Thursday, December 17, 2020

  • Thursday, December 17, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
The Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) is a neutral and independent third party whose mission it is to track, expose, and combat misinformation, deception, manipulation, and hate across social media channels.
The NCRI just released a report on online antisemitic conspiracy theories that has the best methodology I've yet seen in quantifying trends on social media, including graphics:
In order to reveal the coded language and double meanings of anti-Jewish conspiracy memes across four online platforms, we used a mixture of open source (manual) social media investigation, machine learning/natural language processing, algorithms for facial recognition, optical character recognition, timeline analysis, and a hashtag frequency and ranking analysis. For our dataset, we collected over 237 million comments, from three extremist communities:4chan, Gab, Reddit’s The_Donald, as well as from Twitter, and 10 million meme-images from these communities. Our Twitter sample of memes was collected only from Russian trolls.
The report is very fair in identifying right- and left-wing antisemitism, and it describes when criticism of Israel veers into antisemitic territory. It includes this brilliant description of antisemitism, and how its popular memes can be traced back to Biblical Pharaoh in Egypt:

Antisemitism is the most enduring, intact and widely circulated conspiracy theory of all time. It can also be viewed as a collection of conspiracy theories that are always adaptable to any group’s fears and moral concerns. Beginning with the biblical narrative and continuing throughout history, up to and including today, anti-Jewish conspiracy theories comprise a set of themes including (but not limited to) deception and pretense; global dominance; dual loyalty; greed; betrayal; genocidal bloodlust; supernatural evil; appropriation of land, identity, and privilege; and the replacement of those in power with Jews and other immigrants and minorities. Our opening epigraph lays out an ancient blueprint for antisemitic themes—themes that our computational analysis finds on social media today.

From Exodus 1:8, for example: 

A new king [political leadership] arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph [the Jewish alien who became a powerful and influential government insider]. And he said to his people [spreading antisemitic disinformation], “Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us [fear of a Jewish conspiracy to control Egypt]. Let us [leadership and populace] deal shrewdly with them, so that they [Jewish outsiders living among us] may not increase [fear of replacement]; otherwise in the event of war [us versus them] they [outsiders] may join our enemies [fear of Jews colluding with foreigners] in fighting against us [fear of genocide] and rise from the ground [displeasure at the idea of Jews rising above their marginalized and oppressed status.]
The authors then map these conspiracy theory memes across different antisemitic groups, in the best charts I've ever seen on this topic:

This chart shows the (total) overlap of these conspiracy theories between the Right and the Left as well as with Islamists:

The paper is filled with cogent observations.

 Here is a brief, excellent description of why calling Israel an apartheid state is antisemitism:

An analysis of hashtags associated with “apartheid” on Twitter from November 4th–November18th found Israel/Palestine to be single largest association for the term for Twitter overall during this time period. Apartheid is defined as the systematic deprivation by the state of the rights and protections from its resident citizens based on ethnic features. The status of the West Bank is under dispute and the Palestinians who reside there are not citizens of Israel—the label of apartheid is thus, at best, controversial and contested in this circumstance. At worst, it is plausibly viewed as the rhetoric of demonization and denunciation.

However, while accusations of apartheid are not necessarily evidence of antisemitic discrimination, millions of Roma who are citizens in Western industrialized countries suffer from systemic discrimination in education and housing and suffer in refugee camps across Europe—a condition the Open Society Foundation’s director of Roma affairs terms an “undeclared apartheid.” Similarly, the Muslim Rohingya in Mayanmar suffer recognizable conditions of apartheid and currently investigations into genocide are under way. Yet in connection to apartheid, these groups don’t even merit honorable mention on Twitter. This suggests that the use of apartheid finds a ready, political market—not for those concerned with apartheid, but for feeding what Jeffery Goldberg terms a “pornographic interest”in Jewish moral failure.
Here is the beginning of the paper's conclusion:

Both “Soros” and “Israel” appear to be signals that emerge during transitions of power to delineate ingroups and outgroups. To extremists on the far right, Soros is an exemplar of the evils of globalism, international corruption, and Jewish corporate influence, and represents a moral threat. Invoking the Soros conspiracy theory signals moral virtue to white supremacists and members of other like-minded groups. To extremists on the far left, Israel is an exemplar of oppression, racism, white supremacy, and colonialism, and represents a moral threat. Invoking the Israeli conspiracy theory signals moral virtue to social justice advocates and members of other like-minded groups.

People can have reasonable disagreements with the ways in which George Soros has used his vast wealth to advance politically progressive causes, and can legitimately criticize the ways in which the government of Israel has managed its relationships with and treatment of the Palestinian population. Nonetheless, by capitalizing on these reasonable and legitimate criticisms and disagreements, propagandists paint Jews as players in conspiracy theories that disseminate anti-Jewish disinformation and spread antisemitism online. The best propaganda often is based on distortions of truths thereby giving it a facade of credibility. The Jew, whether represented as a person or nation, is the exemplar of moral pollution and is used to both embody moral threat, and through the choice of Jewish individual or State, signal the ingroup to which a person belongs.
It also includes recommendations that include this very important point about the potential pitfalls of how ethnic studies curricula can unwittingly be used to promote antisemitic conspiracy theories:

Our current environment is one in which many school systems are developing ethnic studiescurricula. It is essential that, at a minimum, lessons about Jews do not disseminate antisemitic themes of Jewish privilege and power. Instead, lesson plans must help students recognize antisemitic disinformation and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories around “privilege.” The Jewish intersection is the intersection for which the discussion of privilege itself heralds catastrophic and genocidal historical outcomes. Understanding the long history of these themes in undermining not just the acceptance of Jews as equal members of society, but the acceptance of differences in general, can enrich the conversation about privilege and the virtues and values of a liberal, pluralist democracy.

This is a very important work of scholarship on antisemitism in only 25 pages, including appendices. It is a must-read. 

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