July 26, 2023 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 505

Fight Antisemites, Not Antisemitism

July 26, 2023 | By Yigal Carmon*
MEMRI Daily Brief No. 505


The rise in violent antisemitism in the West is so significant that the White House, the European Union, and the United Nations have all taken action to devise strategies to counter this phenomenon. This document will address historic and modern antisemitism, will analyze recent national and global strategies for combating it, and will suggest an effective strategy and plan of action.

It is critical to understand that there is no such thing as "combating antisemitism" without combating antisemites themselves, in the same way that one cannot fight crime without fighting criminals or fight terrorism without fighting terrorists. As will be explained below, any strategy that deviates from this principle constitutes an evasion on the part of governments from their responsibility to protect targeted minorities.

Antisemitism – A Historical Perspective

Antisemitism is a multifaceted millennial phenomenon with deep roots in Christian[1] and Islamic traditions, and it would be presumptuous to suggest that antisemitism can be eradicated. Every era has had its own distinct expression of antisemitism, including blood libels, the Black Plague, accusations that the Jews were poisoning wells, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion conspiracy, and accusations that the Jews foment revolutions throughout the world.[2] Today, one of the most prominent antisemitic conspiracy theories in the West is that the Jews are implementing a plot to replace whites in America and Europe with minorities.[3]

Antisemitism and Israel

Over the past century, the Israeli-Arab conflict (and later the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) has been serving as a catalyst for antisemitism aimed at Jews outside of Israel, even though these Jews have little or no connection to the conflict or to the State of Israel.[4]

In modern history, two solutions to antisemitism arose among Jews: The first was to assimilate, and the second – Zionism – was to establish a Jewish state and bring to it all the Jews from the diaspora, thus transforming the Jews into a nation among the nations and ending antisemitism. Neither answer appears to have solved the problem of pervasive antisemitism.

To illustrate the point that violent antisemitism today is generally not related to Israel, it is useful to note that the most extreme cases of violent antisemitism were not motivated by issues relating to Israel:

  • The neo-Nazi protestors at Charlottesville chanted "Jews will not replace us!" – they were not talking about Israel or Israelis.

  • Robert Bowers, who carried out the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018 (which was the most lethal antisemitic attack in U.S. history), carried out the attack on the basis of his belief that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), an American Jewish organization established in 1881, was working to replace whites with Latin American immigrants.

  • Poway synagogue shooter John Earnest[5] was motivated, among other things, by the Simon of Trent blood libel of the 15th century, and was similarly not concerned with Israel. With regard to the blood libel, Earnest wrote that every Jew living today is responsible.

  • Payton Gendron, who shot and killed 10 AfricanAmericans in a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, revealed in his manifesto that he admired John Earnest and Robert Bowers. He referred to them as "ethno-soldiers," adding: "The Jews […] must be called out and killed, If they are lucky, they will be exiled."

  • Since 2003, more than a dozen Jews have been killed for reasons unrelated to Israel, including a 65year-old doctor named Sarah Halimi, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor named Mireille Knoll, and an 89-year-old man named Rene Hadjadj. (For more details, including about other murders of Jews in France, see MEMRI Daily Brief No. 391).

Western Strategies For Combating Antisemitism

This section will examine the strategies for combating antisemitism recently proposed by the European Commission, by the United States, and by the United Nations.

The European Commission's EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism

The European response, as presented in late 2021 by the European Commission's office responsible for combating antisemitism, consists of the following components:

  • Appointing envoys for combating antisemitism in EU countries.[6]

  • Holding conferences on the subject.

  • Issuing various calls to action.

  • Fostering "Jewish life" and addressing peripheral issues such as kosher food and Jewish holidays.

  • Increased education and awareness about antisemitism.

  • Statements about the need to strengthen the fight against online antisemitism, with no plan of action or public activity.

With the exception of "fostering Jewish life," these elements may in general be contributing to the public delegitimization of antisemitism. However, any confrontation of antisemites is painfully missing. Instead, the strategy busies itself with fostering Jewish life.

For example, in late 2021 the EU's office for combating antisemitism celebrated the Jewish holiday of Tu B'shvat,[7] which is the beginning of the Jewish agricultural year, apparently to demonstrate that Jews care for the environment. This is clearly a well-intentioned effort to refute the antisemitic notion that Jews are different from non-Jews, as well as the Nazi notion (promoted by Adolf Hitler himself) that Jews do not care about nature.

The following examples will relate specifically to Germany, because as the country that had perpetrated the Holocaust, it has a special responsibility to lead the EU in fighting antisemites (instead of following the EU consensus as it has said it is doing with regard to Iran's IRGC, whose operatives opened fire at a synagogue in Germany).[8] Unfortunately, Germany's approach to combating antisemitism has focused on improving the image of the Jews, who are the victims of antisemitism.

In the first of these examples, the German Federal Government recently funded a project by a Jewish organization in Berlin to "reduce prejudices, impart knowledge about Jewish life, and create space for an open dialogue in German society." The project centers around a website where users can ask questions about Judaism, and the example questions, which are artfully stylized and visible on the website, include: "Can sex be kosher?", "Is there a Jewish Tinder?", "Is Harry Potter Jewish?", "Does the Torah come in paperback?", and "Is matzah a Jewish boy's name?"[9]

The example questions in the Federal Government-funded project to "reduce prejudices" against Jews.

In a second example from Germany, in 2021, Germany's government-funded Central Council of Jews launched a program called "Meet a Jew," which was under the patronage of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.[10] A few years prior, in 2017, a Munich-based NGO launched a program called "Rent-A-Jew" in an attempt to counter antisemitism. One of the Jewish participants in the program said: "We want to give people the chance to talk to the Jewish community. We want them to see what we're completely normal people."[11] In 2013, Berlin's Jewish museum mounted an exhibit titled "The Jew In the Box," where a Jew would sit in a box and answer questions from non-Jewish Germans.[12]

"The Jew in the Box"

It is interesting to note that a similar approach was adopted in 1933 by the Zentralverein (Central Organization of Jews in Germany), which in an attempt to counter the threat posed by Nazism published a 1060-page encyclopedia about the contributions made by Jews in various fields.

It is clear that the European approach, which seeks to integrate the Jews into society, is motivated by good intentions. However, the chosen methods are misguided and cause the opposite of the desired effect. Moreover, they evade the crucial task of confronting antisemites themselves, and focus on the less-demanding task of doing PR for the Jews.

The U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism

The U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, which was published in May 2023 and is discussed at greater length in MEMRI Daily Brief No. 488, includes several instances of placing Islamophobia on par with antisemitism. Even though hatred of Muslims is a real phenomenon in the United States, the two are not comparable because there are far more antisemitic hate crimes than there are for any other anti-religious ideology in America. Moreover, many Muslim clerics in America themselves preach antisemitism and call for violence against Jews. By juxtaposing antisemitism and Islamophobia, which are not comparable, the Strategy mistakenly puts the victim and the victimizer together (see MEMRI's Imams in the West project).

Notably, the fact sheet published by the Biden administration about the Strategy even mentions "commitments to counter antisemitism and build cross-community solidarity" by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), with the goal of educating religious communities about protecting themselves from hate incidents.[13] CAIR's inclusion in this effort is incongruous with the goals of the Strategy since some of its members are known for having made antisemitic statements and are therefore part of the problem.

Hence, the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism is also fundamentally misguided, and appears to be shaped by political correctness and by election considerations more than it is by a serious effort to confront antisemites.

The United Nation's Antisemitism Action Plan

Following the lead of the EU and the United States, the United Nations has recently announced that it is working towards its own antisemitism action plan. The effort is led by Miguel Moratinos, who is the High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the "UN Focal Point to monitor antisemitism and enhance a system-wide response." It is noteworthy that Mr. Moratinos was appointed to the latter position in early 2020, and apparently has done very little in the past 3.5 years. In addition, the UN action plan's launch event was originally scheduled to take place in Spain in early July, but it was postponed until September 2023.[14] These facts alone indicate the lack of seriousness with regard to the issue.

In Summary

What characterizes the Western strategies for combatting antisemitism is that they attempt to manage antisemitism instead of fighting antisemites. This approach has the unfortunate effect of distracting people from the real problem, of inadvertently covering up the activities of neo-Nazis and antisemites, and of thereby enabling these activities to continue without being appropriately addressed by the authorities.

An Effective Action Plan

This section will address the most practical actions that can be taken in order to confront violent antisemitism. In contrast to the strategies mentioned above, it will focus on ways to directly confront the groups and individuals behind violent antisemitism. This approach is rooted in the fact that just like you cannot fight terrorism without fighting terrorists, you cannot fight antisemitism without fighting antisemites and their enablers.

First, it must be understood that in light of antisemitism being a millennial phenomenon, it is unreasonable to expect its complete eradication. At best, any action taken will contain it.

An effective strategy for combatting antisemitism would consist of the following elements, in order of importance:

  1. Repealing Section 230(c)(1) of the 1996 U.S. Communications Decency Act (CDA)

  2. Support for law enforcement agencies

  3. New legislation

  4. Political delegitimization

  5. Pluralistic education

Repealing Section 230(c)(1) of the 1996 U.S. Communications Decency Act (CDA)

Section 230(c)(1) of the U.S. Communications Decency Act must be repealed. Section 230 gives immunity to social media companies that is not enjoyed by any other media outlet, and this enables illegal activities, including incitement to violence, to reach millions of people and take place on social media with no government regulation.

Prominent American neo-Nazi James Mason alongside members of the Atomwaffen Division, an American neo-Nazi organization.

In this context, it is interesting to note what prominent American neo-Nazi James Mason has said on the subject: "The Internet is the greatest thing […] to ever come along. […] In the 60s and 70s, [we would] open a headquarters somewhere in town[,] establish a White-Power message [and] wait for them to come to use, which they never did. [Today,] there is no comparison. It's astronomical, the people we're reaching now, the quality we're reaching them with, and at no risk to ourselves, and at essentially no cost – it's fabulous!"[15]

There are two main reasons, neither of which are valid, that social media companies were granted this immunity.

The first reason was to defend the infant Internet communications industry by granting it liability protection. Such protections are usually provided to new business or industries for a period of 5-7 years. However, this cannot be justified for the social media giants of today, over 25 years after the CDA was legislated. The industry simply no longer qualifies as an infant industry. For instance, Meta's newest initiative, Threads, attracted 100 million users in its first week.

The second reason was the concern that regulation of the Internet communications industry might constitute a violation of free speech. HowHoweWere this a valid concern, then traditional media outlets – print, television, radio – would enjoy similar immunity. Yet these platforms are legally liable for the content they publish, without this being considered a violation of free speech.

It seems that those who make the free speech argument do not know what kind of dangerous content is actually being propagated on social media, and they believe that the ideas exchanged on social media platforms are only a matter of aggressive political debate. They do not know that the content in question is criminal and illegal, such as recruitment, fundraising, and the sharing of manuals on how to carry out attacks by ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and neo-Nazi organizations. (Notably, Instagram and Facebook have been found to be hosting groups and accounts that are openly devoted to the commission and purchase of underage sex content.[16] It should also be noted that in the past, some social media platforms would have advertisements attached to jihad- and terrorism-related content.[17])

There is a clear difference between political discourse, as aggressive as it may be, and the incitement to violence propagated by neo-Nazi groups and terrorist organizations like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, which openly have the intent to kill people.[18]

It should be mentioned that there is a clear precedent for holding carriers of incitement responsible for the results of that incitement. In the mid-1990s, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sentenced Ferdinand Nahimana, cofounder of the Rwandan radio station Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines, to 30 years in prison for spreading incitement that contributed to the Rwanda genocide. This example stresses that carriers of incitement can indeed be held accountable for the consequences of that incitement. This principle was in fact established after WWII, in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1948, which criminalizes not just the act of genocide but also "direct and public incitement to commit genocide."[19]

In the U.S., too, a district court ruled in 2006 that the First Amendment does not protect the right to disseminate information meant to result in violence. This ruling came in the case of radical animal rights and environmental activist Rodney Adam Coronado, who taught others how to build bombs. "The First Amendment does not provide a defense to a criminal charge simply because the actor uses words [rather than actions] to carry out his illegal purpose," the court stated.[20]

Recently, Amazon, Google, Meta, Microsoft and other companies that are leading the development of artificial intelligence technology have agreed to meet a set of AI safeguards laid out by the U.S. administration.[21] If such regulation is possible with regard to AI, it should also be possible with regard to social media.

Repealing Section 230 is vital. By making Internet communications companies liable for the content on their platforms, the amount of inciting and violent content – and not only by antisemites – will rapidly and drastically decrease.[22]

Who Should Do the Regulating?

Profiteering social media companies make a fortune from their platforms being unrestricted,[23] and even though they offer internal regulations of the content visible on them, this has proven ineffective.

The comprehensiveness of the regulation depends on the resources that the companies are willing to invest in it, and this results in a huge discrepancy between the sheer mass of online communications (billions of daily communications) and the amount of regulation.

In addition, since incitement is a criminal act, it is the democratically-elected governments that must regulate these matters (and prosecute where necessary), rather than it being done voluntarily by mega-corporations that have an economic interest in having as much traffic as possible – this is like leaving the cat to guard the cream.

In one example, the internet infrastructure company Cloudflare, which hosts neo-Nazi and terrorist content, openly states that it seeks to remain neutral and not police the websites that it protects, asserting that it "abides by all applicable [emphasis added] laws."[24] Ironically, Cloudflare is also used by several U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.

In a 2017 Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg implied that his network's ultimate goal is to let users decide what content they will be spared from seeing, instead of categorically removing certain types of content. "The idea," he wrote, "is to give everyone in the community options for how they would like to set the content policy for themselves. Where is your line on nudity? On violence? On graphic content? On profanity? What you decide will be your personal settings."[25]

Many fields and industries are regulated in order to protect the public, and there are entire agencies dedicated to this, such as the FDA, TSA, pharmaceutical regulators, and more. Why should social media remain an exception? In addition, unlike in these industries, there is also no public committee that can gain access to the internal regulations of social media and internet communications companies – there is no public oversight or involvement whatsoever, and this endangers public safety.

Leaving social media communications and social media platforms unregulated is similar to not regulating nuclear energy, which similarly brings many benefits to society despite its dangers.

Supporting Law Enforcement Agencies By Providing Them With Information

The most effective way to confront violent antisemitism is by means of government authorities and law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement agencies need information on any group or individual that endangers public safety. However, these agencies are generally overwhelmed and overtasked, and cannot sufficiently tackle the issue of neo-Nazis and antisemites. Hence, it is vital that these agencies be supported by professional organizations that will assist in providing intelligence and actionable information that can be used in legal procedures.[26]

Legislative Solutions

As shocking as it may sound, even after World War II and the September 11 attacks, no country in the West has any specific legislation explicitly outlawing neo-Nazi groups, antisemitic organizations, or terrorist groups (designating a group as a terrorist organization or banning entry into Western countries for these groups' members does not constitute outlawing the groups themselves).[27] Rather, any legal measures taken against these groups fall under broader criminal legislation, and they are held to the same standard as regular criminal activity.

Germany and France have specific legislation banning the use of Nazi symbols, such as the swastika and other imagery, but not the groups themselves. It appears that this legislation was enacted because this imagery is too embarrassing for the government and people.[28]

In order to effectively combat antisemites, there must be specific legislation addressing these groups. Unfortunately, it appears that Western parliaments and legislators do not and will not have the will to pass such legislation.[29] Without this, none of the strategies mentioned in this document can be implemented.

Importantly, specific legislation is particularly important in this case because it serves as a moral statement against extremist organizations, even when practical measures against these groups are delayed or complex.

Political Delegitimization of Neo-Nazi and Antisemitic Groups

A massive delegitimization campaign against antisemitic groups and individuals is vital in combating antisemites. The campaign must expose their views, their sources of funding, and their political ties. It must also focus on the fact that antisemitism is not a Jewish problem alone. Rather, it begins with the Jews, but over time transforms into violence against other political, ethnic, and religious groups.

Such a campaign is first and foremost the responsibility of democratic governments, as well as of the media, civil society organizations, and the intellectual elite throughout the West. The delegitimization of antisemitic groups must be a matter of daily discussion.

Pluralistic Education

A distinction must be made between the short term and the long term when it comes to pluralistic education. In the long-term, after hundreds of years of education, perhaps there will be an ideal pluralistic world in which antisemitism does not exist. However, in the short term, it must be understood that pluralistic education does not solve the problem of violent antisemitism. To the contrary, it exacerbates the situation, because today's pluralism legitimizes groups that blame the Jews for their predicaments.

*Yigal Carmon is President of MEMRI.


[1] Indeed, in the 1960s the Catholic Church declared that the Jews were not guilty of Jesus' death. Although, this conception has not disappeared from public consciousness, as evidenced by the 2004 film "The Passion of the Christ", which was popular in the United States.

[2] It is noteworthy that many European languages even have expressions that identify Judaism and Jews with negative traits and characteristics.

[3] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1689, The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion In The Arab And Muslim World, April 21, 2023.

[4] One prominent example of this can be found in the BDS movement. In this context, many Israelis and Jews in the diaspora mistakenly believe that antisemitism today is indeed a consequence of events surrounding Israel. Despite the fact that Israel's efforts to defend itself is a catalyst to antisemitism against Jews in the diaspora, it is nonetheless important for Israel to emphasize that it has no partner for the peace process, and that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wears a key on his lapel to symbolize the elimination of the State of Israel.

[5] It is interesting to note that Earnest is a man of culture – he has been playing the piano since he was four years old, and his favorite piece is Chopin's Scherzo No. 2 for piano.

[6] Notably, some of these envoys and commissioners are included in the Wiesenthal Center's 2021 Top Ten report, including the antisemitism commissioner from the state of Baden-Württemberg Michael Blume and the commissioner from Schleswig-Holstein, Gerhard Ulrich. See See also:, and

[7], October 2021.

[8], May 22, 2023.

[9], June 21, 2023.


[11], February 17, 2017.

[12], April 4, 2013.

[13], May 25, 2023.

[14], July 6, 2023.

[15] James Mason Q&A, Telegram, April 20, 2022.

[16], June 7, 2023.

[18] In a 2007 briefing on the subject with MEMRI, U.S. Representative (D) openly referred to internet and social media platforms as supporters of terrorism. See MEMRI Daily Brief No. 126, An Internet Clean Of Jihadi Incitement – Not Mission Impossible, May 1, 2017.

[19] Article III(c). For the full text of the convention, see

[20] U.S. v. Coronado, S.D. Cal, 2006.

[21], July 21, 2023.

[22] Indeed, Section 230 is an American law, but since the largest social media companies in the world are American, repealing this section would have a disproportionate effect across the entire Internet.

[23] This is not just about the profits of the social media companies that profit from their platforms being unrestricted. For instance, in Europe, decisions about such critical matters must be made unanimously, and it is known that in the case of Ireland, which a bit part of its economy is built on social media, will oppose this (of course there are ways to compensate Ireland for lost business and jobs, and this would the right thing to do), but right now, it is accepted that one country that is economically involved in social media has the power to enable this difficult reality to continue.

[24] MEMRI JTTM report "Cloudflare, The U.S.-Based Leading Reverse-Proxy Service, Is Exploited By Every Major Jihadi Organization– Including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Taliban – Posing A Global Security Risk," December 21, 2018.

[25], February 16, 2017.

[26] For several years, MEMRI has been performing this function and acting as an auxiliary arm for law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world on a limited scale, and we aim to do this on a large scale.

[27] Even terrorist groups that carry out shooting attacks on Jewish synagogues on European soil, such as Iran's IRGC.

[28] Indeed, the use of Nazi symbols is embarrassing for other European governments that do not have legislation banning these symbols. For instance, this year, a Finnish minister resigned after it was discovered that he had posted images of swastikas on one of his social media accounts.

[29] In the example of the PATRIOT Act, law enforcement agencies were granted greater investigative authorities and tools than they previously had, yet Al-Qaeda itself was not banned as an organization.

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