"Antisemitism 2.0"—The Spreading of Jew-hatred on the World Wide Web [chapter]

Monika Schwarz-Friesel, Lawrence H. Schiffman, Dina Porat, Kerstin Mayerhofer, Armin Lange
2019 Comprehending and Confronting Antisemitism  
This article focuses on the rising problem of internet antisemitism and online hatred against Israel. Antisemitism 2.0i sf ound on all webp latforms, not justi n right-wing social media but alsoo nt he online commentary sections of quality media and on everydayw eb pages. The internet shows Jew-hatred in all its various contemporary forms, from overt death threats to more subtle manifestations articulated as indirect speech acts. The spreading of antisemitic texts and pictures on all
more » ... s on all accessiblea sw ell as seemingly non-radical platforms, their rapid and multiple distribution on the World Wide Web, adiscourse domain less controlled than other media, is by now acommon phenomenon within the spaceof public online communication. As ar esult,the increasingimportance of Web2.0 communication makes antisemitism generallym ore acceptable in mainstream discourse and leadst oanormalization of anti-Jewishu tterances. Empirical results from al ongitudinalc orpus studya re presented and discussed in this article. They show how centuries old anti-Jewish stereotypes are persistentlyr eproduceda cross different social strata. The data confirm that hate speech against Jews on online platforms follows the pattern of classical antisemitism. Although manyofthem are camouflaged as "criticism of Israel," they are rooted in the ancient and medieval stereotypes and mental models of Jew hostility.Thus, the "Israelization of antisemitism,"¹ the most dominant manifestation of Judeophobia today, proves to be merelyanew garb for the age-old Jew hatred. However,the easy accessibility and the omnipresenceofantisemitism on the web 2.0e nhancesa nd intensifies the spreadingofJ ew-hatred, and its propagation on social media leads to anormalization of antisemitic communication, thinking,a nd feeling. After more than sixty yearsofe ducation relating to the Holocaust,i nnumerable media discussions and conferences,political declarations, and thousandsofscientific books, films, and articles that aim to clarify the roots,the major conceptualizations, the irrational character,a nd the perils of antisemitism,n ot onlyi s the phenomenon in the twenty-first century alive and virulent,i ti sa lsov ery much on the rise. The Web2.0 plays as ignificant role in spreadingand accelerating antisemitic texts, pictures,and films: Jewhatred has exploded in the internet,asdata from along term studyreveals.² In the lastt en years, the volume of antisemitic comments in online commentary sections has tripled, in some realms even quintupled. In at en-year comparative study ( 2007 to 2017), corpus studies examining the comments sections of the qualityonline media in Germanyreveal asignificant increase from 7. 5percent to 30 percent in verbal antisemitism. At the same time, we observe at endency towards as emantic and argumentative radicalization: The prevalence of comparisons with the Nazi regime,f antasies of violence, as well as an extreme, demonizing and dehumanizing pejorative language( plague, cancer,f ilth)h aved oubled since 2009.T his demonstrates the loweringoft he taboo threshold regardingt he articulation of even such explicit and extreme expressions of antisemitism. At the sametime, the tendency to relativize, to defend, and to denycontemporary antisemitism can be witnessed in our society,this trend is coupled with heightened indifference and an obvious lack of empathy. Our empirical data show that more than 33 percent (mean value) of antisemitic comments on the web are connected explicitlyorimplicitly to the Jewish state. Israel, as "the collective Jew," has by now become the major projection ground for antisemitic thoughts and feelings.Thus, contemporary Jew-hatredf ocuses on this most important symbol of Judaism, Jewish life, and existence. This "Israelization of antisemitism" is found in the right,t he left,a nd in the middle of society.³ Itsm ain feature is the projection of age-oldJ udeophobic stereotypes onto the Jewish state. In innumerable texts, Israel is described as a "greedy, revengeful, land robbing" and an "illegal state that usesb rutal force, murders children, kills inno-
doi:10.1515/9783110618594-026 fatcat:ua5b7eg7cbf37mpsjdio4v5hpu