Israeli Torah Study Zoombombed With Nazi Imagery, Chants of ‘Free Palestine’

May 28, 2020
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 18: People pass walk by the Nasdaq building as the screen shows the logo of the video-conferencing software company Zoom after the opening bell ceremony on April 18, 2019 in New York City. The video-conferencing software company announced it’s IPO priced at $36 per share, at an estimated value of $9.2 billion. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

An Israeli organization’s online Torah study was Zoombombed on the evening of May 27 with Nazi imagery and chants of “free Palestine.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Jerusalem-based Steinsaltz Center was holding its Shavuot study session on Zoom when eight people disrupted the call. The Zoombombers shouted “free Palestine” and “f—ing Jews,” among other cuss words and anti-Semitic slurs.

Additionally, one of the Zoombombers shared an image of a “Jaws” poster that was modified to read “Jews” with Adolf Hitler as a shark right below it. The Zoombombers also had swastikas in their profile picture. The Zoombombers were booted from the call within a couple of minutes.

Rabbi Meni Steinsaltz told the Post that the Steinsaltz Center reported the incident to Zoom and to law enforcement.

Liora Rez, director of the Stop Anti-Semitism watchdog, said in a statement to the Journal, “The fact that someone can spread such vile hate during a religious virtual study session on the eve of a sacred holiday shows just how serious of a problem ‘Zoombombing’ has become.”

The term “Zoombombing” is used to describe instances in which calls on video conferencing platforms are disrupted, often with anti-Semitic and racial slurs and sometimes with explicit images. Notable instances of Zoombombing include Oklahoma State University’s May 9 graduation ceremony being Zoombombed with swastika imagery and the N-word as well as two Holocaust Remembrance Day events in April being Zoombombed with Nazi imagery and anti-Semitic slurs.

American Jewish Committee Director for Combating Anti-Semitism Holly Huffnagle told the Journal in a May 11 story that only a handful of people are perpetuating Zoombombing but it is “affecting multiple Jewish student meetings; they’re affecting board meetings where there’s Jewish chairs, so this has been a huge problem.”

The Anti-Defamation League has outlined a series of steps for Zoom hosts to take to prevent Zoombombing from happening and how to properly respond to Zoombombing if it occurs.

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