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USA: Antisemitism and the role of hate speech on social media

Monday 29 October 2018, by siawi3

Source: Pen America, 29.10.18

The impact of words—said, unsaid, repeated, tweeted, and deleted, on and offline—is in full and tragic evidence after 11 worshipers are murdered in a Pittsburgh synagogue by an anti-Semite with an automatic rifle. President Trump, who has invoked widely recognized anti-Semitic code in attacking ’globalists’ and financier George Soros, eventually condemns the attack but then goes back vitriol against his political critics, the media, and baseball coaching. Gab, the social network where the Pittsburgh gunman had exposed his extremist views to other anti-Semites, invokes ’free speech’ as it shut down because companies refuse to continue hosting the site. Twitter apologizes for not acting against the Florida Trump supporter accused of sending pipe bombs to Democratic officials and donors and CNN when he threatened a Democratic political commentator after a Fox News appearance. Fox Business host Lou Dobbs comes under criticism for engaging with guests in promoting false conspiracy theories around Soros and the mailed pipe bombs. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy deletes tweet claiming Soros and two other Democratic donors, all Jewish, were trying to ’buy’ the midterm elections. - Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer



House majority leader deletes tweet saying Soros, Bloomberg, Steyer are trying to ’buy’ election

By Devan Cole

Updated 1913 GMT (0313 HKT) October 28, 2018

Steyer: McCarthy tweet an anti-Semitic move

Washington (CNN)House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy posted and later deleted a tweet last week that suggested three Jewish, billionaire Democratic donors were attempting to “buy” the 2018 midterm elections.
“We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA,” McCarthy wrote in the tweet posted Tuesday and deleted a day later, a reference to top donors to Democratic causes George Soros and Tom Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Twitter users quickly condemned McCarthy’s claim, saying it was insensitive given the fact that it came just one day after authorities intercepted what appeared to be a pipe bomb sent to Soros’ New York home.

On Friday, a suspicious package addressed to Steyer, a hedge fund manager who is leading a campaign to impeach President Donald Trump, was discovered in Burlingame, California, making him one of more than a dozen prominent political figures and critics of the President who were the intended recipients of suspicious packages, some carrying pipe bombs, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
McCarthy’s communications director, Matt Sparks, said in a statement to CNN that he also gave to The Washington Post last week that McCarthy “has and will always condemn in the strongest possible way violence or any acts of attempted violence.”
“Understanding the particular sensitivity of the past 24 hours in the political climate today that has led to specific threats on both sides of the aisle, we will redouble our focus on our agenda of results,” he said.
Authorities believe the packages were sent by Cesar Sayoc, a 56-year-old Florida man who was charged on Friday with five federal crimes, including illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents and others, and assaulting current and former federal officers.
Soros, a billionaire investor and philanthropist, is a frequent target of right-wing criticism over his support for liberal causes, and both Steyer and Bloomberg have been politically active of late.
In response to the discovery of a suspicious package addressed to him, Steyer called for Trump’s impeachment.
In a tweet, Steyer wrote: “We’re thankful that everyone we work with is safe. We are seeing a systematic attack on our democracy that extends much further than just one isolated terrorist in Florida. That’s why we are running an impeachment petition to end the culture of lawlessness in our country.”
Steyer has financed a high-profile campaign for the President’s impeachment, using a series of national ad campaigns and town halls through his “Need to Impeach” organization to push his message. He had also pledged to spend up to $120 million in the 2018 midterms.
Bloomberg, who has been flirting with a potential run for president in 2020, has been making sizable donations to Democrats in an effort to help candidates around the country.
In early October, he announced that he was donating $20 million to a PAC that aims to flip the Senate. And earlier this year, he pledged to spend $80 million on Democratic congressional candidates. Last week, he put up another $10 million for ads for Democratic candidates in a last-minute effort to support the party ahead of next week’s midterm elections.
McCarthy’s tweet came days before a man opened fire at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, killing 11 people and injuring six others, including four police officers.
The alleged shooter, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, of Baldwin, Pennsylvania, surrendered to authorities after the Saturday morning shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. He made anti-Semitic statements during and after the shooting, and targeted Jews on social media, according to a federal law enforcement official.
Responding to the shooting on his Twitter account Saturday afternoon, McCarthy called the attack “heinous” and said that it was “perpetrated by anti-Semitism and hate.”
“May God’s grace be with the victims and their families,” he wrote.
During a Sunday interview on “Meet the Press,” host Chuck Todd asked Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, about an ad that the House GOP campaign arm aired in Minnesota attempting to tie Soros to Dan Feehan, a Democratic House candidate in the state.
One ad, released before the device sent to Soros was discovered, links an employer of Feehan’s to Soros by claiming he helped fund it and therefore Feehan.
Stivers defended the ad, calling it “factual.”
“Our independent expenditure arm is independent. But that ad is factual. And it also has nothing to do with calling for violence. That ad is a factual ad,” he told host Chuck Todd.
Asked on Sunday about McCarthy’s tweet on Soros, Steyer and Bloomberg, California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who is Jewish, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that he wasn’t sure what to make of it, but added that he thought the attacks on Soros in particular are driven by his Jewish faith.
“There are a lot of people (who) are generous to the Democratic Party,” Schiff said. “The fact that he’s become a symbol is not an accident. The fact that they’re promulgating this falsehood that he’s funding the caravan is an effort to give rebirth to this blood libel, that Jews are bringing impurity to the country, they’re bringing other people to dilute the purity of the country.”It’s an ancient hatred,“he continued.”And it’s no accident that they have made George Soros the symbol of this. And you do see people, from the President on down, playing on this, candidates around the country playing on this.“Schiff added that anti-Semitic incidents rose sharply last year, citing figures from the Anti-Defamation League.”(That) doesn’t happen of its own. It happens because it’s fed. And what will be necessary to overcome it is what the mayor was talking about,“Schiff said, referring to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s plea for unity at a Sunday morning news conference on the mass shooting.”And that is, these are still a minority of repugnant voices, and they have to be drowned out by our common goodness.“Steyer said in an interview on the same program that he interpreted McCarthy’s statement as”a straight-up anti-Semitic move. I think that that is a classic attempt to separate Americans. I think that absolutely falls into the category of what I’m describing as political violence. And I believe that what we are looking for in America is something completely different from that."

CNN’s Ashley Killough and Steve Brusk contributed to this report.



Twitter says that it ’made a mistake’ for not removing threatening tweets linked to Florida bomb suspect

Andrew Liptak

27.10.18 - 2 days ago

Studies find rise in anti-Semitic activity on Twitter, Instagram

After 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, Jr., was arrested on Friday on the suspicion that he mailed 13 explosives to prominent critics of President Donald Trump, the spotlight turned on a Twitter account that appears to belong to him, which he allegedly used to issue veiled threats to critics of the President. Twitter has apologized for not acting on tweets that clearly violated its terms of conduct.

After the account was surfaced on Friday, Rochelle Ritchie tweeted several screenshots of threatening tweets that @hardrock2016 sent to her. She also posted a screenshot of the Twitter’s response to her report: “we have reviewed your report carefully and found that there was no violation of the Twitter Rules against abusive behavior.”

Sayoc allegedly used the account to harass numerous others as well — Vice President Joe Biden, former New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout, and New York Times journalist and former Verge writer Sarah Jeong, often with similar threats.

In a series of tweets, @TwitterSafety apologized for not removing tweets sent to Ritchie, saying that “the Tweet clearly violated our rules and should have been removed.” Twitter indicated that it was investigating the lapse and would “continue to work to improve how we handle concerns raised by anyone on Twitter.”

We’ve reached out to Twitter to ask what steps they are taking to investigate and improve safety concerns, and will update if we hear back.

While Twitter did suspend @hardrock2016 after Sayoc was arrested, it comes long after the damage was done. This is afamiliar storyfrom Twitter: apologizing for reacting after the fact after it becomes clear that someone violated the site’s terms.