A coalition of 128 organizations has sent an open letter to Facebook’s board of directors calling on the social media giant to officially adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism as a guiding policy on combating online Jew-hatred. The letter noted that Facebook’s director of content policy stakeholder engagement, Peter Stern, “admitted that Facebook does not have a policy aimed at combating online antisemitism” and that the IHRA definition had not been adopted because it included antisemitism related to Israel.
The letter pointed out that almost 40 countries, including the US, had adopted the IHRA definition in some form, and “the overwhelming majority of civil society organizations at the forefront of efforts to combat antisemitism endorse and encourage the use and adoption of the IHRA definition” and “today’s antisemitism undoubtedly includes the delegitimization of Israel’s right to exist.”
“Jews today, like many other minority communities, are being targeted and attacked in record numbers,” the letter stated. “Jews overwhelmingly report that online antisemitism is the most acute form of Jew-hatred they experience.”
“While the impact of online hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation on our society continues to be researched and explored, we cannot afford to lose any more time in fighting this bigotry and preventing violence,” the letter declared, urging Facebook to “put words into action and power behind commitment” by adopting the IHRA definition. The signatories include Jewish and pro-Israel groups from around the world, including among others Australia’s ACT Zionist Council, Canada’s Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the US’s Zionist Organization of America and StopAntisemitism.org, Italy’s Alleanza Per Israele and Brazil’s Hebraica.
Marc Greendorfer, president of the Zachor Legal Institute, one of the signatories, commented, “Today’s antisemitism is particularly potent online. … Hate speech and hate crimes are highly correlated. Social media platforms must assume responsibility to protect users and combat this inciteful hatred.”
“The volume and velocity at which antisemitism grows online require greater responsibility on behalf of the platforms that enable them to spread,” he added. “There is no free pass to amplifying antisemitism. We’re not just fighting hate speech; we’re fighting for people’s safety.” The IHRA definition says: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”