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Friday, 01 July 2016 11:47

Manipulation through Human Rights

By misrepresenting the claims of real human rights defenders, antisemites aim to create the false impression that Jews violate the basic liberties of non-Jews.

Our Linguistic Self-Defence Guide Against Antisemitism teaches people how to spot and resist manipulation when they come across antisemitic speech. We use real-life examples, detected by Get the Trolls Out monitors, and reveal the subtle rhetorical tricks that are typically employed to brainwash the public into hating and discriminating against Jewish people.

manipulation through human rights large

By Anna Szilagyi

In antisemitic speech, human rights values are represented in a manipulative fashion. Speakers who spread anti-Jewish hatred, routinely misuse the arguments of those institutions and individuals who respect and protect human rights. By misrepresenting the claims of real human rights defenders, antisemites aim to create the false impression that Jews violate the basic liberties of non-Jews. This form of victim-abuser reversal is employed by speakers to “justify” antisemitism. 

After World War Two, the genocide of Jews and other victims - including Roma people, homosexuals, disabled people and political prisoners - by the Nazis and their collaborators put human rights at the heart of global policy making. In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, the principles advocated by the UN and other organisations have been twisted by antisemites to reinforce old forms of manipulation.  

As the incidents detected by monitors of Get the Trolls Out show, in today’s antisemitic speech Jews are frequently constructed as human rights abusers. For instance, speakers typically accuse Jews of depriving non-Jews of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This form of manipulation builds upon the old antisemitic cliché that Jews own and control media outlets to brainwash populations.  

The old stereotype of Jewish media dominance was evoked in a recent Facebook post by a French speaker: “In a democracy, information is meant to be free and pluralistic. In reality, the most important media outlets are entirely in the hands of Jews, and this in practically all domains.” Assigning the role of the human rights abuser to Jewish people, this Facebook message suggested that Jews undermine democracy and the freedom of the press in France.  

Indicating the pervasiveness of antisemitic stereotypes, the cliché of Jewish media dominance recurs in new guises as well. Since the emergence of the World Wide Web, antisemites argue that Jews control not only the mainstream media but also the key services on the internet. In November 2015, a French blog on “white Europe” claimed, for example, that Wikipedia is “edited by Jews for promoting their tribal interest.” The same blog also talked about the “Jews of Google” who “censor” information. 

Antisemites also demand freedom of speech, presenting themselves this way as victims who are deprived of a fundamental right. Although on such occasions, the speakers simply refer to “freedom of speech", they are actually arguing for the “freedom of hate speech”. This particular form of victim-abuser reversal is often reinforced by the complaint that speakers are stigmatised as racist and antisemitic if they practice “the freedom” of derogatory, offensive speech, or deny or downplay the Holocaust. 

For example, the above-mentioned Facebook post on France continued with this false accusation: “In the Jewish world vision, the goy (goyim plural) is the non-Jew. He is considered a beast. According to the Talmud itself, by far the most influential sacred text in Judaism, he is considered less than a dog. His only vocation is thus to serve his Jewish master without ever having to complain. Otherwise, he passes as “racist”, “Antisemite” and the Jews will do everything to make him suffer the consequences.” 

In antisemitic speech the right to freedom of opinion and expression is misused to advocate verbal abuse and discrimination. Therefore, when it comes to antisemitic discourses, one should not take demands for freedom of opinion and expression at face value.

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