Israeli minister, UN chief agree to combat antisemitism online

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, who was also present at the meeting, said Israel will be a "pioneer in a global war for the truth."

 (L-R) Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel andUN Secretary-General António Guterres at the UN's New York headquarters on October 22, 2021 (photo credit: COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY)
(L-R) Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel andUN Secretary-General António Guterres at the UN's New York headquarters on October 22, 2021
(photo credit: COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY)

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and UN Secretary-General António Guterres met in New York on Friday and agreed to join forces to combat hate speech, incitement and antisemitism online.

Hendel, who arrived in New York after a three-day visit to Washington DC, shared with Guterres news of the committee that he has decided to establish to review the status of social media networks in Israel and whether they can be defined as media organizations, thereby giving the courts the ability to hold them accountable for content that they publish.

"We are in a war for the truth and in stopping incitement and hate speech," Hendel said. "Israel will be a pioneer in this battle."

Hendel, Guterres, and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan discussed the influence that algorithms hold over the emotions of teens and the need for a binding, international regulation which puts responsibility on the social media companies.

Erdan noted that inciting content on Israeli channels of social media platforms is directly connected to terror attacks in Israel.

 (L-R) Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel on October 22, 2021 (credit: COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY) (L-R) Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel on October 22, 2021 (credit: COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY)

Hendel proposed to share the knowledge accumulated in Israel in these areas, partly due to committees he seeks to establish in the Communications and Justice ministries to examine ways to rein in social media companies and make them accountable for the content that appears on their platforms.

In the meeting, Gutteres said advanced infrastructure to tackle such algorithms, which "encourage hate speech and polarization," are a priority for the UN.