Of all the hate crime watchdog groups out there, none are more hypersensitive than the anti-Semitism monitors. Disagree with a Jewish politician about tax policy? That’s anti-Semitism. Call another Jewish lawmaker “shifty?” Nice job, Hitler. Make fun of Israel’s heavy-handed policing of Palestinian territories? You’ll soon have the watchdogs breathing down your neck.
That’s what happened on Monday, after The Onion, a well-known satirical news site, retweeted an old article with the headline ‘IDF Soldier Recounts Harrowing, Heroic War Story Of Killing 8-Month-Old Child.’
“I could see the whites of the baby’s eyes and hear her terrifying cries, and I knew it was either her or me,” the fictional Israeli soldier in the article tells his comrades. “And this wasn’t some newborn infant, you know? This was a baby who could probably sit up independently. I was scared, but I acted quickly to throw that tear gas at her and her older sister. And who knows how many lives I saved when I shot the women trying to help her?”
The story was retweeted after several days of street violence in Jerusalem, which culminated with the Israel Defense Forces pounding Gaza with airstrikes in response to Palestinian rocket attacks. Palestinian officials say that nine children were killed in the Israeli strikes, while Palestinian rockets killed two Israeli civilians and wounded several others, including a 12-year-old child.
To be clear, there is blame on both sides here. But make fun of Israel’s proclivity for killing Palestinian children, and you’re an anti-Semite. That’s according to StopAntisemitism.org, a New York-based watchdog group whose Twitter tagline reads “We expose antisemitism, regardless of source.”
The group didn’t just kvetch about the article. It offered a “prize” to anyone on the Onion’s staff willing to snitch on whoever tweeted the story out.
Nowhere in the article are Jewish people, the Jewish faith, or the Jewish ethnicity mentioned. To call it anti-Semitic is a ludicrous overreach, but perfectly on brand for a group like StopAntisemitism. This is the same organization, after all, that got mad earlier this year when Marvel Comics depicted a jewelry store as Jewish-owned, and thinks every cartoon depiction of wealthy bankers is an anti-Jewish slight. They must be deaf from hearing “dog whistles” all day, every day.
It’s not as if the story was concocted out of pure anti-Israel malice either. In the time since it was first written in 2018, Israeli troops have allegedly shot and killed numerous children. To conflate crtiticism of these shootings with anti-Semitism, and the actions of the IDF with Judaism in general, is not just an overreach. It’s dangerously counterproductive. If organizations like StopAntisemitism continue making the same comparison, aren’t they to blame if the public eventually associates “Israel” and “Jewish people” with such acts?
Even the Anti-Defamation League, another group that sees anti-Semitism everywhere it looks, thinks the comparison is a bit of a stretch. “We don’t have to agree with criticism of Israeli policy. But we can’t say it is beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse, and it surely isn’t anti-Semitism,” the group’s official stance on the issue reads, noting that criticism crosses the line only when “all Jews are held responsible for the actions of Israel,” or the country is “denied the right to exist as a Jewish state and equal member of the global community.”
Regardless of one’s opinion in the anti-Israel/anti-Semitism debate, StopAntisemitism’s tweet appears to break Twitter’s rules on doxxing, which “prohibit threatening to expose private information or incentivizing others to do so.”
“Asking for or offering a bounty or financial reward in exchange for posting someone’s private information” is explicitly prohibited under these rules.
But imagine the uproar if Twitter actually enforced this rule and censored such an organization. The shrieking from StopAntisemitism and its ilk would be deafening, and the PR headache for Twitter wouldn’t be worth it. Far better instead to let the tweet stay up, and let organizations like StopAntisemitism expose themselves for the thin-skinned, humorless dweebs that they are.
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