NCYI calls on social media to adopt international antisemitism definition

Both Twitter and Facebook have been criticized for allowing antisemitic content to remain on their sites.

The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017 (photo credit: REUTERS/THOMAS WHITE)
The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017
(photo credit: REUTERS/THOMAS WHITE)
The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) has called upon social media platforms to adopt no-tolerance policies against antisemitism and anti-Israel content, in accordance with the international working definition of antisemitism.
Questioning why Twitter allowed calls by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the destruction of the Jewish people to remain on its site while taking action against President Trump for violating its "hateful content policy," the NCYI further challenged the social media sites over an apparent double standard when it comes to antisemitism.
“Advocating the obliteration of the Jewish people and the state of Israel is inflammatory and incites a degree of antisemitism and anti-Israel animosity that has no place on Twitter’s platform,” NCYI President Farley Weiss said.
Furthermore, the NCYI reiterated calls it has made previously to remove Holocaust survivors from its site. In 2018, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the company's policy of allowing Holocaust denial to remain on the site, saying in an interview: "I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong."
The NCYI noted that Facebook has deleted numerous odious posts after Germany enacted a law several years ago that banned online hate speech, and that while antisemitic posts may not be illegal in the United States, there is no question that they epitomize hate speech.
“By allowing open calls for Israel’s destruction and permitting Holocaust deniers to perpetuate their misguided and hate-filled myths about the murder of six-million Jews, Twitter and Facebook are turning a blind eye to the dangers of antisemitism and disregarding their own guidelines relating to hateful conduct on their respective platforms, Weiss said. "Ignoring antisemitism while cracking down on other types of questionable posts is arbitrary and capricious and signifies a double standard that cannot be allowed to continue.”
In particular, it was this piecemeal approach to the problem which raised the most concern, as it suggests that the social media platforms have a blind spot when it comes to antisemitism.
“Their current interpretation of ‘hate speech’ leaves a lot to be desired, and the haphazard application of their own guidelines when it comes to hateful conduct is disingenuous," Weiss said. "Claiming that you are committed to combating hatred and prejudice on your platform is hypocritical when you in fact provide a public forum for antisemites to spew their hatred and Holocaust deniers and Israel-haters to post with impunity. You cannot purport to be condemning hate speech when you in fact condone it by willfully allowing it to fester on your site."
He continued: “We call upon social media platforms, such and Twitter and Facebook, to use the international working definition of antisemitism, which was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2016 and is utilized by the US State Department, and which includes various anti-Israel activities.”
Following Khamenei's tweet, Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs Orit Farkash-Hacohen wrote to the social media platform requesting the removal of Khamenei’s tweets, in accordance with Twitter’s own rules. In response, the company replied that the Ayatollah’s tweets did not violate their rules. “Presently, our policies with regards to world leaders state that direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on current affairs, or strident statements of foreign policy on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules,” Sinéad McSweeney, Twitter’s Vice President of EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Public Policy, wrote in response.
According to Twitter’s “Hateful Conduct Policy,” users “may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”
“Our assessment is that tweets you have cited are not in violation of our policies at this time," McSweeney wrote. "They fall into the category of foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues of our approach to world leaders.”