The cowardly anti-semites plaguing social media show just how hard it is to be proud of our identity

Ed Tyler - FZY Mazkir 2015-16 - takes on the antisemitic abuse that plagues Twitter.

Over the last week I have witnessed antisemitic abuse, the likes of which I have not seen before. Izzy Lenga, one of our most keenly involved FZY members for many years, and now the Education Officer of the University of Birmingham, simply tried to highlight that antisemitism is still an issue today. If her original tweet – of a poster plastered on the university campus stating “Hitler was right” – didn’t show the extent of the problem, then the response she received certainly did that. ​

The examples Izzy highlighted in the above image are hardly even the breaking the surface of some of the vile responses she received. Some came out in support of Hitler, saying he was right, and those who came to the defence of Izzy were told to #GetInTheOven. Others accused the whole thing of being part of that infamous worldwide Jewish conspiracy which is so obviously a thing, accusing Izzy of putting up the Hitler poster herself.Others were even worse; Holocaust deniers, hiding behind fake Twitter names to protect their identities. The stupidity and cowardice of these people is astonishing and while I have known antisemitism is an issue in itself, particularly when conflated with Israel, Holocaust denial really is not something I thought we would see in 2015. The tweet which caught my eye most prominently was hugely upsetting to me, and I am sure would be to anyone who has ever had any connection to the Holocaust, whether that is as a survivor, a relation of one, or simply someone who has visited concentration camps or museums which demonstrate the horrors performed by the Nazis. In fact it would be offensive to anyone with even an ounce of humanity.

Lie upon lie upon lie, posted as truths ready to explode out of a box and reveal to the world the “truth” about the “Holocaust myth”.This may have been trolling, in fact every piece of abuse may have been, in the sense that there is a chance none of these trolls actually believed what they were posting. This is an optimistic view, and still strikes fear in me to know that someone out there made cartoons, memes or simply said some of the disgusting things we see in examples such as the cartoon above. Someone had these thoughts, people agreed with it, and people shared, retweeted and celebrated the very public abuse of a young Jewish woman who tried to stand up for her religion. She brought to the public’s attention an undoubtedly antisemitic poster and was greeted by those glorying in the poster’s message, rather than by a barrage of support and condemnation.

There were and are those who have condemned the original post, and every bit of abuse since, but this is too few and far between. Astonishingly I can still access every single account that has posted this abuse. Izzy retweeted many of them onto her timeline to show the extent of the issue and despite what I imagine have been numerous reports to Twitter of their content, they and the profiles who posted them still remain on the site. People have been publicly arrested and shamed over trolling before, and while tracking these people down may be extremely difficult, they are still allowed to remain active! It is barbaric.

The saddest aspect of this is rather than erupt into full scale cyber warfare of those with a moral compass tearing into these abusive trolls, the situation escalated into one where the tirade of antisemitism built up against Izzy, and while there was a steady flow of condemnation of the racists and support for Izzy, she was left largely alone by those who should have been supporting her. While MP’s, journalists and friends tweeted messages of support, the campaign of support was left overcome by the campaign of hate. I can’t say I was much better, not picking up on what was going on early enough and not knowing what to do once I did.

This is the crux of the problem. What do we do? How do we tackle this? It is easy to sit behind a computer screen and throw abuse at someone who is relatively helpless, but how easy is it to respond? Izzy did the right thing, bravely retweeting the hate and threats and drawing the community’s attention to what was going on. Her Facebook status on the matter has received over 500 likes and 150 shares; from those close to her, to those who have probably never met her. Awareness is key and finally now people are drawing attention to what has been going on and the story is picking up traction. I would urge everyone who comes across it to keep sharing the story and face up to the fact that antisemitism is still rife. It may be passive and cowardly through racist posters and threatening messages on social media, but it is there. The support for that side cannot override the support for Izzy and the Jewish people as a whole.

Some will say there has been an over-reaction. That these accounts are two or three sad, lonely individuals who have little better to do than create conspiracy theories and abuse someone who without the protection of the rest of the community, can do little else but watch the abuse flood in. It is shocking to see just how many Jews I have come across who deny antisemitism is an issue, and it is something I believe is ingrained in today’s society. Would the reaction to some of the antisemitic hate we see today be afforded to any other form of racism?

For some reason when it comes to antisemitism there is a question mark over it. I would actually say there is a similar issue with Islamaphobia, where associating any Muslim with Islamic extremists becomes common place. Similarly with antisemitism it is a conflation with Israel that seems to justify hate speech in many people’s eyes.

Criticism of the Israeli government is fine, and I found it baffling at the World Zionist Congress to see may shouting “ANTISEMITISM!” any time someone felt the need to criticise Benjamin Netanyahu for his outrageous comments about the Grand Mufti’s role in the Final Solution. It’s not antisemitic or anti-Zionist to criticise what was clearly a false statement from Netanyahu, and everyone