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December 28, 2022 8:42 am

‘Our Apologies’: Google Removes Antisemitic Trope As Definition for ‘Jew’ After Outcry


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Google headquarters. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Google, the most used search engine in the world, has changed the results for a search of the term “Jew” following widespread criticism over its listing an antisemitic trope as the first among several definitions.

“A bargain with someone in a miserly or petty way,” said the first result, listed under ‘jew’ [sic], explaining that “Jew,” a noun describing a member of the Jewish people, was transfigured into a derogatory slur in the 19th century to evoke “old stereotypes associating Jewish people with trading and moneylending.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, only one definition appears, with a “Jew” described as “a member of the people and cultural community whose traditional religion is Judaism and who trace their origins through the ancient Hebrew people of Israel to Abraham.”

“Our apologies,” Google later tweeted. “Google licenses definitions from third-party dictionary experts. We only display offensive definitions by default if they are the main meaning of a term. As this is not the case here, we have blocked & passed along feedback to the partner for further review.”

The antisemitic listing, first reported by StopAntisemitism, a US-based watchdog group, prompted sweeping condemnation online, with many in the Jewish community wondering why the search engine would prioritize a slur against the Jewish people over classic, non-antisemitic terms describing who they are.

“When one enters ‘jew’ into the Google search engine, a grotesque antisemitic trope comes up,” Stop Antisemitism tweeted. “This is unacceptable.”

After the search results were emended, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said, “We appreciate that Google removed an offensive definition of the word ‘Jew’ as its first dictionary entry after ADL and others reported it. There is no excuse for the first result of the word ‘Jew’ on Google to turn up an obviously antisemitic result.”

In 2017, Google updated its search engine results for the term “Holocaust historians” after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) noted that it prompted images and profiles of Holocaust deniers, including David Irving, an infamous Nazi historian, and David Hoggan, who wrote a book titled The Myth of the Six Million. Both men were discussed in Deborah Lipstadt’s 1993 book, Denying the Holocaust.

The Algemeiner has asked Google to comment on this story. It will be updated accordingly.

Follow reporter Dion J. Pierre at @DionJPierre.

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