(Washington Insider Magazine) – Yesterday afternoon, the phrase #FireMeghanMcCain was trending on Twitter. What terrible, awful thing had she said to warrant trending on Twitter? The co-host of the View had done something few others have: decried an alarming spike in anti-Semitism.
It’s not surprising, if you’re familiar with Twitter, to see how an outspoken defender of the Jewish people may find herself in its crosshairs. This is a place where variations of the phrase “Hitler was right” were posted more than 17,000 times (according to the Anti-Defamation League) in just a one-week span in May. As in-person violence against Jews has spiked, so too has hatred against Jews online.
They are not disconnected phenomenons; but part of the same ecosystem of hate that has blossomed along with the increase in tensions in the Middle East.
Writing for the Jewish Journal, Pamela Paresky and Alex Goldenberg described some of the research they’ve compiled about anti-Semitism online. They wrote, “According to the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), where both authors are affiliated, “extremist hashtags and slogans are upstream predictors of real-world violence and unrest.”
In a disturbing example, the antisemitic hashtag #Covid1948 has been trending on Twitter in several countries, including the United States. Often accompanied by nakedly anti-Jewish content, the hashtag likens the birth of the state of Israel in 1948 to the COVID-19 virus. According to the NCRI, the hateful hashtag was shared up to 175 times per minute for over 4 hours on May 13. It often appears alongside #FreePalestine and is associated with other antisemitic hashtags like #Hitlerwasright and #Zionazi.”
While we’ve seen President Donald Trump and countless numbers of his supporters booted off Twitter’s service, purveyors of Jew hate like Iran’s Supreme Leader Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyyeh, and Louis Farrakhan are still regularly posting. Adeel Raja posting in praise of Hitler throughout his time on Twitter finally lost him a gig as a freelance CNN contributor but didn’t even warrant a suspension, let alone ban, from the social media service.
Over the last year, we’ve seen official and viral social media campaigns for Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate. Social media companies and their users stood up to hatred and promoted content designed to stand athwart prejudice. And now with an increase in online and in-person hatred against Jews, we’re met with silence.
Around the world, we’ve seen violent attacks on Jews walking down the street, dining at Kosher restaurants, at synagogues, and demonstrating in support of Israel. The videos of incendiary devices thrown at Jews standing in the Diamond District or dining outside are jarring, and the muted reaction online, with the only vocal response coming almost entirely from the Jewish community, has been perhaps even more alarming than the attacks themselves.
These aren’t just an isolated set of events with a handful of bigots roaming the streets looking for Jews to target; no, we are witnessing a wholesale abandonment of the Jewish people at the hands of these mobs both in the streets and on the Web.
The popularity of these anti-Semitic messages, the silence of social media companies and their users in response to these attacks, and their outrage that someone like Meghan McCain would dare speak up against it, speaks volumes about our priorities as a society. While we may stand against some forms of hatred, the oldest form, that of Jew hate, is still fair-game.