Remarks by Jonathan Greenblatt to the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism

Remarks (as prepared for delivery) by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt

Good evening and thank you for being a part of this important gathering of the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism.

I’m delighted to see so many friends in this room tonight. I want to particularly thank Task Force co-chairs U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Canadian Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather for organizing this critically important summit that challenges us to ask hard questions about the evolution and proliferation of online antisemitism.

I also want to recognize the many Jewish community partners who have joined us from around the world, and who play such a crucial role in ensuring thriving and safe Jewish communities worldwide.

For over a century, ADL has been a leading voice in fighting hate in all forms. Our organization has been a pioneer in the fight to address online hate, stretching back to the days of dial-up. 

Building on our decades of work, in 2017, ADL launched the Center for Technology and Society in Silicon Valley to put together a dedicated team of researchers, advocates, and engineers to lead our work in responding to the threat of online hate. We’ve created a culture of innovation and partnerships, bringing together experts in antisemitism and online hate. We’ve tapped into the Jewish community but also the broader universe to recruit the best talent – software engineers, user interface designers, data scientists and policy experts – to help us lead this fight.

My team advocates in defense of targets of online hate and harassment. We recognize that online antisemitism is complex and multifaceted, and engage closely not only with lawmakers like those in this room, but also with the tech platforms directly. We work with all the companies, Airbnb to Zoom, Apple to YouTube, Steam to Slack, collaborating with them to solve problems when we can but also calling them out, when necessary. I can give you many examples from Facebook or Fortnight, Twitter or TikTok. Whether we are doing it on our own or in coalitions like Stop Hate for Profit, we hold the companies accountable for their actions - and their deliberate inaction.

ADL data paints a disturbing picture of anti-Jewish racism in our nation - online and on the ground. ADL’s 2021 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in the United States recorded 2,717 acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment in 2021 alone, an average of more than seven incidents per day.  This represents a thirty-four percent increase from 2020 and the highest year of incidents on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.

ADL’s annual Online Hate and Harassment survey, recently published for 2022 in June, sheds light on how Americans–and especially Jews–experience hate and harassment on social media, including the types of harassment, its impact, and how and where they experience this harassment. More than a third of Jewish respondents, 37%, reported online harassment during their lifetime. More than a fifth (21%) of Jewish respondents reported online harassment in the past 12 months. 

Overall, ADL’s online hate work has highlighted platforms’ failure to adopt adequate content moderation policies, and where they exist, to enforce them at scale and equitably. This includes a lack of effective proactive interventions by social media companies to address online hate against Jews, and a failure to act when the content is reported.

In response to this rise in antisemitism and online hate, ADL crafted the COMBAT and REPAIR plans to help advise lawmakers, civil society organizations, and civilians seeking to meaningfully and proactively tackle the rising challenge of antisemitism and online hate. I’m happy to share more details, but these are comprehensive policy frameworks to tackle this persistent problem.

Let’s keep in mind that anti-Jewish hate is a pervasive problem. It comes from all directions.

  • There are challenges from right-wing extremists including white supremacists and accelerationists.
  • There are challenges from left-wing extremists particularly militant anti-Zionists and democratic socialists.
  • There are challenges from religious zealots like radical Jihadists and Christian Nationalists.
  • And then there is the every-day bigotry, whether it’s violence perpetrated against the Orthodox in New York City or anti-Jewish bullying at a middle school in Wisconsin, or Holocaust distortion by politicians who want to score partisan points.

And yet none of these issues are unique to any geography. They happen in Brooklyn and Brussels, Pittsburgh and Paris, Los Angeles and London. But it seems you know this based on the diversity of people from around the world joining us in this room. 

This global problem demands global solutions. It must be fought aggressively wherever it comes from, and it must be tackled together. This is why this meeting is so important, bringing together lawmakers from around the world to tackle this common scourge.

ADL, and all of our partners present, are committed to working with you and with each other to address online antisemitism. And ADL stands committed to standing by the Task Force and its tireless fight to address this world’s longest hatred.

Again, thank you for being here and for all that you do.