Kantor Center urges Facebook to adopt international definition of antisemitism to fight online prejudice
TAU-based center joins campaign by 125 international organizationsSupport Tel Aviv University
The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University has joined 125 international organizations, both Jewish and non-Jewish, that published a joint call to Facebook on August 10, 2020. They urged Facebook to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism in order to fight online prejudice.
According to the IHRA’s definition, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Despite prior efforts, social networks haven’t yet officially adopted a clear policy regarding racism and antisemitism, which permits antisemitic posts in the name of the freedom of speech. It should be noted that, up until now, around 40 countries and many organizations have adopted the IHRA’s Working Definition of Antisemitism.
Prof. Dina Porat, Head of the Kantor Center at TAU, was among those who formulated the international definition. She emphasizes that in the last few months, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s been a spike in blatant antisemitic statements on social networks worldwide.
Prof. Porat says that most of the incitement on social networks, including Facebook, originates with extremist organizations, which interpret “freedom of speech” as “freedom of incitement.” “We see antisemitic expressions even among young people who post offensive posts on social networks and spread them to various user communities worldwide. Unfortunately, social networks, Facebook included, that do not block or remove offensive posts are giving a platform to those dangerous sayings, even without meaning it.
“The IHRA Definition has become a yard stick, a declaration of values: Those who join its adoption are committed to countering of antisemitism, and of other parallel evils,” Prof. Porat adds. “It’s high time that the major social networks, Facebook first and foremost, use the IHRA definition as a criteria to identify antisemitic expressions, and uproot them immediately, thus exercising their responsibility to help create a world better than the one we are living in.”