How To Deal With Online Antisemitism: A Step-By-Step Guide

February 28, 2024
Mahri Wenzel

Dallas, Texas, United States

Class of 2026

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It is impossible to be Jewish online without seeing hate speech. Since the October 7th massacre, the GPAHE has recorded a 500% increase in antisemitism. In a world where anyone can say anything to millions of people across the globe, it is of the utmost importance to know how to interact with such content safely.

First, what is antisemitism?

According to Oxford, antisemitism is hostility or prejudice against Jewish people. However, such a broad definition does give enough clarity on how this can look in online speech. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance gives ten examples of how antisemitism can occur.

1. Calling, aiding, or justifying the killing/harming of Jews means radical ideology/religious extremism.

How this can look online: October 7th was a form of resistance.

2. Stereotypical/dehumanizing about Jews - including but not limited to Jews controlling the world/industries 

How this can look online: 👃🏼, 💵, ((())) (parenthesis is a dog-whistle for Jewish control)

3. Holding Jews accountable to the actions/presumed actions of one Jew

How this can look online: pedophiles (about Jefferey Epstein).

4. Holocaust denial + Jews/Israel exaggeration.

How this can look online: 617k (it was only 617,000 killed)

5. Jewish dual loyalty to Israel

How this can look online: Free Palestine comments under a video with no mention of Israel

It is important to note that such comments under a video relating to the Israel/Palestine conflict do not fall into such a category.

6. Denying Jewish self-determination (anti-Zionism)

How this can look online: From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

It is important to note that criticism of Israeli actions/government/legislation and such are not inherently antisemitic.

7. Applying double standards to the Israeli government

How this can look online: ____ should not have been arrested/reprimanded for ____ reason, thus should be punished.

It is important to note that criticism of Israeli actions/government/legislation is not inherently antisemitic.

8. Blood Libel/Death of Christ

How this can look online: Baby killers, Christ-killer

9. Comparing the Israeli government to Nazi Germany

How this can look online: literally 1939 again.

10. Holding all Jews accountable for Israeli actions

Typically, comments relating to dual loyalty can fall into this category.

It is important to note that this is a working definition, and there are exceptions. It is crucial to be mindful when determining if a comment is just mean or problematic.

Scenario #1: Dealing with antisemitism in the comment section.

Often enough, Jewish content creators (no matter how large the size) will receive hateful messages about their faith. If this is/is not in your comment section, you must handle it accordingly.

Step #1: do not interact with the user.

Interacting will only fuel the algorithm to spread more content like this to such communities. Plus, to quote Albert Einstein, “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity . . . and I’m not so sure about the universe”. Online arguments do not change their thoughts or solve the conflict. Odds are, it is only going to contribute to the problem.

Step #2: report the comment

Social media platforms have a moderator team to limit such speech. Odds are that this might not get removed, so do your part to stop as much activity online that festers such negativity.

Step #3: block the user if necessary

Through hacking or presumption, such commenters may harass you in DMs or other messages. Please protect yourself from such threats and take the first precautions.

Scenario #2: Dealing with antisemitism in the DMs.

I believe that most hate speech that the average Jew will face in their lifetime is through direct messaging from a mutual or distant friend. While these tend to be more personal and upsetting, it is the same process.

Step #1: do not interact

Serious conversations should not be happening over text. 99% of the time, people have these difficult conversations over text because they are too scared to tackle them in person. It is tempting to want to educate/correct misguidance, but it is not worth the energy if it is unproductive.

 Step #2: confront in person

If this is someone you see daily, this might be a conversation to have face-to-face. I recommend having an adult moderator to eliminate harmful speech. It is also significant to talk about how what they said was offensive: “I was hurt by ____ because ….”. If this is a friendship worth saving, I would recommend this route. 

Step #3: block/limit the user

If the hatred is a repetitive behavior, block it. It is not worth your time or energy to try to fix hatred. As Jews, we want to make the world a better place. Tikun Olam is such a prime ideal of ours, but it is also crucial to know when is the right time to make a change. An Instagram DM is not going to make that change.

If anything you see online is a DIRECT threat to your safety (ex. doxxing your location, physical violence), reach out to law enforcement immediately. It is much more important to be safe than sorry, even if it was a false claim.

You never have to sacrifice your identity over a hurtful comment. Jews are the most resilient people on earth. Every massacre, every genocide, every expulsion, we come back stronger. We always overcome every struggle we face. No matter what, this too shall pass.

Mahri is a BBG from Dallas and lives on a small farm with a bunch of rescue animals.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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