By Olivier Melnick
Having spent the first 27 years of my life in France, I take pride saying that French people make the best pastries in the world, if not the best food overall. Culturally speaking, over the centuries, France has provided the world with some of the most talented artists, composers, writers, musicians and other creative minds. Frankly, even though I have now been an American citizen for almost eight years, I still very much appreciate my French heritage. There is truth in the statement "You can take me out of France but you can't take France out of me!".
This being said, there is one aspect of my heritage that I despise wholeheartedly, and that is the chronic anti-Semitism that has plagued the French people for centuries. Being born out of a Jewish family in Paris and having lost part of that family in the Holocaust, anti-Semitism has been a permanent dark cloud over my family and my people, and as it appears, the cloud is thickening and darkening on an almost daily basis in France. To be sure, France is a symptom of the disease and the rest of the world is certainly not immune.
We have heard from historians that before he was stopped, Hitler was only months away from acquiring the atomic bomb. Had he gotten his hands on the bomb, the consequences would have been catastrophic for Europe in general and Jewish people in particular. Then again if you ask me, for someone "without the bomb" he did a pretty thorough job in his attempt to completely annihilate European Jewry!
The question I have come to ask myself is: What would have Hitler done if he had the "cyber bomb" at his disposal?
Hitler might be long gone, but his disciples live on. Today's anti-Semites might not be in a position to drop a nuclear warhead on the Jews (except maybe Iran on Israel if we don't stop them very soon). Nevertheless, the advent of the Internet has allowed Jew haters to spread propaganda against my people at warp speed and to more people than Hitler could have ever dreamed of. The recruiting of a global army against the Jews has never been easier than in our age of world wide web, Internet and social medias. The technology is constantly moving forward, and the creative minds of those who seek to demonize the Jews are flowing with ideas. These ideas are translated into slander, libel and hate crimes faster than one can push the "enter" key on their keyboard. As the old monster of Jew hatred is getting a global face lift, anti-Semites around the globe gather in a constant virtual community where they congregate and conspire against Israel and the Jewish people.
#UnBonJuif: Anti-Semitic Hashtag Causes Outrage In France
On October 10, Twitter was bombarded with tweets originated from France and connected to #unbonjuif, meaning "a good Jew". A plethora of tweets were received, sent and re-tweeted and are now causing the authorities to discuss if and where the line was crossed between freedom of speech and hate crime. One is to wonder how much damage can be done in the short string of words constituting a tweet, I will let you decide as you read some of them here:
- A good Jew is a dead Jew
- A good Jew should be done medium/rare
- A good Jew doesn't exist
- A good Jew is hard to cook
Of course, if that doesn't convince you, maybe tweets linking to a picture of a concentration camp or to a picture of a pile of ashes will help you see the sickness in all this. Critics of the tweets were quickly told that the people behind the messages were "spoofing kindly". I'd hate to see what they would say if they were really anti-Semitic?
Tweets are the cyber-graffiti of the 21st century. They allow people to express their opinions, but with much more danger than the old school spray paint on the building wall.
- While painted graffiti expressed an opinion that mostly remained anonymous, tweets are attached to people and always have an identity.
- While graffiti became disconnected from their author the moment he/she left the area where the slogan had been placed, tweets become instantly interconnected to a global network of millions. All we have to do is look at how the "Arab Spring" was kept informed to understand the power of the social media.
- While it is still possible (yet often difficult) to catch and stop the author of a graffiti in the act and charge him/her accordingly (including making them clean the surface they had defaced), it is somewhat impossible to stop Twitter from spreading a tweet once it has gone viral.
Twitter and Facebook currently provide a platform that unfortunately is legally uncharted. Much remains to be discovered, monitored and controlled. In the meantime, the old monster of anti-Semitism will continue to tighten its grip on my people. Propaganda, recruiting and calls to action will only increase in occurrence and intensity.
Anti-Semitism has been viral in the hearts of many for centuries, and I am terrified to see the damage it could do once it really goes viral in cyberspace. I am afraid that it is well on its way already, and once again, it would behoove us to speak up against it. After all, if Twitter and Facebook can be used for evil, they certainly can be used for good. The choice is ours!
- Twitter Removes Anti-Semitic Postings, French Jewish Group Says • New York Times
- Twitter to Remove French Anti-Semitic Messages with #Unbonjuif after Threat of Legal Action • IBTimes.co.uk
- The Source of Anti-Semitism • SpiritandTruth.org (Andy Woods)
- For First Time,Twitter Blocks Neo-Nazi Account in Germany • Arutz Sheva
- German Jewish leader tells Haaretz: Anti-Semitism mounting in my country • Haaretz
- The Jewish future is only in Israel • Israel Hayom (Haim Shine)