Press Release

ADL Outraged at Thousands of Anti-Semitic Tweets in Spain

New York, NY, May 22, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the outpouring of anti-Semitic messages on Twitter in Spain, following the victory of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team over Real Madrid in the Euroleague championship. Over 17,500 tweets were posted with the hashtag “#putosjudios” (“f---ingJews”), including calls for Jews to be sent to gas chambers and praise for Adolf Hitler.

Several Jewish organizations in Barcelona, joined by Catalan-Israel friendship associations and anti-racism organizations, filed a criminal complaint against five individuals for incitement to hatred, defamation, and glorification of terrorism.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

The sheer number and intensity of anti-Semitic hatred unleashed via Twitter in Spain is alarming and outrageous. That a blatantly anti-Semitic hashtag became a ‘trending topic’ in Spain because of the result of a basketball game is yet another example of the power of social media to instantaneously propel hate-filled bigotry not just around the block, but around the globe.

It is critically important for government officials, civic and religious leaders to forcefully and publicly condemn this outpouring of anti-Jewish hate which flowed through Twitter’s vast social network platform.

While our recent global poll on anti-Semitic attitudes found 29 percent of respondents in Spain harboring anti-Semitic attitudes, we know most of those people may not be likely to engage in openly hostile behavior toward Jews. The ease of access to the expressions of others who are willing to say and do hateful things through popular platforms like Twitter and other social media sites can, however, reinforce those attitudes and loosen inhibitions to express them.

ADL noted the reaction of Spain’s Interior Minister, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, who said: “I am glad that there are such complaints, because they will allow the Police and the Civil Guard to clean up the web,” and also welcomed the condemnation by the Euroleague.

In 2012, a similar incident occurred in France, where the #unbonjuif ("a good jew") hashtag prompted an outpouring of anti-Semitic tweets and became a “trending topic” on Twitter.  ADL then called on Twitter to establish clear standards to block or remove racist, hate-filled tweets and re-tweets, rather than relying on a standard of “illegality” as the threshold for intervention.

ADL developed a platform in 2013 to help internet users better navigate the various mechanisms available for reporting online hate speech. Additionally, at the behest of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA), comprised of parliamentarians from around the world working to combat resurgent global anti-Semitism, ADL also convened an internet hate working group bringing together industry experts, academics and impacted communities to develop best practices for understanding, reporting upon and responding to Internet hate.