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Twitter facing 48-hour walkout following inaction on antisemitism

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StandWithUs Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson: Antisemitism is not a second-class form of racism, it is to be taken seriously and acted against. Antisemitism is deadly.

By ILANIT CHERNICK

As antisemitism continues to plague Twitter, a group of activists including well-known British actress Tracy-Ann Oberman have organized a campaign to boycott the social media platform for 48 hours.

The campaign #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate is set to take place on Monday from 9 am. The hashtag started trending on Saturday following more antisemitic hate from another famous celebrity. This time UK rapper Wiley, who has some 500,000 followers, joined the fray posting a tirade of antisemitic tweets, inciting hatred and violence. 

Although several of the tweets were removed, the rapper was only banned from the social media platform for a short time, returning after a few hours and continuing his rant.

In recent weeks, several high profile celebrities have taken to Twitter to spew antisemitic hate while several hashtags like #JewishPrivilege and #Jews have also trended due to antisemitism spread by extremists on the platform.

Twitter has been under fire for continuing to be inactive against extremist and antisemitic posts and accounts on the platform, leading many to criticize its continued inaction.

Numerous celebrities have joined the call to take part in the Twitter Walkout including Oberman, singer-songwriter Jessie Ware, writer and producer Lee Kern, Imam of Peace Mohammad Tawhidi, TV presenter Rachel Riley, broadcaster Maajid Nawaz and writer and analyst Shiraz Maher, to name a few.

Several members of the UK parliament and academics have also pledged their support alongside groups and organizations such StandWithUs, The Jewish Chronicle, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, Labour Against Antisemitism, The Jewish News, among others.

Speaking to IsraelNewsStand about why he is joining the campaign, Arsen Ostrovsky, an international human rights lawyer and leading pro-Israel advocate, said that “enough is enough.

“This is a powerful message by the Jewish community and our allies, that we will not tolerate Twitter and other on-line platforms turning their backs and amplifying the voices of Antisemites,” he said. “There cannot be one standard against all other forms of racism, while another for hatred targeted against the Jewish community. 

“I hope Twitter and other social media companies consider this as a loud wake-up call,” Ostrovsky.

Executive Director of StandWithUs Israel Michael Dickson stressed that “Twitter has and should be a powerful force for good in our world” which gives “voice to the voiceless, democracy to those in dictatorships and sharing ideas that unite us.” 

Instead, he told IsraelNewsStand, “antisemitic statements, calls for violence against Jews and “dog-whistle” antisemitism is allowed to fester and spread. 

“We are joining this initiative to say clearly: enough is enough,” Dickson emphasized. “Antisemitism is not a second-class form of racism, it is to be taken seriously and acted against. Antisemitism is deadly.”

Commenting on the Twitter walkout, Oberman said that Twitter has allowed UK rapper Wiley “48 hours of pure race hate. His tweets are still up.” 

She called on Twitter and its CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey “to stick by their remit of anti-racism. 

“Silence is complicity. Please walk out with us. No to all race hate. No to platforming any race hate. #nosafespaceforjewhate,” Oberman wrote.

Famed Scottish comic book writer Mark Millar has shared that he will be taking part in the walkout tweeting, “I won’t be on Twitter Monday or Tuesday this week in solidarity with my Jewish pals. See ye all on Wednesday. #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate.”

Adding its voice to the campaign, the Holocaust Educational Trust said in a statement that it would also be taking part.

“The failure of Twitter and Instagram to adequately deal with the torrent of antisemitic abuse from a prominent grime artist on their platforms over recent days sadly comes as no surprise,” the organization said. “For years, these platforms and the companies behind them have been warned that they risk becoming safe spaces for hate.”

It stressed that the fact it was still possible for a well-known musician to “share Holocaust denial and racist messages with hundreds of thousands of impressionable young people is a chilling demonstration of their failure to take these warnings seriously.

“We join others in saying enough is enough,” adding that they too will be joining the Twitter Walkout.

“Recent weeks have seen people around the world come together to stand up against antisemitism and racism,” it said. “we will not be divided.”

“It is about time that social media companies live up to the values their users would expect,” the Holocaust Educational Trust concluded.

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