Anti-Semitic posts are the most common form of bigotry on the internet according to the co-founder of an online hate monitoring organisation which is engaged in combating hate and bigotry on the internet.
Ronald Eissens is the co-founder of Dutch based International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH), which is made up of sixteen organisations across the globe and monitors hate speech on the internet.
“It is very difficult to make exact calculations because the internet is much bigger than most of us think,” Eissens says. “A thousand a day would certainly be true, and 5,000 to 10,000 a day worldwide could also be true.”
“Anti-Semitism”, said Eissens, “is the single most common form of bigotry on the internet.” Accounting for about one-third of all complaints registered with his organisation.”
He said that complaints about anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial submitted to his network of organisations tends to rise when Israel is the focus of international media attention. “During the last Gaza War, we saw a big fat spike in online anti-Semitism, and I’m talking about pure anti-Semitism – not anti-Zionism,” he said.
Since its establishment in 2002, said Eissens, INACH succeeded in removing somewhere between 60,000 and 70,000 hateful posts on the internet, about 25,000 of them anti-Semitic in nature.
Eissens also noted the shift of anti-Semitic comments from dedicated neo-Nazi and white supremacist websites and forums. Now, most anti-Semitic posts are scattered and much more mainstream, with more and more on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google.
He also noted the shift from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism. Even though his organisation does not monitor anti-Zionist posts he says the connection is there.
“Nowadays, anti-Zionism has become part and parcel of Jew hatred, and often when people say they are just anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic, that is a cop out,” he said. “I’m not sure all those who identify as anti-Zionists are really anti-Semitic, but I think it’s heading in that direction, and that is dangerous.”
Asked whether he considered supporters of the international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel to be anti-Jewish, Eissens said: “My problem with BDS activists is that almost all of them are of the opinion that Israel should not really exist. They’re talking about a one-state solution. They’re talking about giving Palestine back to the Palestinians, and they’re talking about all of traditional Palestine. When they say things like that, I often find BDS activists to be anti-Semites because what’s supposed to happen to Jews who are living in Israel if that happens?”
“But if they say they’re in favour of a two-state solution, with Jews and Palestinians living side by side, that’s a whole other stance. But I don’t hear that nuance a lot among BDS activists.”