“Prior to the election of President Donald Trump, anti-Semitic harassment and attacks were rare and unexpected, even for Jewish Americans who were prominently situated in the public eye. Following his election, anti-Semitism has become normalized and harassment is a daily occurrence,” the study concludes. “The platforms [Facebook and Twitter] are key facilitators of this anti-Semitic harassment.”
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Researchers analyzed more than 7.5 million tweets and interviewed Jews in politics and journalism to track anti-Semitic harassment and disinformation about Jewish Americans on social media. They found a “marked rise in the number of online attacks” against the Jewish community, with anti-Semitism more prevalent on Twitter than Facebook, and bots playing a major role in spreading hateful rhetoric and harassment. Nearly 30 percent of the accounts used to spread anti-Semitism online were determined to be likely bots, according to researchers. And about 80 percent of the accounts, human and bot, were associated with the right wing of the political spectrum, with many also using the #MAGA hashtag.
References to George Soros, the Jewish billionaire whose name has been used as right-wing shorthand for alleged Jewish conspiracies that control the media and politics, were by far the most common talking points found. Soros was one of the recipients of suspicious packages sent by Cesar Sayoc, dubbed the “MAGAbomber,” who targeted several high-profile critics of Donald Trump.
The bomber and the shooter in Pittsburgh are two examples of the real-life consequences of anti-Semitic rhetoric becoming more commonplace and accepted, an escalation that logically follows the increases in vandalism, harassment, assault, and anti-Semitic misinformation noted by the ADL.
With black men being shot by police, immigrants and asylum seekers being deported and separated from their children, and trans women murdered at alarming rates, Jewish people have not been front and center in discussions about discrimination and hate crimes in America. But this past week has made it clear — if the ADL’s statistics didn’t already — that the threat of anti-Semitism in this country is very real, and on the rise.