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On Twitter, Jewish journalists targeted by a torrent of anti-Semitism

(RNS) A flood of anti-Jewish hate speech targeting Jewish journalists on Twitter rose with the political fortunes of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

A report released Wednesday (Oct. 19) by the Anti-Defamation League does not directly indict Trump for this upswing in anti-Semitism. But it explicitly connects some of his supporters to the hate speech.

“The spike in hate we’ve seen online this election season is extremely troubling and unlike anything we have seen in modern politics,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “A half-century ago, the KKK burned crosses. Today, extremists are burning up Twitter.”

The ADL found that 2.6 million anti-Semitic tweets — with an estimated reach of 10 billion impressions on Twitter — were posted on the popular social media platform between August 2015 and July 2016.

Within this group of tweets, the task force focused on 19,253 — though the ADL says the actual number could be much higher — directed at 800 journalists. Two-thirds of these tweets came from 1,600 Twitter accounts.

The top 10 most targeted journalists — all Jewish — received 83 percent of those 19,253 tweets. Among them: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman, and CNN’s Sally Kohn and Jake Tapper.

Yair Rosenberg, a writer for Tablet magazine — which covers Jewish news and culture –also made the top 10 list, and praised the ADL report for bringing attention to the wave of anti-Semitism targeting Jewish journalists.

“I was getting this stuff before the election. Obviously, it’s intensified,” Rosenberg said. “There’s a bunch of very vocal, alt-right, nationalist, Neo-Nazi — whatever definition you prefer — that goes particularly berzerk when Jews criticize Donald Trump.”

Some tweets are viciously and threateningly anti-Semitic. Rosenberg sometimes responds to less violent ones with humor, as he did when one Twitter user repeated the common anti-Semitic trope that Jews control the media.

And as have other Jewish journalists, Rosenberg has surrounded his name online with triple parentheses — co-opting an anti-Semitic code, popular among white nationalists, used to identify someone as Jewish.

Over this noted rise in anti-Semitism on Twitter, and attacks on Jewish journalists in particular, the ADL in June formed its Task Force on Harassment and Journalism, which included journalists, deans of well-respected journalism schools and experts on hate speech.

The task force’s report found the 1,600 offending Twitter users often identified themselves as white, supporters of Trump, conservative and the alt-right —  far right-wingers, some of whom are white supremacists. The task force emphasized that it is not implying that Trump or his campaign endorsed tweets from these accounts. “Only that certain self-styled supporters sent these ugly messages.”

But Trump and his campaign have done little to dissuade his followers from such behavior, and Trump himself has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles as protestors hold up a sign reading "No Place for Hate in Maine" during a campaign rally in Portland, Maine on March 3, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Joel Page *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ANTI-SEMITISM, originally transmitted on Oct. 19, 2016.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles as protestors hold up a sign reading “No Place for Hate in Maine” during a campaign rally in Portland, Maine on March 3, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Joel Page *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ANTI-SEMITISM, originally transmitted on Oct. 19, 2016.

Among the most well-publicized examples of an online onslaught against a Jewish journalist were the death threats and torrent of anti-Semitic abuse on Twitter that Julia Ioffe received from Trump supporters after she published a profile of his wife in Vanity Fair in April. One superimposed Ioffe’s head on the uniform of a concentration camp inmate.

Melania Trump said the tweets against Ioffe were wrong, but she also blamed the journalist, saying that she had “provoked” Trump supporters.

Donald Trump at the time said he didn’t know much about the incident and that reporters should speak to the people who wrote the tweets.

Rosenberg said the online harassment does not make him scared, because he considers perpetrators “pathetic,” and on the fringes of society. Trump is “last gasp.”

“But if Trump wins,” Rosenberg added, “all bets are off.”

Greenblatt said he fears that the attacks on Jewish journalists could have a chilling effect on journalism and free speech in general. He called on Twitter to better police itself.

He notes that the ADL and Twitter have worked together on the issue, and that Twitter deleted 21 percent of the most problematic accounts. “The challenge is they didn’t suspend the other 79 percent,” Greenblatt added.

According to The New York Times, Twitter responded to the ADL report with a statement saying that the company’s policy prohibits anti-Semitic content and that it has plans to introduce new policies and tools to make users feel safe.

The Times also referred to a statement from Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks on the ADL’s findings: “We have no knowledge of this activity and strongly condemn any commentary that is anti-Semitic,” adding, “We totally disavow hateful rhetoric online or otherwise.”

Anti-Semitism has been rising in Europe — both from the right and the left — in past years with the ascent of right-wing parties and an increasing animus toward Israel that often expresses itself as anti-Semitism against European Jews. Last week, a multiparty British Parliamentary committee lambasted the leftist Labour Party for its tolerance of anti-Semitism within its ranks and also singled out Twitter as a means by which anti-Semitism is spreading.

Jews have long felt safer in the U.S., where they are at the top of the list of most admired religious groups. Still, recent studies have also shown spikes in anti-Semitic incidents on this side of the Atlantic, with violent incidents against Jews increasing 50 percent in 2015 from the previous year.

Advisers to the ADL Task Force on Harassment and Journalism included Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; Brad Hamm, dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University; and Shawn Henry, retired executive assistant director of the FBI.

The ADL task force in future plans to suggest guidelines and policies to combat hate speech online.

 

About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)

46 Comments

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  • The Jews were hated unfairly long before 1947. I have plenty of criticism toward the nation of Israel for its dealings with the Palestinians but I have no animosity for the Jewish religion or hatred of individuals who are Jewish. You can’t see the difference. A non-Jew using the term “Zionist” is a sure sign of a bigot.

  • It is not right, nor proper, to engage in anti-Semitism any time, anywhere, for any reason (a very loose paraphrase of Calvin Coolidge speaking on another topic).

  • Oh, for Christ’s sake! It’s the Left that is anti-Israel, anti-religious freedom, and anti-Semitic in policy!

  • Doing some post-graduate work at Stanford a few years ago I learned that when occurrences happen together, it ‘s really naive to conclude that one caused the other. I’m betting these thin-skinned Jewish journalists are just seeing the natural effects of individuals being set free from polical correctness by Trump’s rise. This gives them licenseto be more outspoken about groups who’ve been flying under radar, pushing their cause.

  • Trump who is the chosen one for channeling every form of hate and bigotry that is alive and well in these United States would deny of course that he is anti Semitic just as he denies after being caught in “locker room banter” denies he is anti woman but as the Christian Scriptures reminds us it is by the fruits of one’s actions that reveals the truth not the rhetoric. The people who hate Jews are the same thick grizzled so called “conservatives”who hate Black folkes, Native Americans, Asians, Hispanics and anyone who is not a reproduction of themselves. These are the people who celebrate the Wounded Knee Massacre,the birth of the KKK, and “separate but equal” just to mention a few and who worship the Golden Calf in all his greed and oppression. Lastly it is interesting that the charge of a “Jewish conspiracy” is right out of the Nazis propaganda book. If you hate the Jews or anyone for that matter you are a bigot and servant of the Devil!

  • “European Jewish convert descendants against real Semitic peoples”

    Even Neo-Nazi David Duke advises its readers not to use that argument anymore because it makes them look stupider than usual.
    [I am not going to post a link to that turd, you can google it “kazar david duke”]

  • “The Jews were HATED UNFAIRLY long before 1047″…..

    Says who……you? Define “unfairly”. Is this not a very subjective term. Jewish people have been removed from over 100 Nation States.

    Ever ask the question as to “why”? No one ever talks about the ‘why’. Well maybe….just maybe…..Jews as a collective are not the best citizens. If White people knew how the Jewish Elite work tirelessly to destroy White civilization — See Barbara Lerner Spectre — then maybe they have every right to be mad!

    Jews first declared war on Germany! The Germans had every right to remove Jews from their State. (The nsdap did not gas Jews. There was no campaign for a systematic genocide. The nsdap simply wanted Jews out of their country)

  • Great comment. Almost too academic though. Not sure anyone will understand the point you are making.
    Just keep it simple. Google — Barbara Lerner Spectre — and see how people may be a little upset.

  • I have changed my mind and am supporting Hillary.Why? because their are more left wing anti-semites in her camp than in the right wing.Plus with Hilary as President,She will bring down this corrupt mess and we start all over,

  • The Book of Revelation was written by a Jew, Jesus who is the Word not the Bible is a Jew, the Mother of Jesus is a Jew!
    You obviously have not a clue as the why the Book of Revelation was written by John if he indeed wrote it nor to whom it was written. Rest assured it was NOT written for a group of ill-informed 21st century “end timers”nor for a group of myth tellers who have made millions off this heresy and misuse of said Book “Huh”

  • Well there’s a white supremacist, anti semite, Holocaust denier in full bloom. Roy, you should be ashamed of yourself. Should be, but I doubt it.

    RNS and Disqus, is it your policy to allow this kind of bizarre hate speech on your website?

  • You just proved your ignorance and or stupidity. Jesus was not a Jew. He was a Galilean from the tribe of Judah.

    Read Benjamin Freedman’s article — Jesus was not a Jew. http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/jesusjew.htm

    “Judea and Galilee were two separate states and political entities, as illustrated on the map of Palestine in the time of our Saviour in your Bible. Jesus Himself was not a Jew (Judean) or resident of Judea, He was a Galilean or resident of Galilee (Matthew 26:69; John 7:41), and a Judahite or descendent of the Tribe of Judah. The Judeans of prominence were not of the Tribe of Judah, but of Edomites. Pilate was being ironic when he wrote the sign “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Judeans” for the Cross (John 19:19). That is, “the Galilean who was King of the Judeans,” as in “Queen Victoria of England, Empress of India.” Jesus grew up in Nazareth in Galilee. His disciples were fishermen from the Sea of Galilee. And although He visited Jerusalem, he spent most of His life in his home country of Galilee”

  • Re: “Well maybe….just maybe…..Jews as a collective are not the best citizens.”

    Maybe … just maybe … anti-Semites are even worse citizens than they imagine Jews are.

    Oh wait. Strike that. They actually are terrible citizens.

    Re: “Jews first declared war on Germany!”

    Really!? When did this occur? May I read the document in which that declaration was made? Please also let me know who drafted, approved, and signed it. Thank you.

    Re: “The Germans had every right to remove Jews from their State.”

    That isn’t all they did.

    Re: “The nsdap did not gas Jews. There was no campaign for a systematic genocide. The nsdap simply wanted Jews out of their country”

    Oh, so you’re even worse than just being a plain old ignorant anti-Semite who makes up crap like a Jewish declaration of war on Germany. You’re a Holocaust-denying anti-Semite who makes up even worse crap than a Jewish declaration of war on Germany.

  • Ah. So your supposed “Jewish declaration of war on Germany” isn’t actually a document written and approved by a legally-constituted body of Jews. Instead, it just happens to be a newspaper headline written by an editor at a British newspaper, at the top of a story about an anti-Nazi boycott that took place in 1933 … only after your friend Adolf rose to power on a wave of anti-Semitic rhetoric and promises. Not before. Meaning, your friend Adolf wasn’t reacting to this so-called “Jewish declaration of war” … instead, he’d precipitated the boycott that was inaccurately portrayed in one newspaper as “a Jewish declaration of war.”

    Have you any idea how incredibly stupid that is? No, I guess you don’t, because if you actually knew anything, you wouldn’t be an ignorant, Holocaust-denying anti-Semite who makes up crap like a Jewish declaration of war on Germany.

  • Did you also go run and tell your friends in their basements typing their ignorant anti-Semitic bilge into their keyboards over on Stormfront and your other hangouts?

  • From your ignorant Web page: “Jesus was a ‘Judean’, not a Jew.”

    I bet you had no idea that the word “Jew” comes from — get this! — “Judean”! Yes, indeed, that’s the etymology of the word “Jew.” But you don’tknow that. You don’t actually know much of anything other than you hate Jews. And you just manufacture crap that, you think, grants you license to continue in your bigotry.

    You know, ignorance this profound would normally be comical, if not for the fact that it sits on a foundation of festering hatred.

  • There is an old Yiddish proverb that says if you argue with a fool and a stranger passes by he wont know who is the fool. But just so everyone will know who your “source” is “He was a financial backer of the author Conde McGinley, publisher of the antisemitic periodical Common Sense.[15][16][17][18][19] In the 1955 libel trial by Rabbi Joachim Prinz against McGinley, Freedman testified that “he [Freedman] had given Mr. McGinley financial support of ‘more than $10,000 but less than $100,000′”.[20] Prinz had sued McGinley for calling him a “red rabbi.”

    At the Henry George School, Benjamin Freedman spoke on “The Genesis of Middle East Tensions”.[21] Long John Nebel reported on WNBC that Freedman would discuss anti-Semitism.[22] Freedman was politically active until the mid-1970s when he was well over 85 years old. He died in May 1984 at the age of 94.[23][24]

    Freedman opposed the nomination of Anna M. Rosenberg to be Assistant Secretary of Defense in 1950.[25] An article in the ADL Bulletin entitled The Plot Against Ann Rosenberg attributed the attacks on Rosenberg’s loyalty to “professional anti-Semites and lunatic nationalists,” including the “Jew-baiting cabal of John Rankin, Benjamin Freedman, and Gerald Smith.”[5]

    Freedman, an apostate Jew, was well known to the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee as an active supporter of the Arab cause in the Middle East. (fn 33) In the course of his erratic and often contradictory testimony before the Senate committee, Freedman revealed the roles played by anti-Semitic agitators and right-wing anticommunists — including Gerald L. K. Smith, Conde McGinley, the “Reverend” Wesley Swift, Congressman John Rankin, Senator Joseph McCarthy, and J.B. Matthews — in the campaign against the Rosenberg appointment. (fn 34)[5]

    He is mentioned in a report by the House Un-American Activities Committee.[26]” Lastly quoting a bigot has no merit or let alone “scholarship”

  • I do have integrity. That’s why I only believe real, verified history. Not white supremacist revisionist lying crap.

    I’m still surprised and disappointed that RNS and Disqus let lunatics like you on here. I don’t think I’ll respond any longer to vermin like you.

    Yes, that’s strong language. I reserve it for verifiable horrible people like supremacists like you, the absolute bottom of the barrel. I feel tainted, like I need a shower after engaging scum like you. Eeeuww.

  • Roy is a Neo-nazi. There is no sense in treating him like someone with an intelligent point to make.

    From his own postings:

    “Jews have been removed from White nations over 100 times.”

    “If only White people could know the true history/story of the NSDAP [the full acronym for the Nazi party], Hitler and ww2. We need a mass awakening to the Jewish Problem. Which is our number 1 problem.”

    “And you watched it, right? Sure. Have you read Mein Kampf? Probably not. Are you familiar with Carolyn Yeager’s work? Probably not. Get out of town. Another Jew Gate Keeper. With your ‘zionazi’ verbiage. Just call it what it is…………WE HAVE A JEWISH PROBLEM”

    https://disqus.com/by/royhobs/

  • Interesting how its “political correctness” when done by secular institutions. But when it is done by Fundamentalist Christians the argument is usually, “Its their institutions, they have a right to do what they want”.

    Political correctness is largely a myth. Something you see more as a thing to be opposed, than one sees actual examples of in existence. Invoking it as you do is usually just an excuse to run off offensive bigoted language in public with impunity. License to be a cretin.

    What we are seeing is people using the internet to say things that they would be embarrassed to do in public.

  • Are you the same Tom Metzger from White Aryan Resistance?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Metzger_(white_supremacist)

    Some of your posts:
    https://disqus.com/by/disqus_TBIALrf8bq/

    “Race and tribe are forever.Christianity Judaism and Islam will end up in the dustbin of history.But it’s going to take a while.”

    “Eliminate NEGRAPHILIA”

    “Real White Racist dont want to take over the Republican party.We want to destroy it! resist.com”

    What is it with the Neo-Nazis coming out of the woodwork here? Its like the servers at Stormfront were down and you guys were just looking for places to vent online.

  • Eff you! Stop with posting stuff so stupid even your fellow goose-steppers have disavowed it. DAVID DUKE even said the garbage you stated is a poor argument to make. Your own group.

    “I am Ashkenazim Jewish who had his DNA tested and while I have all kinds
    of Ashkenazim ancestry from all over Europe, it stops in the direction
    of Palestine at Uzbekistan, in the heart of the old Khazar kingdom”

    I think you are a liar who is posting stuff online because you are too cowardly to demonstrate your white supremacist nonsense in public otherwise.

  • Hey dumbbunny, you have to be a truly ignorant lying turd to be a Holocaust denier these days. The entire spiel was already laid bare for the world to see and destroyed piece by piece in open court. No go eff yourself.
    https://www.hdot.org/

  • Is Democracy Now for cats too, and not a source of information? The Left will be upset with your implication.

  • I have been around for decades before we ever heard of storm front. I have produced hundreds of TV shows and radio shows .Resist.com

  • I knew the name was familiar.

    Its good to know. This way none of the regular posters here mistakes you for a reasonable person worth taking seriously.

  • Anyone can post to Youtube. Short of using copyrighted material or NSFW stuff, there is no filter. Certainly not an editorial one for weeding out BS. 🙂

  • Oh, I got that he’s a Neonazi. No doubt. It was obvious from the start. I was just curious about the Jewish declaration of war. As I said, if not for the bone-chilling hatred that lies behind it all, his kind of bilge might actually be funny.

  • I kinda figured he would bring up some nonsense like what he did. These guys work off of a limited pool of source material.

    Although the internet is useful for disseminating this garbage, it is also good for dismissing it as well.

  • You are a bigot and have no place on this site. I suggest you go troll where the bottom feeders live. You should be removed from this site and banned.

  • There are lots of different kinds of Zionism. You only mention one of the many forms of Zionism. It is possible to be a Zionist and support a two-state solution, for example.. European Jews are also a Semitic people. European Zionists are real Semitic people. Also about half of all Israeli Jews are from the Middle East and North Africa. somehow anti-Zionists never care about them.

  • I can say the same thing to you. Semites are groups of people who speak Semitic languages. Assimilation has been proven no to work. German and Austrian Jews were the assimilated in Europe and look what happened to them.

    You are not a geneticist nor am i, but you are just wrong. You are also a psychic who can read Jews minds. The UN created modern Israel.

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