It’s a deadly cancer. And it’s the new Holocaust denial.
Denying the horrors of October 7, that is. The sexual violence committed against Israeli women and girls, as well as the utter brutality of it all – the burnings, the beheadings, the torture, the cold-blooded murders. That is the new denial.
Denying acts of anti-Semitism is as old as Judaism itself. For centuries before the birth of Christ – for centuries before Palestine was even a word on a map – serial horrors have been endured by Jews. And those horrors, in turn, have been denied by those committing them – or those standing by, watching it all. Doing nothing.
In the past, anti-Semitic denialism took the form of grubby leaflets, passed out at secret night rallies – or in the ravings of madmen, speaking to their puny flocks, illuminated by nighttime cross-burnings. No longer. Not now. Now, the Jew-hating deniers merely need to tap a button on a keyboard, and their epistles of hate will be seen instantaneously, globally, by millions.
Tal-Or Cohen Montemayor is the executive director of CyberWell, a non-profit that monitors and combats online anti-Semitism. It finds online anti-Semitism, brings it to the attention of the owners of online platforms, and urges them to remove it – or at least, as Cohen Montemayor says, “de-amplfy it.”
These days, she and her group are very, very busy. At one time, Cohen Montemayor said in an interview, Jew-haters and Hitler freaks denied the Holocaust more than they denied anything else. How else to rehabilitate the reputations of Adolf Hitler and Naziism, than to deny the monstrous crimes they committed?
But now, the deniers are focussed on a newer attempt at a holocaust – Hamas’ slaughter of 1,200 men, women, children and babies in Israel on October 7, 2023. Says Cohen Montemayor over a phone line from Tel Aviv:
“With October 7 denial, unlike Holocaust denial – which was kind of limited to these fringe groups – now we’re seeing anti-Semitism in the mainstream, and amplified by algorithms to be seen by millions and millions of people. And that’s why it’s the newest and most alarming iteration of anti-Semitism today,” she says. “And it needs to be called out and stopped.”
CyberWell has produced a voluminous report on October 7 denial, released this week. A summary of its findings:
• The anti-Semitic deniers have been pushing three main themes around the globe: “there were no acts of rape; the State of Israel orchestrated the violent events; and Israel and the Jews are profiting from the massacre.”
• CyberWell looked at just 313 specific examples of online Jew hatred, on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube. What they found “had a far-reaching impact, collectively garnering over 25 million views, after being reported to the platforms, only six per cent was removed.”
• The worst offender was X, Twitter. Even after CyberWell brought examples of anti-Semitic tweets/posts to the attention of the platform owned by billionaire Elon Musk, only two per cent of it was removed. Said Cyber Well: “X is the leading platform hosting October 7 denial content.”
• The deniers wasted no time: some of them commenced denying the crimes of October 7 just hours later, on the morning of October 8. And, writes CyberWell: “While journalists and reporters led denial discourse on X, TV stars and celebrities led denial discourse on TikTok and Instagram.”
Some of the examples cited in the report are astonishing. They show that just one October 12 post – which read, in part, that “no babies were beheaded and no women were raped” – was seen 2.8 million times.
All of this – denying the violence, mocking the victims of violence – is prohibited by every major online platform, from Meta to TikTok to X to YouTube. All of them. In some cases, and in some countries like Canada, it is against the law.
But the platforms aren’t doing nearly enough to stop it. Says Cohen Montemayor: “These guys already have rules on the books. And I know they are more capable of removing anti-Semitic content online than they are presently doing.”
Hear that, Elon Musk? Your Act of Contrition tour to the death chambers at Auschwitz was a start. But when you get back to the office, you have much work to do.
Because denial of October 7 is deeply anti-Semitic – and it’s a cancer.
And it’s spreading.