Posts Tagged ‘Anti-Defamation League’

Protesters: Facebook OK With Anti-Semitic Postings

October 17, 2013

This article was first published in JWeekly.

Israeli Phillip Pasmanick takes part in a protest at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park on Oct. 14. photo/joyce goldschmid

Israeli Phillip Pasmanick takes part in a protest at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park on Oct. 14. photo/joyce goldschmid

A small group of activists accusing Facebook of turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism online staged a protest outside the social media giant’s Menlo Park headquarters on Oct. 14.

The protest was organized by Michael Mendelson, a 45-year-old electronics salesman from Miami who has been working for two years to get Facebook to remove pages and groups he believes are anti-Semitic or hateful against Jews and Israel.

In an email, Mendelson said he received support from the Zionist Organization of America and Stand With Us, and that “over 400 attendees” had signed up online and would be at the protest. The actual number was about 15.

Mendelson claims he collected 112,000 signatures on a petition he presented to Facebook, and his “Help Report Hate & Anti-Semitic Pages” Facebook page has been liked more than 12,000 times.

“It all started when I saw a Facebook page called “F-ck Israel,” he said. “Since then, I’ve been reporting hateful page after hateful page, but even if one gets taken down, it pops right back up in no time at all.”

The son of parents he termed Holocaust “refugees,” Mendelson accuses Facebook of practicing a double standard: carefully removing content that is hateful toward gays, blacks, and other ethnic and minority groups, but blatantly allowing material that is virulently anti-Jewish to stay visible in newsfeeds.

Those who showed up to the protest waved blue and white signs with messages such as “Facebook=Hatebook,” “Social Media Holocaust” and “Demand Facebook take anti-Semitism seriously.”

Phillip Pasmanick said he traveled from his home in northern Israel to support Mendelson’s efforts. Retired from the Israel Defense Forces after 30 years, he now runs an Israel advocacy website. “I, too, have worked for a long time to fight anti-Semitic pages and have alerted others about them so they can help me get the links taken down,” he said.

Pasmanick, who wore a large Israeli flag as a cape, blamed Facebook’s algorithms for allowing hateful material to stay online.

Matt Steinfeld, manager of policy communications for Facebook, refuted Pasmanick’s claim. “An individual reviews each reported page and measures it against the standards on Facebook’s community standards page,” he said. With 1.2 billion users and 3.5 billion posts per day, Facebook maintains that the only “scalable way” to handle complaints is through its online reporting protocols, and by engaging with community organizations to address various concerns.

One of those community organizations is the Anti-Defamation League, which said in an official statement that it is “routinely in contact with the leadership at Facebook to raise concern about anti-Semitic and other problematic content published to their pages.”

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


Seeking Accommodation

September 26, 2011

This piece first appeared as “California Unemployment Office Accused of Religious Discrimination” on The Shmooze blog of the Forward.

Jeff Weinberger would like to see the California State Employment Development department do some teshuvah this High Holiday season.

The San Francisco resident, who was laid off from his executive-level hi-tech marketing job last month, received a notice to attend a “re-employment eligibility assessment appointment” on September 29, the first day of Rosh Hashanah. When he notified the EDD that he would need to reschedule for religious reasons, he was told that he was at risk of losing his unemployment benefits if he did not show up on the 29th.

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© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Solely Coincidence?

August 8, 2010

Vans shoes

Man (or, I guess in this case, Dude), the stuff your kid learns at Jewish summer camp…

Perhaps for some of you, this will just be a rehashing of an old Internet rumor, but for me, the following tidbit brought home by Son #2  was news from the anti-Semitic urban legend department. Apparently, the soles of Vans (for those not into California skater culture, these are athletic shoes) have a Star of David pattern on them. People who noticed the this and were in the know about Jewish symbols, surmised that the Van Doren Rubber Company was sneaking an anti-Semitic message into its products (say, in the same way that In ‘N Out Burgers – also a California company – slips Christian messages surreptitiously onto its product wrappings). Wear Vans and you’re stomping on the Jews, was how some interpreted it.

In stepped the ADL to quell fears, issuing in 2006 a statement that they had investigated the rumor and found it to be baseless. They quickly dispensed with this bit of business, freeing them up to focus on bigger things. Like what? Opposing the building of a mosque near ground zero in Lower Manhattan, for example.

Case closed, or so it seemed. But what about the fact that when you press on a standard Hebrew keyboard the keys that are in the exact same positions as V-A-N-S on a QWERTY keyboard, you get the Hebrew letters hey-shin-mem-dalet. This spells the word “hashmed,” which is the imperative form of “destroy,” or “exterminate.”

Probably just sheer coincidence. But still, pretty weird. It’s a good thing I’m more of a Converse kind of gal, anyway.

© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.