So what do we think about the latest anti-Semitic fightback tactic?
AntiSemitismWatch has previously reported on the rapid rise of the use of social media by anti-Semites to ‘troll’ or otherwise harass Jewish journalists, groups, politicians and others with Jewish-sounding names. The European Union just recently launched an initiative with the major social media companies to combat the problem.
Indeed, until it was removed last week, a user-generated Google Chrome extension allowed those who installed it to identify Jews and coordinate online attacks against them.
Last week, Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for the US newspaper, The Atlantic, decided to fight back. He changed his Twitter username to (((Goldberg))), co-opting a symbol that neo-Nazis use to brand Jews on blogs, message boards, and social media. The “echoes,” as they are called, allude to the alleged sins committed by Jews that reverberate through history, according to Mic, a news site geared toward millennials that first explained the origins of the symbol.
Then, Yair Rosenberg of Tablet Magazine, another popular troll target, encouraged his followers to put parentheses around their names as a way to “raise awareness about anti-Semitism, show solidarity with harassed Jews and mess with the Twitter Nazis.” Several journalists and other Jewish professionals followed suit.
Jonathan Weisman, a New York Times editor who changed his username to (((Jon Weisman))) over the weekend, wrote on Twitter that the campaign was a way to show “strength and fearlessness” in the face of bigotry. Weisman was the victim of a barrage of anti-Semitic abuse last month after he tweeted the link to an article in the Washington Post that was critical of Donald Trump. Weisman retweeted much of the filth — including memes of hook-nosed Jews and depictions of Trump in Nazi regalia — that came his way. “Better to have it in the open,” he wrote. “People need to choose sides.”
In Israel, where Twitter is less popular than other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, a small number of journalists, including Haaretz’s Barak Ravid, joined the cause.
Many non-Jews also added the parentheses to their usernames out of solidarity. Among them was NAACP President Cornell Brooks, who tweeted on Saturday: “Founded by Jews & Blacks, the haters might as well hate mark our name [too]: (((@NAACP))).”
Yet the move has struck some Jews as unseemly, the virtual equivalent of willingly pinning a yellow “Jude” star to one’s shirt. On Sunday, the journalist Julia Ioffe tweeted that she was “really uncomfortable with people putting their own names in anti-Semitic parentheses.”
Mordechai Lightstone, a rabbi in Brooklyn who works in the Jewish social media world, said it was dangerous “if we only subvert these hateful acts and use that as the sole basis to define our identities.” A better solution, he said, would be to “channel this into positive actions expressing Jewish pride.”
AntiSemitismWatch believes any tactic people feel empowers them in fighting anti-Semitism has merit. As such, we support those who have determined it is appropriate for them. Indeed, there is something to be said for stealing the tools of anti-Semites, if nothing else other than to annoy and frustrate them! However, the fight does require more. It requires exposure of these people and groups, holding authorities and governments to account, recognition of the global nature of the problem and people dedicated to ensuring the lessons of history are not forgotten or ignored.
But do let us know what you think by using our comment section below or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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