoon.
This is examples glorifies the Holocaust and carries a threat of violence.
This example attacks Jews who raise concerns about antisemitic content by advocating violence against them. Note the text, “burn baby burn” in addition the Hitler mouse in front of the oven.
This example is a straight forward effort to spread doubt about the Holocaust. It uses Yoda to present the idea that a wise person would not believe in the Holocaust.
More straight froward denial, this time promoting the Jews as disease.
Comparisons with the Holocaust are often problematic as they distort people’s understanding of the Holocaust. If something is said to be like the Holocaust, that also says the Holocaust is like that something. It can lead to a lack of understanding about the Holocaust, and even a lack of willingness to learn the history of the Holocaust.
This examples attacks Greta Thunberg by trying to make her out to be like Hitler. The text of the post speaks of depopulation and gas chambers. It is an effort to use the Holocaust to score points by attacking someone. The post not only abuses the memory of the Holocaust but also shows hate against people with disabilities.
The full message: “I knew there was something terribly disturbing about her face and her mannerisms… something reminiscent.. harkening back to another person who thought if we just give them everything, they could solve all our problems.. #Asperger ‘s sure makes it easy to run a #finalsolution to #climatechange , doesn’t it? Maybe understand #people and #history instead of just trying to boss them around when you don’t know #science AND are blissfully #ignorant to the most important parts of being human and pretend this lack of #humanity makes you #superior ? Don’t let out of the box thinking become out of your mind genocide. If that’s where this ends, just stay in your damn box because I may be missing something but it sure does seem like this is where this ends…Justify the means and let the #Asperger‘s and #gaschambers do the rest? ? bloodsacrifice #genocide #depopulationagenda #agenda21 #gretathunberg #getyoassbacktoschoollilgangster #hitler #relatives #uncanny #arrhenius was wrong. #angstrom was right. #politics are not #science”
This example attacks Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi by comparing him to Hitler. Modi leads a right of centre political party which promotes Indian nationalism and which has recently passed two controversial laws, the NRC and the CAA, which seek to establish a citizenship list and provide a path for the many people in Indian without documentation to officially become listed as citizens – unless they are Muslims. There have been accusation of planned detention camps for undocumented non-citizens but this has been flatly denied by Modi.
The meme states that Modi is like Hitler, specifically that he is intent on genocide. This is another gross exaggeration and misuse of the Holocaust for political purposes. While criticism of the Indian policies for being racist would be reasonable, this comparison to Hitler and false allegations is not. The use of the Swastika in India pre-dates Hitler’s use and has nothing to do with Nazism. It’s use here to try draw a comparison is itself racist against Indians.
There is also a deliberate tactic of some pro-Palestinian activists to undermine Holocaust education and memorialisation work. They do this by flooding any Holocaust education content with comments about Palestine or Palestinian flags, particularly on Holocaust Memorial Day and by tagging pro-Palestinian advocacy content (i.e. factual content) and pro-Palestinian propaganda (i.e. deliberately false or misleading content) with tags related to the Holocaust. This is both disruptive to those engaging in Holocaust education and seeks to prevent a lesson about antisemitism being spread while seeking to instead turn people against Jews.
In this particular “Down with Israel” is a call for the destruction of the Jewish state. Israel is accused of being worse than ISIS/Daesh, the media are accused of being satanic, celebrities who don’t follow their propaganda line are accused of lacking “humane identity”. A direct comparison is made with the Holocaust claiming what Israel is doing is worse than the Holocaust – a propaganda line promoted in a social media strategy document by Hamas some years ago.
The image comes from video footage taken on 23 February 2020 by AP. It is published by a number of news outlets include ABC News (US). The description it came with reads:
In this frame grab from video, an Israeli military vehicle removes the body of a Palestinian after he was shot and killed by soldiers, along the Gaza-Israel border, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. The Israeli military said it shot two Palestinian militants trying to place an explosive device along the border with Gaza, and Palestinian official said one of them was killed. The Hamas militant group accused Israel of abusing the corpse. The incident comes amid a relative lull along the security fence separating Israel from Gaza.”
The message on the post is repeated in the text to help it appear in search results. There are also other copies of this image circulating.
This next example trivialises the Holocaust by comparing Gaza to Auschwitz. While both images show a crowd of people, the similarity stops there.
In Auschwitz there were two lines. Those placed in the one line went straight to the gas chambers where they were murdered and their bodies then burned in the crematoria. Those in the second line were sent to work as slave labour in the camp. They were starved, beaten, some were randomly killed others were worked to death.
The crowd shown in Gaza are queued in front of a border leading into Israel. Most will be entering Israel for work, some will be entering for medical treatment. As reported in the Times of Israel in October 2019:
“Israel has expanded a program in which it had long provided hundreds of permits to business owners to travel to Israel and the West Bank for commerce. Palestinian officials say it is now providing some 5,000 so-called merchant permits and awarding them to Palestinians working as laborers in construction, agriculture and manufacturing.”
The wait to leave Gaza can be very long and permits to cross the border are limited, points which case be raised in advocacy, but the attempt to compare is to Auschwitz has no basis and is deeply offensive both to those who lost family there and to the survivors.
Action by Instagram
We welcome some positive action Instagram has taken, including preventing a page of search results for #HolocaustMemes. More, however, needs to be done to block other terms and to actually remove the content. A far larger investment is needed from Instagram to tackle online hate.
Help us stop Holocaust Denial
While we are one of the leading organisations internationally when it comes to tackling online Holocaust denial and distortion, and we are actively working on this problem at the international level as part of our support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), funding for this work is very scarce. All most all the funding from governments and major donors is going to organisations providing education, particularly to schools. The work in schools is important, but unless we tackle the online spread of Holocaust denial and distortion, the hate and lies will continue to spread.
In addition to accepting general donations to support our work, we are also building a pool donations specifically to target this problem of Holocaust denial and distortion online.
- How to make a general donations to OHPI
- To donate specifically for tackling Holocaust denial and distortion, visit this post on Facebook and click the donate button (clicking through and sharing this post is also very welcome!)
You can also help us reporting the content above and by letting us know about other examples. Please provide a link to the examples in your message. For Facebook, YouTube and Twitter (but not yet Instagram) you can also report the content directly to our Fight Against Hate software.
UPDATE: We have also just released a second briefing for today, this time looking at an example of Holocaust distortion occurring through Facebook.