Institutional Antisemitism: Non-Profit’s Tweet Shows Scope of Jew-Hatred
In a social media climate riddled with antisemitic messages from personalities such as DeSean Jackson and Ice Cube, it’s easy to overlook hate speech from sources that aren’t as high-profile. As is often the case, however, the prejudice that flies under the radar is just as vile as the rest — and perhaps even more dangerous.
Consider the UK-based organization Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK), which recently tweeted a message touting notoriously bigoted academic Norman Finkelstein and his book The Holocaust Industry, a virulently antisemitic work whose claims include allegations that Jews use the Holocaust as a cynical scheme aimed at stifling purportedly legitimate criticism of Israel.
The anti-Zionist Finkelstein, who is Jewish and in the past has referred to relatives of his who were murdered during the Holocaust, has a large following of far-left and far-right bigots who leverage his religion and experiences to “disprove” the fact that Zionism is a viable, non-racist ideology.
The MPACUK’s Twitter message — which also retweeted a video of Finkelstein chastising a Jewish Zionist at a University of Waterloo event — included this text:
@normfinkelstein has been putting zionists in their place for as long as we can ever remember. His book ‘The Holocaust Industry’ shows how the American Jewish establishment exploits the memory of the Nazi Holocaust for political and financial gain & is a must read! https://t.co/EAAlgZWuox
— MPACUK (@MPACUK) July 5, 2020
On its website, the organization — which describes itself as “a grass roots civil liberties pressure group, set up in 2001 to encourage civil engagement within the Muslim community at all levels in the UK” — states that it works “to expose and counter anti Muslim narrative in mainstream politics & media.” It adds that it’s “a not for profit organization, fully dependent on donations from the public and is run largely by volunteers.”
These assertions, however, don’t provide any indication that antisemitism and highly offensive perceptions of the Holocaust are part of its social media strategy — or, for that matter, a major portion of its programming and concomitant communications efforts. It also wasn’t clear if the MPACUK’s tweet breached any of the British laws against hate speech — laws that mandate strict penalties for material deemed “grossly offensive” or “incitement to hatred.”
Even more perturbing is the fact that this tweet was still up at press time. Twitter isn’t in the practice of suspending the accounts of organizations, especially ones with verified accounts. But if it deactivates the accounts of individual bigots — including “alt-right” pundit Stefan Molyneux, who was suspended earlier this month — why can’t it do the same with organizations that violate its rules against hate speech? And why not take down this one tweet in any case?
The MPACUK and Twitter did not respond at press time to separate emails requesting comment. The Community Security Trust, a UK-based watchdog that focuses on mitigating antisemitism, also did not respond at press time to an email requesting comment — specifically on whether the tweet could be deemed grossly offensive or incitement to hatred.
But it should.
Jews are once again in the line of fire, and it’s becoming a conflagration. Dousing the flames of antisemitism, no matter if they’re sparked by celebrities or non-profits, is essential to keeping us alive — and absolutely crucial to the safety of the generations to come.
Simon Hardy Butler is a writer and editor living in New York City. During his career, he has written for publications ranging from Zagat to Adweek. His views and opinions are his own.