- There has been a sharp rise in the number of antisemitic incidents since the start of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- The ADL said that between May 7 and May 14, 17,000 tweets used variations of the phrase, "Hitler was right."
- Jewish creators told Insider that their posts are being targeted with antisemitic abuse.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
At 97, Lily Ebert is one of the oldest Jewish creators on TikTok. She is also a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, where the Nazis murdered 1.5 million Jews.
Neither facts were enough to restrain the online mob looking for Jews to abuse on social media since Israel's bombing campaign on Gaza began.
After posting an innocuous TikTok video wishing her followers a restful Shabbat (Sabbath) from her London home, her great-grandson and the account's administrator said she was flooded with "messages of hate."
A "Happy Holocaust," "Peace be upon Hitler," and "Ask her if she thinks the treatment of Palestinians reminds her [of] the treatment she got in the camps" were some of the comments Ebert received.
The targeting of the Auschwitz survivor is not a one-off; the Anti-Defamation League said that between May 7 and May 14, more than 17,000 tweets could be found that used variations of the phrase, "Hitler was right," Insider's Sarah Al-Arshani reported.
There has been a 500 percent increase in the number of antisemitic incidents reported in the UK since May 8, according to the Community Security Trust (CST). Around a third of the 116 incidents took place online, the charity said.
Insider spoke to several Jewish creators who described how the recent rise of anti-Jewish racism online, triggered by recent events in Israel and Gaza, has created an atmosphere so toxic that many are fearful for their safety and have considered leaving social media for good.
Content about being Jewish is often spammed with antisemitic comments
The majority of recent abuse is clearly driven by the most recent escalation of violence in the Middle East, Jewish creators told Insider.
But Jews in the diaspora, with no ties to Israel, were being held accountable for the death and destruction, Sara Gibbs, a Jewish comedy writer from London, said.
"Ordinary Jews are blamed for the actions of a state thousands of miles away," Gibbs told Insider. "Regardless of what you feel about Israel, we don't have a collective responsibility for the actions of a foreign government. To suggest otherwise is just plain racism."
Jewish creators also said that their accounts are being spammed without even referencing the conflict, and any content identifying themselves as Jewish is often enough to attract antisemitic abuse.
Katie Rez, a Canadian YouTuber, explained how apolitical content about her Jewish identity regularly leads to her receiving hateful comments. "I'll post a video about being Jewish and then people will just be like, 'Oh, so you support killing babies.' I'm like, okay, that's uncalled for," she said.
In one recent incident, another YouTuber made a video that focused on her wearing a Star of David necklace. What followed was a barrage of antisemitic comments on her social media accounts, she said.
"Ew, she's a Jew," said one comment. "Death to Jews," said another.
Melinda Strauss, a TikToker with over 36,000 followers, said that her videos chronicling her life as an Orthodox Jew in New York also frequently receive racist responses. "When I'm talking about keeping kosher at Trader Joe's, why are people commenting and saying these things?" she told Insider.
Recently, her 12-year-old son became the focus of antisemitic attacks online after posting a video of him wearing a yarmulke. Commenters wrote "six million wasn't enough" - referring to the estimated number of Jews killed in the Holocaust - and told him to "get back in the oven," Strauss said.
"A video about my son's yarmulke, literally the back of my son's head, was also getting message, after message, after message of people calling him a Palestinian killer," she said.
Many Jewish TikTok and Instagram users have shared videos describing how content without a single reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is often targeted with comments blaming Jews for the death of Palestinians.
It has also become increasingly common on TikTok and Instagram for users to spam videos with "Free Palestine" or emojis of the Palestinian flag on unrelated content made by Jewish creators.
"It's not antisemitic in any way to say, 'Free Palestine,'" Gibbs said. "It is antisemitic, however, to jump on a Jew's page and say, 'Free Palestine,' for absolutely no reason other than they're Jewish."
The CST said it is committed to differentiating between "general anti-Israel campaigning" and antisemitic abuse.
"It's only when the use of the "Free Palestine" slogan is targeted at blameless Jews, as often is the case on social media, that it is recorded as a potential hate crime. "If someone were to single out a random Jewish person specifically as the target, then we would count it as antisemitic because it's clearly being used in order to intimidate or harass that person," Dave Rich, head of policy at the CST, said.
Even Jewish creators who speak in support of Palestinians are harassed
Jewish creators who choose to comment on the conflict say that harassment ensues regardless of their leaning on the issue.
Rachel SJ, a Jewish TikTok creator with over 45,000 followers, said that there is a problem with the common assumption that all Jews hold the same view on the matter.
"It's interesting because I even know creators that have posted their views speaking out against Israel's actions and then on other videos they're still getting harassed in the comments," they said.
The Los Angeles influencer posted a video about how to support Palestinians, but still receives an influx of abuse on their posts.
"I'm definitely seeing a lot of hate towards Jews, probably as an attempt in solidarity or to help Palestinians, and obviously nobody wants to see other people's suffering, but targeting random Jews creates a really unsafe place," they said.
Gibbs has shared a similar experience on Twitter, where she has 47,000 followers. "I find the actions of the government abhorrent and I can't and won't defend them," she said. "I understand that emotions run high when you see videos of children in distress or dead kids- but the target of the attacks is wrong."
'I've been scared to walk around in Toronto'
Gibbs has taken temporary breaks from using Twitter to protect herself from an overwhelming amount of antisemitic abuse. Other creators have said that the atmosphere online has become so toxic that they have considered deleting their accounts permanently.
"I consider it all the time," Rachel SJ said. "I talk to fellow Jewish creators about it and some of them have already left."
Rez has also weighed up deleting her YouTube channel. "I have considered it but I'm not going to, especially when it comes to antisemitism, just because I feel like it's my duty to talk about this stuff."
But her experiences online have made her increasingly afraid of real-life encounters, she said. "I've been scared to walk around in Toronto," Rez added.
There are concerns in the Jewish community that online attacks are encouraging in-person attacks.
"Grotesque displays of anti-Jewish racism should have no place on social media, yet we have found online networks rife with it, and it is now finding its way onto campuses and our streets," a spokesperson for the anti-racism charity Campaign Against Antisemitism told Insider.
Hate crimes against Jews in several cities across the world have surged in the past couple of weeks.
In Toronto, an elderly Jewish man was assaulted in Toronto while attending a pro-Palestinian event, the algemeiner reported.
A religiously aggravated assault of a rabbi led to two arrests in the United Kingdom, the Jewish News said.
Four men were arrested in London after a convoy of cars shouted racist and misogynistic abuse in a predominantly Jewish part of London, Sky News reported.
-Spotify fan JB™️ (@gunnerpunner) May 16, 2021
In the US, the ADL - which tracks antisemitic incidents - said in the week after the fighting in Israel and Palestine began they received 193 reports of anti-Jewish attacks.
These incidents include two cars attempting to chase down a Jewish man in Los Angeles and the beating of a 29-year-old Jewish man in New York's Times Square.
Synagogues in Tucson, Arizona, and Salt Lake City, Utah, have also been vandalized with swastikas, Fox News said.
"This should be a wake-up call to all decent people that antisemitism online and offline is spiraling out of control," the Campaign Against Antisemitism spokesperson said.
'It leaves scars on the Jewish community'
It is hoped that, with the recent news of a ceasefire on Friday, the number of antisemitic incidents might stop rising so dramatically.
"The pattern previously has been that when the conflicts in Israel end or calm down, things tend to calm down," Rich said.
But the damage dealt will still leave an impact, he added. "It leaves scars on the Jewish community and on the individual people affected by it, and those take a long time to kind of wear off."
The creators hope that recent events might encourage people to reflect.
"I hope people educate themselves about what antisemitism is and looks like in all of its many forms because it can be very subtle. It can be really hard to name and see because so much of it is normalized and prevalent," Rachel SJ said.
Strauss agreed and stressed the importance of one particular lesson. "People have to learn to separate me as a Jewish person living in New York, or a Jewish person living in California, or anywhere outside of the Middle East, from what's happening in these conflicts," she said.