UNITING AGAINST ANTISEMITISM: EMPOWERING TRANSATLANTIC CIVIL SOCIETY RESPONSES TO ONLINE ANTISEMITISM ACROSS EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA
Online antisemitism has skyrocketed since the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on 7 October 2023 and Jewish communities around the world are on high alert, with increasing antisemitic incidents recorded across Europe and North America. This comes in a context of rising violent extremist attacks with strong links to online antisemitic communities targeting Jewish communities including in Pittsburgh, Poway and Halle. Meanwhile, social media has provided unprecedented visibility to antisemitic ideas, with 69% of American Jews experiencing antisemitism online in 2022, according to the American Jewish Committee. In Canada, B’nai B’rith identified that 82% of antisemitic incidents took place online, and 88% of European Jews believe the online threat has increased in recent years.
In response to this rising challenge, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and B’nai B’rith International, in partnership with UNESCO, published a civil society toolkit in 2022 to amplify and consolidate the voice of Jewish organizations and allies in the face of this growing manifestation of hate. The toolkit – focused on a European context – synthesizes research around the threat landscape as well as emerging legislative and non-legislative responses, and provides wide-ranging recommendations to aid Jewish institutions and professionals to approach the issue of antisemitism online.
In North America there is also growing momentum around policy responses to support such civil society efforts. The new US National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism identified that – while the responsibility to ensure user safety and a hate-free space online lies with governments and online platforms, through education, research, advocacy and more – civil society plays a crucial role in addressing online antisemitism and countering Holocaust denial and distortion. In Canada, the government continues to engage with civil society around the development of new online safety legislation, which will include provisions to tackle hate speech. Meanwhile, the European Commission’s 2021 strategy on combatting antisemitism and fostering Jewish life has prompted a number of national-level action plans within the EU. Across these geographies, different threat contexts and policy strategies have prompted diverse responses and roles for civil society actors.
ISD, UNESCO, the World Jewish Congress, AJC and B’nai B’rith International are organizing an actionoriented capacity building workshop, bridging North American and European civil society efforts to counter online antisemitism. Alongside Jewish community organizations, this interactive workshop may also be of interest to organizations that work to tackle hate speech, prejudice, intolerance and discrimination, as well as educate and build awareness of the Holocaust.
The workshop will bring together transatlantic online antisemitism experts, leading figures driving policy responses to hateful narratives and fostering media and information literacy, and best practices from civil society countering online antisemitism across Europe for the North America.
• ISD (lead)
• UNESCO (partner)
• World Jewish Congress (partner)
• B’nai B’rith International (partner)
• American Jewish Committee (partner