Do we really believe new EU initiative will clean up anti-Semitic and other hate speech from social media?

The European Commission together with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft have today unveiled a code of conduct that includes a series of commitments to combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.media

The code is seen as part of the response to the challenge of ensuring that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally.

While the effective application of provisions criminalising hate speech is dependent on a robust system of enforcement of criminal law sanctions against the individual perpetrators of hate speech, the Commission and IT companies recognised such work must be complemented with actions geared at ensuring illegal hate speech online is expeditiously reviewed by online intermediaries and social media platforms, upon receipt of a valid notification, in an appropriate time-frame. However, they did argue that to be considered valid in this respect, a notification should not be insufficiently precise or inadequately substantiated.

Twitter’s Head of Public Policy for Europe, Karen White, commented: “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. We remain committed to letting the Tweets flow. However, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.”

Google’s Public Policy and Government Relations Director, Lie Junius, said: “We’re committed to giving people access to information through our services, but we have always prohibited illegal hate speech on our platforms. We have efficient systems to review valid notifications in less than 24 hours and to remove illegal content.”

Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management at Facebook said: “We welcome today’s announcement and the chance to continue our work with the Commission and wider tech industry to fight hate speech. With a global community of 1.6 billion people we work hard to balance giving people the power to express themselves whilst ensuring we provide a respectful environment. As we make clear in our Community Standards, there’s no place for hate speech on Facebook. We urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate. Our teams around the world review these reports around the clock and take swift action.”

The code of conduct includes the following public commitments:

  • The IT Companies to have in place clear and effective processes to review notifications regarding illegal hate speech on their services so they can remove or disable access to such content.
  • Upon receipt of a valid removal notification, the IT Companies to review such requests against their rules and community guidelines and where necessary national laws.
  • The IT Companies to review the majority of valid notifications for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content, if necessary.
  • The IT Companies to educate and raise awareness with their users about the types of content not permitted under their rules and community guidelines.
  • The IT Companies to encourage the provision of notices and flagging of content that promotes incitement to violence and hateful conduct at scale by experts.
  • The IT Companies to provide regular training to their staff on current societal developments and to exchange views on the potential for further improvement.
  • The IT Companies to intensify cooperation between themselves and other platforms and social media companies to enhance best practice sharing.
  • The IT Companies and the European Commission, recognising the value of independent counter speech against hateful rhetoric and prejudice, aim to continue their work in identifying and promoting independent counter-narratives, new ideas and initiatives and supporting educational programs that encourage critical thinking.

However, considering the sheer scale of anti-Semitic and other hate speech that floods social media platforms and the suspect nature of the IT companies response to it, we believe many in the community will wait to see the results of this initiative in action before endorsing it.

 

Jewish actress, “I do not see beauty as an advantage against anti-Semitism”

Popular French-Israeli actress Julia Levy-Boeken said that people would be shocked at the anti-Semitic comments people say in front of her, assuming she is not Jewish.

Julia Levy-Boeken (photo from Twitter)
Julia Levy-Boeken (photo from Twitter)

In an interview with French magazine Paris Match, Levy-Boeken, who was born in France, was asked by the interviewer whether her beauty protected her from anti-Semitism? The actress responded strongly suggesting, “
I do not see beauty as an advantage against anti-Semitism.”

However, Levy-Boeken did explain, “It is precisely because of my blond hair and fair skin that many people think I’m not Jewish, and I often hear comments that they wouldn’t dare say if they knew, like, ‘They [Jews] are everywhere’ or, ‘We are no longer the majority here.’ This has shocked me more than anything.”

Levy-Boeken is best known for her roles in the movie “World War Z,” the HBO hit series “Entourage” and the Israeli hit drama Ha-Alufa, where she played an American spy working for the Mossad.

The French-Israeli actress plays a small part in the upcoming controversial comedic movie “They Are Everywhere,” which critically examines anti-Semitism in France. Directed by French-Israeli director Yvan Attal, the film centres on a Jewish man (played by Attal himself) who attends therapy sessions to talk about how he was persecuted by growing anti-Semitism in France. His sessions are punctuated by a series of tragi-comic short stories showcasing the most tenacious anti-Semitic stereotypes.

UK government shamefully slow in condemning Iran’s Holocaust denial contest

Despite much of the Western world condemning Iran for its state sponsored Holocaust denial cartoon competition weeks ago, the UK government has only just done so.

The UK Foreign Office statement said:

“The UK condemns any activities aimed at denying the reality of the Holocaust, wherever they occur in the world. British officials in Iran have raised our strong objections to the cartoon competition which is being held there.”

Note that the statement does not even have a UK government minister’s name assigned to it, merely labelled as coming from a spokesperson.

Anti-Semitic graffiti - is there any difference with Iran's state sponsored Holocaust denial cartoon contest?
Anti-Semitic graffiti – is there any difference with Iran’s state sponsored Holocaust denial cartoon contest?

Considering the UK has been at the forefront of education regarding the Holocaust, being one of the first countries to adopt Holocaust Memorial Day as a state sponsored commemoration, its inaction over Iran’s disgusting state sponsored event is even more shocking.

The Tehran government provides $50,000 for the winner of the vile event, hosted in June 2016. Hundreds of submissions are expected from the Islamic world. Last year, Iran received 839 anti-Semitic cartoons for consideration.

Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said in January 2016, “This anti-Semitic act represents the pure evil of the Iranian regime. Denying the Holocaust is one of the most powerful expressions of anti-Semitism, which legitimizes the deaths of millions of Jews.”

Even UNESCO, which recently tried to redact world history  by changing its language for the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, acquiescing by the Palestinian Authority that it refer to the site using the term “Al-Aqsa mosque” only, condemned the cartoon contest as far back as March.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova condemned the contest during a meeting with World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer in Paris. It led Singer to say, “On behalf of the World Jewish Congress, I would like to thank Director-General Bokova for….. her condemnation of Iran’s Holocaust cartoons contest.” 

Turkish Jewish wedding shown live on social media draws anti-Semitic influx

The small Jewish community in Edirne, in northwest Turkey, has waited patiently since 1976 for a wedding in its local synagogue – and when it finally occurred yesterday, the response it drew from other Turks was less than celebratory.

Edirne

The wedding was set to be such a significant and joyous event that it was decided to broadcast it via Periscope and Twitter – a particularly popular social medium in Turkey. However, it drew the attention of anti-Semites in the country, and the bride, groom and Jewish community in general were told, “Too bad Hitler didn’t finish the job” and the like.

Edirne has a Jewish history of some 1,500 years, but just 50 years ago, only 100 Jews lived in Edirne. Finally, the local Jewish cemetery there was confiscated by the authorities, and then destroyed to make way for a residential neighbourhood.

Then began the upswing. In 2013, the synagogue was renovated, and last year it was opened to the public. Its first wedding, yesterday, drew many members of the budding Jewish community, and the joy was great. Community leader Yitzchak Ibrahimzadeh even decided that it should be shared with the public at large, via Twitter. The happiness turned to consternation, however, as the responses began tweeting in: “Kill the Jews!” “Get out of occupied Palestine!” etc.

Ibrahimzadeh did not lose heart. “Many anti-Semites expressed their hatred on the Periscope broadcast,” he tweeted back. “Together, hand in hand, we will overcome them.” He proudly included pictures of a synagogue, church, mosque and Turkish flag, symbolizing his hope that unity would win the day.

The small Turkish-Jewish community, numbering not more than 17,000, disseminated the news of the anti-Semitic barrage, and it was mentioned in various news media.

Anti-Semitism in Turkey is a common phenomenon. Polls conducted in 2007–2009 showed that 64% of Turks would not want to see Jews as their neighbors, and 76% have a negative attitude towards Jews. A recent article by the New York-based Gatestone Institute entitled “Turkey’s Runaway Anti-Semitism” states that while there is “always an unusual optimism in the official language chosen by Israeli officials or Jewish community leaders [regarding anti-Semitism in Turkey], facts on the ground are a little bit different than the rosy picture.”

Follow this link to the original article here.

Venue swap doesn’t stop Naz Shah from speaking and apologising

The UK Labour Party’s Naz Shah, currently suspended from the party amid allegations of anti-Semitism, managed to meet and speak with local Jewish community members from Leeds and Bradford, despite an enforced change of venue. The event on Sunday evening – initiated by the Leeds Jewish Representative Council – was moved from the Orthodox Beit Hamidrash Hagadol to the Reform Sinai Synagogue following complaints about the gathering.

Naz Shah (centre)
Naz Shah (centre)

Shah admitted she was “ignorant about Judaism” when she made the anti-Semitic comments leading to her suspension. “It is my job in the Muslim Community to highlight the issues of anti-Semitism.”

“Going to Auschwitz is a fantastic idea but it won’t fix the problem. We need to educate the community.”

“It’s up to me to own the narrative,” she continued. “To have conversations with the Muslim community [about anti-Semitism] and that’s my responsibility.”

Shah explained that she came to this realisation after she was asked to apologize to the House of Commons and to the British Jewish community, something she described as a, “Politicians apology.”

“I looked at myself and asked whether I had prejudice against Jewish people. But I realised I was ignorant and I want to learn about the Jewish faith and culture. I do not have hatred for Jewish people.”

Despite her actions which led to her suspension, Shah insisted that she believes in Israel’s rights to exist and to self-defense, and that – contrary to former Bradford politician and rival George Galloway – she does not believe in Bradford being an ‘Israel-free zone.’

70% of Stanford students oppose BDS, So why do some seek re-vote?

A poll conducted by the Stanford Review to freshmen, sophomores and juniors confirms that a significant majority of students oppose boycotts, divestment and sanctions targeted at Israel.

288 students voted in the online poll, which was released in the aftermath of allegations that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is yet again planning to hold a vote on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) from Israel after failing last year. SJP still has yet to respond to a request for comment on the matter.

stanford

Given the Senate has already voted on divestment, only to see their resolution vetoed by the administration, sources speculated to the Review that SJP and Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine (SOOP) were planning a campus-wide referendum. If this remains their plan, the Review’s poll suggests they have a substantial slope to climb.

69% of students (199) declared themselves in opposition to BDS, with support fairly uniform across the three classes. 65% of freshmen, 72% of sophomores and 73% of juniors were opposed to boycotts and sanctions on Israel, suggesting that those jaded by past divestment debates were less likely to support the measure than those who have not witnessed campus discussion on the issue previously.

The results will likely place pressure on SJP and SOOP to justify their rationale for bringing divestment back to campus, given the divisiveness it caused in 2015, the accusations of anti-Semitism levied against past ASSU (Associated Students of Stanford University) Senators, the increasing skepticism towards anti-Israel university movements across the Atlantic, and the fact the administration has already rejected divestment once. If anything, these data suggest that students have become more opposed to divestment after a year than they were when SOOP saw its success in the ASSU Senate.

In April 2016, Stanford senate member Gabriel Knight infamously argued it is “not anti-Semitism” to claim Jews control “the media, economy, government and other social institutions,” as well as questioning the reliability of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

After a media outcry and backlash from the ADL itself, Knight stepped down from his post.

Matthew Wigler, a Stanford sophomore who co-sponsored the anti-Semitism bill in the ASSU and organized last month’s rally after Gabriel Knight’s controversial comments, commented that the poll “demonstrates that Stanford students have an understanding of just how problematic and dangerous BDS really is.” He added that it was “reassuring” that BDS supporters constitute “a small minority of very loud students.”

 

 

 

 

Latest United Nations farce supported by UK, France and Germany

The United Nations has demonstrated yet again just how unfit it is to hold that name title. Also worrying is how it has been supported in its last farce by the UK, France, Germany.

2016-05-26-16-01-14-267196083These nations, together with other EU states have voted for a UN resolution, co-sponsored by the Arab group of states and the Palestinian delegation, that uniquely singled out Israel at the annual assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) as the only violator of “mental, physical and environmental health.”

They further commissioned a WHO delegation to investigate and report on “the health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory” and in “the occupied Syrian Golan,” and to place it on the agenda again at next year’s meeting.

By contrast, the UN assembly did not address Syrian hospitals being bombed by Syrian and Russian warplanes, or millions of Yemenis denied access to food and water by the Saudi-led bombings and blockade, nor did it pass a resolution on China, North Korea, Libya or any other world nation.

Out of twenty-four items on the meeting’s agenda, only one, Item number nineteen against Israel, focused on a specific country.

“The UN reached new heights of absurdity today,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, “by enacting a resolution which accuses Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan, even as in reality Israeli hospitals continue their life-saving treatment for Syrians fleeing to the Golan from the Assad regime’s barbaric attacks.”

“Shame on Britain, France and Germany for encouraging this hijacking of the annual world health assembly, Neuer added.

In contrast to the shocking collaboration of the UK, France and Germany, there is much to commend the principled stand taken by the U.S., Canada, Australia, Paraguay, Guatemala, Micronesia and Papua New Guinea in joining Israel to oppose perpetuating a politicized agenda item.

The U.S. and Canada both took the floor today to strongly object to the anti-Israel exercise.

The vote was 107 to 8 for the resolution, with 8 abstentions and 58 absent.  The resolution calls for reports on a series of alleged Israeli violations, including on “the impact of prolonged occupation and human rights violations on mental,
physical and environmental health” in “the occupied Palestinian territory.”

By backing the measure, EU states effectively adopted an inflammatory report which, amongst other things, blamed the increase in Palestinian traffic accidents on the fear of “being pursued by settlers”; as well as a Syrian submission laced with anti-Semitic conspiracy tropes, yet circulated as an official UN document on the conference agenda, which alleges that “the Israeli occupation authorities” continue “to experiment on Syrian and Arab prisoners with medicines and drugs and to inject them with pathogenic viruses.”

Unable to deny Israel’s medical treatment of thousands of wounded Syrians, the regime accuses Israel of a plot: healing “armed terrorists from Jabhah al-Nusrah” so that they can “resume their subversive terrorist activities directed against the country’s peaceful citizens and its infrastructure.”

The EU states could have introduced their own resolution about how Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of its own people, destroying the health rights of the Syrian people.

Last month, France and Spain voted for an Arab-sponsored UNESCO resolution that contained the wild conspiracy accusation that Israel was “planting fake Jewish graves” in Jerusalem.

With today’s vote, which robs the world health assembly of limited time and resources in order to portray Israel as the world’s only violator of health rights, the entire EU now descends into irrationalism.

By scapegoating the Jewish state for all the world’s health problems, just as medieval Europe once accused the Jews of poisoning the wells, the EU aids and abets the UN and its World Health Organization to betray the cause of humanity and the very principles upon which they were founded.

This article is adapted from one published by UN Watch. Follow the link to it here.

Amsterdam to pay its Jewish community millions for Holocaust survivor taxes

The city of Amsterdam will give its Jewish community $11 million as compensation for taxes imposed on Holocaust survivors who returned home to the Dutch capital following World War II.

images-7

Upon their return, according to an article in The Telegraph on Monday, the survivors were made to pay a tax because their homes were left empty during the Holocaust. They also had to pay back taxes for the years they had been taken away from the city, as well as insurance fees.

The taxes were discovered by a student in 2013, and that year, Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said the city should “put it right,” according to The Telegraph. On Friday, the city said it would pay the $11 million — an estimate of the total taxes paid by survivors following the war.

“Amsterdam has 5 million to 10 million euros in its coffers that it doesn’t want, and we have no right to it, so we want to give it back to the Jewish community to be used for important projects,” a spokesman for the mayor said, according to the Telegraph. “Finding the individual people or their relatives would be very costly and complex, and that is not the idea.”

The city has suggested the money be put toward a Holocaust memorial monument or community programs.

‘Kill the Jew!’ 12-year-old boy brutally beaten at school in shocking hate-filled attack

New Haven, Connecticut schoolboy and his family are accusing his classmates of targeting him for physical and verbal attacks because he is Jewish, the New Haven Register reports.

Orit Avizov told a local news station that her 12-year-old was “physically attacked and verbally threatened” by one student who was yelling “kill the Jew” during the attack.

Another student “slammed his head in the locker, he got him knocked down to the ground, he started kicking him and punching him in his stomach and his ribs,” Avizov told the TV station. “This child started yelling, ‘kill the Jew, kill the Jew, kill the Jew’ while he’s attacking my son,” she said.

images-6Hamlet Hernandez, Superintendent of Schools, released a statement that does not specifically address Avizov’s claims but states the district will not tolerate bullying of any kind.

“Branford Public Schools is committed to ensuring each school maintains a safe environment for all students” Hernandez said in the statement. “The district strongly condemns inappropriate behavior toward any student, including bullying, violence and racial attacks. All claims of misconduct or prohibited behavior are investigated and addressed in a timely, thorough and judicious manner by the administration.”

Avizov told that along with several other parents they spoke about the bullying allegedly going on at Walsh Intermediate School at last week’s Board of Education meeting. She squarely blames the school’s administration for not properly addressing what they say is a pattern of bullying at the middle school.

Special Report: Rise of far right in Europe being overlooked

Western mainstream media had been fully geared up to cover the expected victory of the far right presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, in the recent Austrian election. The win of the Green party candidate, Alexander Van der Bellen, robbed them of the opportunity to cover what they had been predicting as the first European post-Second World War far right head of state election victory.

Norbert Hofer
Norbert Hofer

Yet, the rise of far right European parties and candidates into the established international realpolitik, rather than their traditional fringe position, is something that has been and is being fundamentally overlooked.

In France, the far-right National Front won 6.8 million votes in regional elections in 2015 – its largest ever popular endorsement.

The far-right Jobbik party who polled third in Hungaryorganises patrols by an unarmed but uniformed “Hungarian Guard” in Roma (Gypsy) neighbourhoods.

In Denmark, the government relies on the support of the nationalist Danish People’s Party and has the toughest immigration rules in Europe.

While, the leader of the nationalist Finns Party is the foreign minister of Finland, after it joined a coalition government last year.

Andrzej Duda
Andrzej Duda

Less than a year after Poland elected Andrzej Duda, a previously little-known right-wing politician as president, Warsaw’s nationalist government moved to strip a leading Jewish Holocaust scholar of a national honour for asserting simply what the previous Polish presidential incumbent, Bronislaw Komorowski, acknowledged. Namely, that Poland was in part responsible for Nazi war crimes against its Jewish population during World War II.

Perhaps one of most shocking situations currently exists in Croatia. During World War II, Croatia was ruled by the Ustashi, an axis-aligned regime that was every bit as bad as the Nazis. The Ustashi killed over 600,000 people, 500,000 of which were Serbs. The Ustashi-ruled Independent State of Croatia had a population of around 6.3 million, meaning the Ustashi killed around one in 10 of its own people. Eighty percent of the nation’s Jews were murdered.

Ustashi
Ustashi – axis-aligned regime during World War II, every bit as bad as the Nazis.

Now the Ustashi are making a comeback. It has now penetrated cabinet ministers and the mainstream media. Ognjen Kraus, the leader of Croatia’s Jewish communities, said that the government “is simply not doing anything” and that it “does not want to.”

The nation’s new right-wing coalition that came to power at the start of the year is responsible for much of this change. As part of that coalition, Zlatko Hasanbegović became Croatia’s culture minister in January. He was once a member of a small far-right, pro-Ustashi party.

Ustashi supporters in modern Croatia
Ustashi supporters in modern Croatia

Since taking office, Hasanbegović has cut funds for progressive groups and independent media and has endorsed a revisionist documentary film that denies the scale of the crimes committed by Croatia during its alliance with Nazi Germany in the 1940s.

Reporters Without Borders, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Serb and Jewish groups in the region have all condemned the new government.

The government’s tolerance of such a man as a minister in government is creating a climate of fear throughout the country.

Croatian soccer fans frequently chant Nazi-era slogans during games with only indirect criticism from the government. During one game with Israel, fans were heard to shout, “We Croats! Ustashi! Ustashi!”

Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s office in Israel and Eastern Europe, warned that Croatia is “a country where manifestations of fascism and anti-Semitism are very common, especially in the local soccer stadiums, but not easily identifiable by those ignorant of the country’s World War II and Holocaust history.”

In the UK much of the media coverage of anti-Semitic issues has focused attention to the political left following the storm that has engulfed the Labour Party. Equally, many in the western media, following mass immigration stories and terrorist outrages, have, unsurprisingly, concentrated on radical Islamist matters and any associated anti-Semitism. Yet, if world history, our history, tells us one thing, we cannot afford to ignore or overlook the rise of the far right. If the mainstream media will not do it we shall have to do it for ourselves.