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Let’s be worthy ambassadors for Jewry

  • JeffKatz
Confronting the problem of online racism continues to be a dominating subject in the media, with many public figures and commentators adding their voices to the debate.
by JEFF KATZ | Jan 20, 2016

The process of naming and shaming those who propagate hatred on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity or other such grounds is often an effective way of discouraging such offensive conduct.

Another useful avenue for combating online hate is through reporting the offending page to Facebook or Twitter. Practical guidelines on how to do this can be accessed on the Board’s Facebook page (June 2015).

That our own community, and Jews in general, are frequently the targets of cyber-racism is something we have to confront on an ongoing basis. In addition to what we do, there are a host of individual community members who are active in this regard, with some having set up Facebook pages and websites specifically to expose and respond to anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attacks.

Certainly, a lot is being accomplished by these volunteer activists and the Board has on a number of occasions taken action in response to what its research has brought to light.

The late Maurice Ostroff, a former community member who settled in Israel, was an outstanding example of how much just one individual can achieve in the field of Israel advocacy through persistent and thorough research of the relevant facts and, perhaps above all, by presenting one’s case in a measured, non-confrontational, non-offensive manner.

It is this last aspect of responding to racist online attacks on Jews and/or Israel, that I urge our community to take cognisance of when it comes to posting material online.

What has become a cause for some concern is how in certain cases, members of our community have responded to anti-Semitism by posting blatantly offensive - including racist - comments of their own. This can never be justified, no matter what the provocation and it all but sabotages the Board’s efforts to bring to public attention the potential dangers of rising anti-Semitism in our country.

Particularly in these sensitive times, we all need to weigh our words extremely carefully, which does not mean only avoiding unnecessarily provocative language, but ensuring that what one writes is not open to misinterpretation. Explaining after the fact what one really meant is, at best, a partial remedy.

What is true in terms of what one writes in the public domain is also true of how Jews conduct themselves in the wider society. Unfairly or not, the negative actions of individuals reflect on the entire group to which they belong.

We all need to be aware that when engaging with others, we represent not just ourselves as individuals, but to some degree the Jewish community as a whole. In a very real sense, we are all de facto ambassadors for Jewry, and for that reason, should always strive to conduct our affairs in an honest and ethical manner.



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