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More Than 120 Jewish and Pro-Israel Organizations Call on Facebook to Adopt IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism

"We cannot afford to lose any more time in fighting this bigotry and preventing violence.”
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August 10, 2020
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 03: A person holds an iPhone displaying the Facebook app logo in front of a computer screen showing the facebook login page on August 3, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

More than 120 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations signed an open letter Aug. 7 calling on Facebook to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of “anti-Semitism.”

The letter, posted on the Stop Anti-Semitism.org website, noted that Peter Stern, Facebook’s Director of Content Policy Engagement, admitted that Facebook doesn’t have a policy addressing anti-Semitism and that the social media giant doesn’t use the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism because it states that certain criticisms of Israel are anti-Semitic.

“We the undersigned coalition of 128 organizations, urge Facebook to implement a hate speech policy on anti-Semitism that includes the full IHRA working definition at its core,” the letter stated. “Nearly 40 countries have already endorsed or adopted the IHRA working definition in some official capacity, either through their membership in the IHRA or independently. In the United States, in addition to the adoption by the State Department, the recent Executive Order on Combating anti-Semitism instructs the Department of Education to consider the IHRA definition when evaluating Title VI Civil Rights Act complaints of discrimination.”

The letter argued that modern anti-Semitism involves delegitimizing Israel’s right to exist, and subjecting Israel to double standards.

“Jews overwhelmingly report that online anti-Semitism is the most acute form of Jew-hatred they experience,” the letter stated. “The full IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism provides Facebook an effective, neutral, and nuanced tool to protect Jewish users from hate speech and imagery that incites hate and oftentimes leads to violence. While the impact of online hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation on our society continues to be researched and explored, we cannot afford to lose any more time in fighting this bigotry and preventing violence.”

Some of the organizations that signed the letter include the Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, and the Israeli-American Council.

Facebook did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has been engaged in a campaign called Stop Hate for Profit, in which the Jewish organization has urged companies to stop advertising with Facebook until the social media company better addresses hate speech on its platform. Facebook has claimed it already handles hate speech adequately, pointing to a June 2020 European Union study showing that Facebook was looked into 96% of hate speech notifications within 24 hours.

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