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Trolls Stir Up Trouble Between Blacks and Jews

3 min read

American Jews and Blacks have a long complicated history. Jews have always been at the forefront of the civil rights movement, risking and sometimes losing their lives to help Blacks get the right to vote and other rights. On the other hand, there is a history of tension between Jewish landlords and Black tenants, and incidents such as when the Lubavitcher leader’s motorcade killed a young Black man in Brooklyn.

So it’s complicated. But now, and not for the first time, right-wing trolls are trying to simplify matters — by egging Blacks and Jews to hate each other. From Ha’aretz (behind a paywall): Far-right Trolls Pose as Jews to Aggravate Tensions With African American Community

In the wake of the shooting and stabbing attacks on Orthodox Jews in New York and New Jersey as well as the ongoing anti-Semitic violence in the area, far-right online trolls are once again creating fake Jewish profiles on social media to fan the flames of discord between the black and Jewish communities.

The story says this has been going on for at least the past 6 months, with fake Twitter accounts pretending to be Jews endorsing extreme views. CNN also picked up on this yesterday: A fake Twitter account stirred tensions between Jews and African Americans. Trolls celebrated.

Trolls on the online forum 4chan celebrated on New Year’s Day as a fake Twitter (TWTR) account seeking to stoke tensions between Jewish and black Americans amid a string of anti-Semitic attacks in New York provoked outrage. Even as the trolls celebrated, the account went unchecked by Twitter for hours despite dozens of users saying they reported the account to the social media company.

The account bore clear hallmarks of the kind of fake beloved by racist trolls: It used a supposedly stereotypical Jewish name, its bio contained extreme statements that trolls use to parody liberals, it was just set up on Wednesday, and its profile image was a stolen picture of a real person — a Scottish comedian who’s been a 4chan target and who did not authorize the use of her photo.

CNN’s article focused on Twitter’s inexplicable delay in suspending the account (they finally did so, several hours after receiving many many complaints about it). Ha’aretz has even more serious concerns:

People underestimate the power of 4chan, but it is a radicalization breeding ground: it concentrates “lone wolves” allowing them to coordinate.

One chilling bulletin board post from mid-December encouraged white supremacists to “infiltrate” the black community and prompted them to identify as Black Israelites because “it will turn them into traditional men who hate [transexuals] and Jews.”

Ha’aretz ran an opinion piece a few days ago examining claims of Black anti-Semitism: No, N.Y. Attacks Don’t Show That Black People Have an anti-Semitism Problem. The writer makes this point:

The question is not whether black people have an anti-Semitism problem, because an entire group cannot be painted in such generalizing terms. These attacks are not occurring with any similar frequency in other areas of the United States: they are largely confined to the New York area. Even where other Jewish communities mix with black communities, such as in Chicago, these horrors have not occurred nearly as often.

as part of his argument that we simply don’t have enough data. He’s correct as far as he goes, but I think we need to be collecting data on the deliberate attempts by right-wing extremists, White supremacists, to incite hatred and violence between two groups, Blacks and Jews, that they despise. This not only weakens our ability to fight back against these extremists, it provides them “validation” of their racist and anti-Semitic beliefs.

And by “our ability,” I mean not just that of Blacks and Jews; I mean all of us who are committed to a liberal, open, pluralistic world. The kind of world where this hatred cannot survive. The haters know this. Their goal is more than just “divide and conquer”; it’s a divide, conquer, and confine. And eventually, exterminate.

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