Anti-Semitism 2.0: Just hit Enter

by Maskil on July 16, 2008

I received this link to the ADL site from our friends over at GIYUS (Give Israel Your United Support), and thought it was worthwhile sharing. Here’s the weighty part of what they’re saying:

Help ADL fight the next generation of online extremismAnti-Semitism 2.0, a new explosion of online hate, is extremely dangerous to Jews and to Israel, with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propagandists attracting tens of thousands of viewers.

For example, on the extremely popular Facebook social networking site there is a group called “Israel” is not a country!… Delist it from Facebook as a country! This group has more than 40,000 members and includes more than 100,000 comments posted by readers. Much of the content posted (and other online forums like it) is strongly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

I have to admit that – because I’m reluctant to see every bruising encounter between Gentile and Jew as anti-Semitism – I’ve never been a big fan of the ADL. If someone dislikes some or all the Jews he or she has personally encountered, that is not anti-Semitism. As soon as he or she forms or adopts and promotes theories to explain this dislike, and applies it to all the Jews who have ever lived, that’s anti-Semitism.

Having said that, the last decades of the 20th Century and the first decade of this one have seen a massive explosion in anti-Semitic words and – to a lesser extent – deeds; what I’ve referred to elsewhere as a latter day War Against the Jews.

The main thrust of what the ADL refers to as “Anti-Semitism 2.0” has been the de-legitimisation of Israel. Principled criticism of certain Israeli government policies gradually or quickly degenerate into an anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist bias. From there, the slide into the anti-Semitic camp is almost inevitable. The existence of a multitude of self-publishing tools on the Web (blogs, comments, forums, talkbacks, and websites) has given this hatred a voice and a reach unheard of before.

It doesn’t help that Israeli government policy in the disputed territories (mainly Judea and Samaria, i.e. the West Bank) has given the haters a respectable stick with which to beat us. Perhaps this should be referred at the Israeli government lack of policy, because Israel’s activities and foreign and defence policy here have been dictated by the minority settler enterprise rather than the government of the day or the beliefs of the majority.

As a consequence, many Jews who are uncomfortable with the situation in the disputed territories (especially given how it’s portrayed in the media) are gravitating towards the Down with Israel camp and – justifiably in some cases – meeting with accusations of self-hatred.

By now, it’s probably too late for a change in policy in the disputed territories to make a difference to the hate campaign; it has attained a mass and momentum independent of the original motives. That doesn’t mean that such a policy change should not be made, however.

If you believe petitions can change things, this would be a good one to sign. Be aware of anti-Semitism on the Web. Don’t take it lightly. Respond to it, report it, don’t simply ignore it. The word precedes the deed, and this campaign to delegitimize Israel is not an end in itself. It is merely laying the groundwork for the next step, whatever it may be and for whomever cares to take it.

In the information age, Anti-Semitism 2.0 is the equivalent of pamphlets, Protocols and book burnings, all happening at the speed of light.

End of rant.

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