Posts Tagged ‘Anti-Semitism’

Anti-Semitic Incidents Disrupt Silicon Valley Jewish Community

June 10, 2014

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

Congregation Kol Emeth’s Rabbi Laurie Matzkin wants to address an uptick in anti-Semitism encountered by Silicon Valley’s Jewish students. (Courtesy)

Congregation Kol Emeth’s Rabbi Laurie Matzkin wants to address an uptick in anti-Semitism encountered by Silicon Valley’s Jewish students. (Courtesy)

The publication of a slight against a Jewish student in a Cupertino, California high school yearbook has brought to light what some see as an uptick in anti-Semitism among Silicon Valley youth

A student planted an insult against a student from a Jewish Israeli family in a caption beneath a team photo in the Monta Vista High School yearbook. The student’s changing the last three letters of the Israeli classmate’s name to “jew” went unnoticed by the yearbook advisor.

According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, the school has not acquiesced to the Jewish family’s request that the run of 1,600 yearbooks be recalled, claiming that it is too late now that they have been distributed to students and have been filled with handwritten messages from friends and classmates. The Fremont Union High School District paid $64,000 to produce the yearbooks, and they were sold to students at $90 a piece.

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© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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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.

How An Age-Old Stereotype Led To A Horrific Kidnapping

April 20, 2013

This piece was first published on The Arty Semite blog at the Forward.

Ilan Halimi (courtesy of Stephanie Yin)

Ilan Halimi (courtesy of Stephanie Yin)

Was the 2006 kidnapping, 24-day long torture, and murder of 23-year-old French-Jewish cell phone salesman Ilan Halimi by a suburban Paris gang fueled by anti-Semitism? In the new documentary film, “Jews & Money,” there’s no doubt about the answer.

In the film we see lawyers arguing over the validity of anti-Semitic hate crime charges, but filmmaker Lewis Cohen’s starting point is obvious. The story of Halimi’s murder and its aftermath serves as a springboard for the history and development of Western anti-Semitis, and the adoption of its elements by Islamists and others opposed to the State of Israel.

In particular, it is the gang leader’s admission that Halimi was targeted because of the belief that all Jews are rich, which sets the stage for the filmmaker’s investigation of this invidious canard.

Cohen told an audience at the first screening of the film’s final cut on April 17 at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco that it was the topic of Jews and money, and not the Halimi case specifically, that first interested him. He said he hadn’t thought much about the origin of the stereotype until he took an extended trip to Europe about five years ago. He decided he wanted to focus on the subject, and when someone told him about Halimi, he realized the crime was an excellent framing device.

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.