Antisemites exposed and X-cised through social media
Greg Saunders* hung his head in shame when he was marched out of his dream job, carrying just a box of his work belongings, because he had been outed for being openly antisemitic on social media.
He didn’t think his Jewish bosses would find out what he was saying on social media, and that he was pulling down posters of Israeli hostages on weekends.
Unfortunately for Saunders, social media may be a breeding ground for hate and misinformation, but it’s also a powerful tool that can be used to expose those who are engaging in harmful, discriminatory behaviour.
Many organisations, specifically those with a large social media following, have used online platforms to publicise and condemn antisemitic incidents in the hope that responsible individuals will face tangible consequences. This is how Saunders was outed for his outrageously antisemitic sentiments.
One such organisation is the watchdog group StopAntisemitism.org, which has Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) pages with more than 200 000 followers and more than 1 500 posts.
“StopAntisemitism was started in response to a growing and pervasive amount of antisemitic incidents occurring across the United States in 2018,” said Executive Director Liora Rez. “Our mission has always been to expose and create tangible consequences in response to this vile hatred. As incidents have increased in frequency and intensity, so has support for our mission.”
Its pages on Instagram and X are filled with videos of antisemitic incidents sent in by witnesses around the country, as well as antisemitic social media posts. Videos are shared to identify the perpetrators and ultimately report the incident to the individual’s workplace or university. The captions of the videos often read, “Recognise them? DM us!” and are updated when the person is identified.
According to Rez, they receive several hundred reports per day. And since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war on 7 October, their intake of incidents has grown 1 500%. “We don’t reveal specific details about our internal processes, but we thoroughly vet each report that comes in before posting about it,” she said.
The organisation has had some backlash, but according to Rez, “Any organisation that exposes hatred like we do will most certainly get it in return.” Their core belief is that “people should be made aware who among them harbours antisemitic hatred in their hearts. We expose and alert individuals to these incidents and their perpetrators to protect and preserve one of the most marginalised cultures on the globe. No-one deserves to live in a world where they must look over their shoulder every few minutes just because of their identity.”
Many of the individuals have already faced consequences from their employers. A United Airlines pilot was removed from service for investigation after calling Hamas “a brave people” in a social media post. A New York County public defender resigned from her position after a video was shared of her taking down hostage posters.
One student at Harvard Divinity School was relieved of proctor duties after participating in an antisemitic mob on campus. An update on one of StopAntisemitism’s posts about a student at Las Positas College in California, who ran towards a Jewish student yelling, “You guys are f*cking Nazis, you’re f*cking disgusting, f*cking Nazis … yahoodi sharmuta! [Jewish whore]” said that she’s “no longer a student at Las Positas College”.
“We’re grateful that companies like Apple and many medical providers have been responsive to antisemitic incidents and have acted accordingly,” said Rez.
Apple has fired two employees, one of whom called Jewish people “murderers and thieves”, and the other who made multiple comparisons between Zionism and Nazism.
A medical director at ExpertMRI was fired over a tweet that read, “Zionists are genocidal, demonic, greedy, pedophilic retards. Change my mind.” Psychology Today removed the profile of a sex therapist at Chicago Mindful Psychotherapy after a video was shared of her ripping down hostage posters and claiming that the hostages were kidnapped by Israel.
The organisation has also highlighted high-profile individuals who it believes have used their platforms to spread antisemitism, such as United States House Representative Rashida Tlaib, who was recently censured for defending the slogan “From the river to the sea”.
It has also called out the Hadid sisters, most recently calling for Gigi Hadid to be dropped by IMG Models for sharing a video claiming that Israel harvests organs from dead Palestinians.
Last week, it reported on its X feed that Susan Sarandon was dropped by her talent agency UTA for her antisemitic remarks at a rally that “there are a lot of people that are afraid, afraid to be Jewish at this time, and are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence”.
“Ultimately, we would love to live in a world where our organisation doesn’t have to exist,” said Rez “In the more immediate future, our goal is to continue exposing antisemitic perpetrators and educating [members of] the general public about what antisemitism looks like and what they should do if they witness it.
“Unfortunately, antisemitism has been on the rise over the past few years. It’s horrific, but wherever it rears its ugly head, we’ll be there to expose and hopefully squash it,” she said.
Rez said South Africans could assist by staying vigilant and supporting local Jewish organisations. “If you see something, say something – report to your local law enforcement or other authority.”
*Not his real name.