“I’m not antisemitic but…”

There is a problem of structural racism within some social justice movements. Structural racism is where the practices, culture and norms act to reinforce and perpetuate inequity. One of the ways this occurs is when exceptions are made to the idea that fundamental human rights apply equally to all people at all times. For example, when the right to human dignity, including protection from racism and hate speech, is said not to apply to a particular group or to only apply conditionally. In fact the idea discrimination against a particular group (based on skin colour, ethnicity, nationality etc.) is permitted in society is the foundation of such racism.

The Online Hate Prevention Institute tackles many different kinds of hate. It includes antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, cyberbullying, trolling, and many others – as can be seen on our homepage. When we post about antisemitism, however, we regularly find people seeking to disrupt our efforts to tackle this form of hate. It also occurs whether we post about efforts to tackle Holocaust denial. Some of the disruption comes from the far right, but a lot of it also comes from the left.

This week we posts about the international campaign urging Facebook to adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism. You can read about the international call for Facebook to adopt the definition, and see our article with examples of this antisemitism here. This article shares a few of comments posted to our page in response.

Example 1

A man from Queensland wrote “when you stop murdering Palestinians maybe”. We can assume he isn’t meaning to suggest that the Online Hate Prevention Institute (and Australian charity) is murdering anyone. What he does seem to be saying is that racism against Jews (i.e. antisemitism) is not to be treated like all other forms of racism. It is to be tolerated. The accusation about “murdering Palestinians” seems to be directed against the Jewish community, who again, are clearly not murdering anyone.

There are two examples given in the IHRA Working Definition which (depending on what this person means) cover this form of antisemitism:

  • “Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.”
  • “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”

Example 2

A man from Victoria wrote, “So it is again about protecting not Jews but criminals Zionist who do crime and killing and hide behind Semitism”.

Antisemitism, particularly in the Middle East, often uses “Zionist” as a code word for Jews. The are a number of different kinds of Zionism, but the main one today is political Zionism, which is the belief that Jewish self determination (a fundamental human right) is best realised through having a Jewish state i.e. Israel. While there are some anti-Zionist Jews, the vast majority of Jews around the world are Zionists. Statements like the one above make use of this to claim they are only talking about “Zionists” when really, they just means Jews.

This same user posted at about the same time on their own profile claiming “Zionists are those who hijacked Judaism to do crimes and be able to hide behind semitism”. Firstly this makes no sense as there is no such thing as “semitism”. Secondly, claiming “Zionists Hijacked Judaism” is a message pushed by some extremely fringe anti-Zionist Jewish groups, but antisemites love to quote them as a Jewish source which is denying that anyone but them are “real Jews”. This sort of message shows that this poster has been indoctrinated into antisemitic thinking.

The poster also make other antisemitic posts, such as the one below with pictures of CBS News staff with Jewish stars on their profiles – this is an antisemitism conspiracy theory about Jewish control of the media. There are similar images about most media organisations being promoted on social media.

It isn’t just anti-Jewish conspiracy theories this person promotes. They also share fake news about COVID-19.

They even share conspiracy theories about Facebook itself.

And this blaming Jews for COVID-19, 9-11 and the Kennedy assassination. A comment on this post says “They killed Jesus ad well.”

Example 3

A comment on a post about antisemitism said, “We don’t need anti hate law or rules as it creates more hate. We need freedom of speech!” That may be a reasonable argument to take, even if it is one we disagree with. Quite often, however, it is those who promote hate who make such arguments. They want their ability to engage in racism to remain unchecked.

On the profile page of this person we quickly found a post that claimed “the Zionists” are running the major technology companies. It claims “these Zionists are all connected and work as a mafia to destroy the social and economic fabric of the world”. It accuses the Jews / Zionists / technology platforms saying they “aid and abbett the enemy of humanity”. Most tellingly it ends with “Start the ovens!” – a reference the crematoria in Nazi death camps where the bodies of millions of Jews who were gassed were then burned. It is a call for antisemitic violence.

Another post calls Australian doctors who support the lockdown “complete frauds” and expresses the opinion they should be given the death penalty. It is sharing a video from Alan Jones on Skye News.

Comments and support

Comments on this article are welcome and can be made in this Facebook post. Please note that we ban trolls and those who support hate pages without any warnings as per our no platform policy.

We are an Australian Charity funded by public donations. Our work is only possible thanks to the generosity of our donors. Right now, with the rise in online hate from COVID-19, we are working well beyond our capacity and running down our reserves. Additional support at this time from those who can afford to do so would be greatly appreciated. There are a range of ways to donate and donations from Australian tax payers are tax deductible.