Anti-Semitism 2.0 a.k.a. The Facebook Dilemma

Social networking does come with drawbacks.

A lead story in today’s Jewish Week begins…

“Old-guard groups seen slow in recognizing viral threat from Facebook, YouTube.

More than 35,000 people have joined the Facebook group “Israel is not a country! … Delist it from Facebook as a country!”

Two weeks ago in the JPost we have the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, urging young people to fight anti-Semitism using Facebook.

And from today’s JPost, “Israel loses Monopoly on capital as Hasboro makes Jerusalem stateless.

The battle for Jerusalem took a new direction this week, when a reference to Israel was removed from an on-line poll to select the cities to be featured in the international version of the popular Monopoly board game.”

The common thread, besides anti-Semitism (according to the Jewish Week article), “Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia and Google Earth thrive on communities in which users generate and share information in the form of videos, photos and blog posts, which are subject to vague terms of service and seemingly arbitrary censorship.

“This phenomena is spreading anti-Semitism and acceptability of anti-Semitism in new and increasingly effective ways,” says Andre Oboler, a Legacy Heritage Fellow who runs and is a post-doctoral fellow studying online public diplomacy at Bar-Ilan University.

“Now in the Web 2.0 world, the social acceptability of anti-Semitism can be spread, public resistance lowered and hate networks rapidly established,” Oboler said.

What’s worse, Oboler contends, Jewish organizations are behind the times and are not devoting the resources necessary to stop the hate virus from spreading.

Many at the helm of these large organizations have yet to sign up for a Facebook account, don’t spend much time on YouTube and aren’t all that sure what Google Earth is.

“Community leaders tend to be the sort of people who are too busy to spend time looking at YouTube videos,”
Oboler says. “They are very, very focused on old media, which is a bit strange, since a lot of people their age are online.”


We’ve been saying for a while, social media, and particularly video (in 2008), are here to stay. There is also no question that like all marketing efforts,

Social networking does come with drawbacks; but, we need to learn to utilize these tools for our community’s benefit. To be able to properly asses what is happening, we all need to tune in and pay attention.

I doubt there are many senior communal professionals who do not read some combination of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post on a daily basis. They (we all) need to add Facebook and YouTube.

If social media is technically challenging, or you are afraid of your kids finding you on Facebook, find an intern to regularly monitor these sites for you.

It’s that important.

While you’re at it, read the complete Jewish Week and JPost articles.