Bias and discrimination can show up in our communities in different ways. With a rise in antisemitic behavior both on and offline, it’s important that neighborhood moderators are equipped with the tools to understand, identify, and combat antisemitism in the event they may arise in neighborhood conversations.
What is antisemitism?
Antisemitism is prejudice, discrimination, or hatred against Jewish people based on their cultural identity, religion, or ethnicity. It is often rooted in harmful stereotypes or myths which reinforce negative beliefs about Jewish people. Antisemitism has been expressed through hate speech, harassment, physical violence, and genocide. It’s important to note that when there is a rise in social unrest, we tend to also see an increase in antisemitic incidents. (Source)
Examples of modern antisemitism:
- Use of anti-Jewish symbolism, like the swastika
- The use of negative stereotypes against Jewish people, even in a joking manner
- Physical violence against religious institutions, like synagogues
- Hateful or threatening messages online towards Jewish people
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jewish people
- Accusing people of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust
Harmful Jewish stereotypes:
- Stereotype: Jewish people are a part of a conspiracy to control the media, politics, finance, etc.
- Stereotype: Jewish people use deceitful business practices to acquire wealth and control
- Stereotype: Jewish people are only focused on money and material possessions
Why is antisemitism harmful?
Studies have shown that the senseless hatred or othering of a group of people based on their social identities can lead to harmful long-term physical and mental health effects. (Source)
Roughly 1 in 4 Jewish people have experienced hate speech or other forms of antisemitic behaviors. Fear of antisemitism can also lead to the suppression of one's personal identity for fear of it being used against them. These acts can greatly impact one's physical and mental health triggering fear, anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, and more.
As we learned earlier in Moderator Academy, coded language describes the use of seemingly innocent words that have alternative, or offensive meaning. The use of coded language offers an indirect way to subtly indicate bias without explicitly stating, or being held accountable for the harm. This discriminatory behavior reinforces harmful, negative stereotypes and makes it more difficult to call out and combat anti-semitic attitudes. In order to cultivate a safe and welcoming neighborhood for all, it’s important to be able to identify and report the use of coded language on Nextdoor.
Examples of coded language used in antisemitism:
- Phrases like: “globalist elites,” “zionist occupation,” “cultural Marxism,” or “new world order.” These phrases may be shared in ways that seem harmless or progressive.
- “Zionist” or “Zionism” may be used to suggest that Jewish people are colluding to take over the world.
- “Soros” or “Soros-funded” may be used to refer to Jewish billionaire George Soros but can also be used as a code for “Jewish conspiracy.”
- “Holohoax” is a term used by Holocaust deniers to imply that the Holocaust is a myth.
Identifying antisemitism online
Our goal is for moderators to be able to recognize antisemitism in the event it’s used in conversation, understand its harm, and take informed, confident actions to ensure your neighborhood remains a welcoming place for everyone.
In the event you notice a conversation with antisemitic themes taking place in your neighborhood, we want you to feel empowered to moderate and/or de-escalate these conversations in healthy and productive ways. Below, you'll see how best to take action on these kinds of posts should you see them in your neighborhood.
To best engage in conversations about antisemitism in your neighborhood, we recommend the following:
- Educate yourself about antisemitism, including its history and harm.
- Engage Jewish friends and neighbors in conversations about their experiences. Listen. Be present, and listen intently to what they say even if it creates feelings of discomfort.
- Reflect on the conversation. Think about what you learned by listening to your neighbor. Put yourself in their shoes, and try to develop true empathy—the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person—for their experience.
- Check your temperature before posting online. Be mindful of your own mental and emotional state, and wait until you feel calm and balanced to discuss.
- Avoid using anti-Jewish language or making references to Jewish stereotypes, even jokingly.
- Speak out against antisemitic jokes and tropes.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to engage in every conversation you come across online. Consider moving past the discussion if:
- You feel triggered by what has already been posted, and are not in a calm emotional state to respond thoughtfully;
- If what you’re going to say is not going to contribute to the conversation in a constructive way, or is not rooted in data or lived experience;
- If what you’re going to say is going to hurt someone (especially if they have a lived experience that is different from you);
- If what you’re going to say is not something you would be willing to say to a person face-to-face, in real life;
- You simply do not have the emotional bandwidth to educate or inform your neighbors.
For more support in having a hard conversation with neighbors, or supporting neighbors in having tough conversations with each other, see: Facilitating hard conversations: A kind guide
What you can do if you witness an antisemitic incident in the real world
- Report the incident to your local authorities;
- Report the incident to an anti-hate group for tracking purposes (such as the Anti-Defamation League);
- Personally reach out to those affected in a show of solidarity;
- Educate yourself and others about antisemitism, in an effort to build tolerance.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other resources
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) calls attention to all forms of antisemitism and empowers people and communities with tools to address it. According to a report by the ADL, in 2022, antisemitic incidents in the U.S. increased by 36% and have currently reached an all-time high. (Source) These incidents happen on and offline and are often normalized and amplified by elected officials, entertainers, influencers, and athletes.
While the ADL is the world's leading anti-hate organization, they have also been criticized by progressive individuals and organizations for a history of “attacking social justice movements led by communities of color, queer people, immigrants, and other marginalized groups.” (Source) While it is legitimate for neighbors to voice their opinions about organizations like the ADL, content that discriminates against Jewish people or delegitimizes the Holocaust is never allowed on Nextdoor.
- ADL - Resources to Address and Challenge Antisemitism
- Resources for Combating Antisemitism
- Hate Glossary
- International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance