It was in March 2017 when I was summoned to advise Messrs. Daniel Thürer, François Santangelo and Wolfgang Becktel, members of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI). The European Union was apparently shocked by the preliminary results of the recent continental survey that took place to understand the situation of antisemitism in Europe (which was no surprise to us Jews).
One of the novel situations (for European officials) was the perception of the influence of media in the exponential increase of antisemitism. I tried to explain to them in about 20 minutes, and it led me to develop a quasi-new theory of communication.
I asked them to attentively walk with me through the following logic: media communication products are not just a set of texts and images specially extracted from reality, cut, edited and reassembled to later be presented to consumers as an informative fast food; rather they operate as a commodity. How to make a compound of words and images to automatically generate profit, just as a commodity would? Through polemic and controversy.
That is why antisemitism is profitable. Media that produces this type of content use the prejudices and latent intuitions in society to generate polemic through their controversial content. In this way they achieve an infinite amount of clicks and reproductions of their media products, making them go viral; and thus the machine, the communication commodity, gets automated.
Part of the reality that makes Jews distrust, demonstrating as such in the streets of any European capital, is not only the fear of being insulted, assaulted, physically attacked or in the worst case, killed by the extreme Left, the racist Right or radical Islam. Part of this reality is not merely serving a national-political agenda as in medieval Christian Europe or the Islamic Middle East of recent times.
Much of the responsibility for this horrendous reality against the most persecuted ‘minoritarian’ minority in world history is the result of certain communicational interests in generating revenue through the production of controversial content that can go viral.
It is enough just to look at the flood of antisemitic comments that consumers leave in each of the defamatory publications that obsessively and sickly focus almost exclusively against the only Jewish state on earth. And I am just talking about western media like the BBC or DW, not counting those promoted by questionable democracies or directly Islamic monarchies, such as RT or Al Jazeera.
It is difficult to think of the monumental effort that the algorithms of traditional social networks such as Facebook or YouTube (with which these media are associated and publish their digital communication products daily) have to make to filter all this xenophobic, racist and antisemitic content. It is a mediatic pogrom where a multitude of commentators and users are ready to digitally lynch and stone anyone who dares to comment in favor, not only of the Jewish state, but in defense of the minoritarian minority.
THIS BUSINESS of playing with the social psyche through antisemitic defamation 2.0, led me to witness grotesque spectacles such as that of Al Jazeera (again, a state company of an Islamic theocratic monarchy that finances Hamas) when in a digital publication in 2019 blamed the Jews for their own Holocaust.
That same year there was a debate on the British social network Intelligence Squared, exposed by a BBC presenter, in which it was openly and publicly argued whether what we (the Jews) say about ourselves are lies and falsehoods, or not.
To counter the view that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, there was a fringe Israeli historian accompanied by an employee of that state broadcast company of the same Islamic theocracy that finances Hamas. It was a sort of digital auto de fé where Jews had to testify in front of a tribunal as to why they should believe them or not.
It is not difficult to find in each of these kinds of debates, an audience excitedly booing against the Jewish point of view. An angry mob which, if society and culture would have allowed it, would throw stones if they were given them.
This game of lies and defamations has penetrated so deeply into the collective psyche that the mediatic and digital pogrom has managed to institute false premises as absolute truths in the highest global diplomatic bodies. Establishing an illusionary relationship that falls on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, where what the scientific and academic community has established as reality, is completely inconsequential in the face of a narrative that can be televised, mediated, published and ‘viralized’ without owing historical or moral correspondence, nor explanations to anyone.
THE MEDIATIC pogrom has not only succeeded establishing in the collective unconscious the inverted proposition that Jews are invaders, colonialists and murderers who came to deprive the ancient Palestinian people of their ancestral land; rather, it seems to have caused a sort of collective amnesia, where the wars of 1948, 1967, 1973 and the subsequent intifadas never existed. A reality that seems to have eradicated the genocidal antisemitic goal of pan-Arabism to eliminate the Jewish state from the face of the earth.
An already practically disintegrated pan-Arabism in which the only thing that keeps it alive as an ideology is its caboose, the Palestinian cause. Palestinians were always at the center of the pan-Arab cause, to their fortune and misfortune. But the mediatic-digital pogrom, now political-diplomatic, even philosophical, has no qualms about holding the Arab countries accountable for being the absolute responsible for the plight of the Palestinians. When it was they, without any doubt, who dragged them into the ensuing wars with Israel, which they subsequently lost.
In this way, once the socio-historical lobotomy is practiced, the culprits are the Jews.
Therefore, it is very common today to hear, in the highest spheres of culture, that the Jewish state is the only global player responsible for the Palestinians’ situation.
A twisted historical contortion equivalent to accusing the Allies for the terrible conditions of Germans during World War II, or the South Koreans for the horrible situation in which the North Koreans find themselves.
The recent implementation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism by more and more organizations, governments and countries is definitely a positive thing – although late.
The conceptual damage perpetrated is so great that any hasbara (public diplomacy) policy seems almost ridiculous. And the responsibility has always been ours. Once established that Arabs could not materially destroy Israel, this Jewish-Israeli tactic of “let the mad scream, no one will listen to them” was an absolute strategic disaster. Consequence of the innate Jewish attitude for conformity and appeasement.
What to do then? What is the Jewish response to this antisemitic persecution of words and ideas?
If we really want a game-changing strategy to counter the mediatic pogrom and its consequences, I believe the time has come to implement what in krav maga is called bursting: defending and attacking at the same time. A sort of discursive Iron Dome that tilts the current “reactive” narrative method into proactive, assertive and bulletproof communication solutions; and thus influences the deed for a new global state of affairs relative to the perception of the Jews and their only state.
Dr. Julio Levit Koldorf, PhD., Communication and Information Sciences, University of Zaragoza and University of Barcelona, Spain, is the former vice-president of Sefarad Aragón NGO. He has published in media from Argentina, Spain, UK and Israel; given lectures around Spain; and have briefed institutions like the Ministry of Justice of Spain and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), to instruct all of them on antisemitism and the situation of Jewish communities in Europe.