ADL Condemns Anti-Semitic Harassment of Journalists on Twitter

In a press release, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemns anti-Semitic harassment of journalists on Twitter. The press release details the ADL’s Task Force on Harassment and Journalism’s new report “detailing a troubling, year-long rise in anti-Semitic hate targeting journalists on Twitter.”

What is remarkable is that you don’t even have to be Jewish to be the recipient of anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter. You only have to be critical of Donald Trump. Somehow, apparently, that automatically makes you Jewish. Which says a lot more about Trump’s supporters than his opponents.

According to the ADL,

“More than two-thirds (68 percent) of the anti-Semitic tweets directed at those journalists were sent by 1,600 Twitter accounts (out of 313 million existing Twitter accounts). These aggressors are disproportionately likely to self-identify as Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, or part of the ‘alt-right,’ a loosely connected group of extremists, some of whom are white supremacists.”

The report explains,

There is evidence that a considerable number of the anti-Semitic tweets targeting journalists originate with people identifying themselves as Trump supporters, “conservatives” or extreme right-wing elements. The words that show up most in the bios of Twitter user’s sending anti-Semitic tweets to journalists are “Trump,” “nationalist,” “conservative,” “American” and “white.” This finding does not imply that Mr. Trump supported these tweets, or that conservatives are more prone to anti-Semitism. It does show that the individuals directing anti-Semitism toward journalists self-identified as Trump supporters and conservatives

It is no surprise that Trump supporters are prominent among the offenders, given the composition of his base. And Trump himself has not only declined to rebuke the anti-Semitism of his followers, but has himself used anti-Semitic tropes in alluding to Hillary Clinton’s alleged collusion with “international banking.” It’s not surprising Trump doesn’t like banks much. No American bank is dumb enough to do business with him. But that does not excuse his appeal to Nazi imagery.

And we have seen how Trump supporters have singled out journalists for attack, proposing they be killed to teach them a lesson and, apparently through fear and intimidation, toe the Trump line. Katy Tur, who has been singled out for abuse by Trump, of NBC News tweeted just yesterday that,

Awful as Tur’s experiences are, the ADL draws attention to the fact that,

“The top 10 most targeted journalists – all of whom are Jewish – received 83 percent of those 19,253 tweets. The top 10 includes conservative columnist Ben Shapiro, Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman, and CNN’s Sally Kohn and Jake Tapper.”

The ADL report identifies the cause of the normalization of anti-Semitic language:

The report, the first of its kind, presents findings based on a broad set of keywords (and keyword combinations) designed by ADL to capture anti-Semitic language on social media. Using this metric, a total of 2.6 million tweets containing language frequently found in anti-Semitic speech were posted across Twitter between August 2015 and July 2016. Those tweets had an estimated 10 billion impressions (reach), which ADL believes contributed to reinforcing and normalizing anti-Semitic language – particularly racial slurs and anti-Israel statements — on a massive scale.

ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt says,

“The spike in hate we’ve seen online this election cycle is extremely troubling and unlike anything we have seen in modern politics. A half century ago, the KKK burned crosses. Today, extremists are burning up Twitter. We are concerned about the impact of this hate on the ability of journalists to do their job and on free speech, which is why we established this Task Force. We hope this report hastens efforts to combat the surge of hate on social media. We look forward to working with Twitter, media companies, and other online platforms to limit hate and harassment and preserve freedom of speech.”

Trump’s base doesn’t view their racism as actual racism, on the grounds that if it’s a fact it can’t be racism. Never mind that their facts are anything but. The anti-Semitic tropes raised by Trump and his surrogates are just the most recent examples of an age-old anti-Semitism fueled by the bogus “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

This document, a product of the Russian Tsar’s secret police, based on older material, at the end of the 19th century. It supposedly describes a Jewish plan to rule the world, and is based on attitudes dating back to the Crusades, when Crusaders would slaughter Jews (and other Christians) along their route, on the way to slaughtering Muslims at their destination.

It is profoundly sad that such attitudes should not only persist today, but be championed by a nominee for President of the United States.