What are the images of Judaism and Jews that you’ve been exposed to during your lifetime, and are you aware of where they come from? What are the most common myths about the Jews, and where do they originate? How to draw the line between antisemitic hate speech and legitimate criticism of Israel?
These are just a few of the issues tackled during the Training for Online Monitors against Antisemitic Hate Speech organised on the 1st and the 2nd of September in Brussels by CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe as part of the Media Diversity Institute project “Get the Trolls Out”.
The goal of the training was to gather a group of young online monitors coming from Belgium, Britain, France, Greece and Hungary who will be monitoring the European media looking for the most significant incidents of antisemitic speech. The media monitoring results will be the ground of Get the trolls out! action and response to antisemitic speech shaped through videos, cartoons, articles, radio programmes, and complaints to media outlets and responsible institutions.
In a mix of learning-and-discussing environment, under the guidance of the CEJI’s training coordinator Stéphanie Lecesne, the online monitors were encouraged to examine the modern forms of antisemitism.
Experts such as Joel Kotek of the Free University Brussels, François Deleu of the Centre interféderal pour l'égalité des chances and Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust offered their expertise and knowledge to the group.
Though coming from different countries and backgrounds, the selected online monitors share the same enthusiasm and determination in countering antisemitism.
“I work daily with young people and children who are confronted with antisemitism in the street, at school and on Twitter,” said Oren, the online monitor from France. “Being involved in this project means doing something good for them.”
“My main interest is in the juggle between freedom of expression and hate speech,” said Sevi, monitor from Greece. “I just finished a research project on discourses of intolerance on Twitter, and thought this opportunity was perfect for me.”
Antisemitism thrives online. According to François Deleu of the Interfederal Centre for Equal opportunities, in Belgium 50 percent of antisemitic incidents online happens in social media, 20 percent in chain mails, 20 per cent in newspapers, and the remaining in blogs and website.
Myths and hatred can spread quickly. From remote websites to the comment sections of online newspapers, intolerant ideas easily reach real life turning into physical attacks and incidents. Although forms of hate speech and those ideas can seem harmless to some people, they are indeed antisemitism and need to be wiped out of the online environment.
A piece of advice from the training? Act safely and keep it kosher!