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Brackets (((echo))) a secret way to target Jews

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ANT KATZ

Have you received a text, e-mail, tweet or other media message in which the sender puts his or her name between three brackets, like (((name)))? If not, you may soon do because millions of Jews are embracing a practice of bracketing their own names in solidarity with their kin who were victims of a recently uncovered plot by Jew-haters of branding Jews with an untraceable three brackets around their surnames. 

This bizarre episode came to light after Jonathan Weisman, deputy Washington editor of the New York Times, became the first known victim of this two-year-old, secret anti-Semitic venture by a group of Trump supporters. 

Nazi Jewish StarThis led two journalists to investigate and, earlier this month they published an exposé on news site Mic.com of Jew-haters who have been “hiding in plain sight”.

Weisman was cyber-swiped on the first day by over 100 anti-Semitic trolls after he tweeted something (Republican presidential hopeful Donald) Trump supporters didn’t like. They told him in no uncertain terms what they felt about Jews.

This campaign may be akin to the infamous yellow star the Nazis made Jews wear, except now Jews branded as targets for cyber-attacks don’t even know they wear the badge – and maybe never will.

Neo-Nazis and other anti-Semites are working under the radar, building a network of perpetrators and victims and doing it so well that neither attacker nor attacked can be rooted out.

It’s all about these brackets. After the exposé of branding Jews with untraceable brackets, more and more Jews have voluntarily branded themselves. Just as the French who last year carried banners proclaiming “Je suis Juif” (I am Jewish) – so have Jews over the past few weeks jumped in and bracketed themselves – cyber-branded themselves – proclaiming: “I am a Jew… and proud of it!”

brackets imageAnti-Semites began using the brackets encasing Jewish surnames to identify and target Jews for harassment on blogs and social media. 

Weisman’s harassment began on May 26, after he tweeted an article on Trump titled “This Is How Fascism Comes to America”. One reply began: “Hello (((Weisman))),”… The cat was out of the bag.

Weisman asked his harasser, @CyberTrump, to explain the symbol. “It’s a dog whistle, fool,” the user responded. “Belling the cat for my fellow goyim.” 

By using the brackets, @CyberTrump had alerted an army of trolls. The attacks that followed were unremitting. “The anti-Semitic hate, much of it from self-identified Trump supporters, hasn’t stopped since,” Weisman later wrote.

Among the revelations in the investigative piece, written by Cooper Fleishman and Anthony Smith, were:

–  Brackets being used for this purpose started with a hard-core, right-wing podcast called “The Daily Shoah” in 2014;

–  The symbol is used to mock and put a target on all Jews; and 

–  The symbol is not easily noticeable, nor searchable. Search engines strip punctuation from search requests.


Auschwitz 

Among the trash Weisman had to endure was a tweet with a photo of the gates of Auschwitz with the “Arbeit Macht Frei” slogan replaced with “Machen Amerika Great” – a clumsy translation of Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again”.

The Jew-hating trolls have “hidden in plain sight” for two years, say Fleishman and Smith in their exposé, Due to difficulty, or impossibility, for ordinary users to search for the ((())) symbol.

Search engines like Twitter, Google, etc strip out all brackets. “Twitter needs better tools to curb hate speech,” say Fleishman and Smith. 

It seems the neo-Nazis discovered a brilliant loophole – a code that’s difficult to filter, whose meaning incites waves of hate before the target realises what’s happening.

Jewish writers can report those tweets all they want, but the damage ((())) sets into motion may only be beginning.


The origin of (((echoes)))

The Daily Shoah podcast on a right-wing blog, the Right Stuff, featured a segment called “Merchant Minute” that gave Jewish names a cartoonish “echo” sound effect when uttered. The “bracket meme,” as Right Stuff editors call it, is a visual pun.

In an e-mail to Fleishman and Smith, the editors of the Right Stuff said it is also intended as a critique of “Jewish power”. They explained further:

“The inner brackets represent the Jews’ subversion of the home https://www.sajr.co.za/images/default-source/default-album/brackets—twitter.jpg” class=”sfImageWrapper”>Brackets - twitter


RIGHT: How the trolls attacked someone at at Mic.com…



 “We got off easy – just a flood of memes in our timelines, a few ‘kike’ insults hurled our way,” say the authors. “Other Jewish writers have faced more serious attacks: death threats, anti-Semitic cartoons, images of concentration camp ovens and executed Jews, threatening e-mails, even home phone calls.”

“Just” Michael said: “https://www.sajr.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/brackets-example.jpg” class=”sfImageWrapper”>Brackets example


RIGHT: ((())) in action



According to Segal and other social-justice advocates who keep tabs on racist groups and hate speech, the jingoism of Trump’s presidential campaign has fuelled this sort of harassment. Trump’s xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric and policy proposals have resonated with the rebellious, belligerent, flag-waving alt-right, said Segal.

“They’ve been on a tear,” said Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Centre. “You can’t publish something about Trump right now and have any inclination of being Jewish without being trolled to hell.” She called on Trump to denounce the anti-Semitic harassment conducted in his name.

“This is the most racist invective that’s been directly involved in a presidential campaign in the last 16 years,” she said. “It’s frightening how cavalier Trump has been about these people.”

Earlier this month Twitter, Facebook, Google and Microsoft partnered with the European Union to crack down on online hate speech, pledging to delete offensive comments on their respective platforms in under 24 hours.

Karen White, Twitter’s head of public policy for Europe, says: “Hateful conduct has no place on Twitter and we will continue to tackle this issue head-on alongside our partners in industry and civil society.”



 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Gary Selikow

    Jun 30, 2016 at 11:13 am

    ‘Ant are you going to publish the news of a 13 year old girl murdered in her bed by a Palestinian savage this morning or ignore that story???’

  2. nat cheiman

    Jun 30, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    ‘What on earth will they think of next?’

  3. ChoniT

    Jul 1, 2016 at 11:28 am

    ‘I ask the same question as Gary?

    Where is the deserved outrage?’

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