Press Release

ADL Poll: Record Numbers of Israeli Youth Experience Anti-Semitism on Social Media and Online

Jerusalem, February 24, 2016 … Nearly four in every five teenagers living in the State of Israel have encountered anti-Semitism on social media and online, the highest level recorded in three years, according to a new survey of Israeli Jewish teens released today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The poll of 500 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18, conducted in Hebrew by the Israeli polling company Geocartography, found that record numbers of Israeli youths are being exposed to hatred online.  An overwhelming majority – 84 percent -- of Israeli teens reports witnessing overtly anti-Semitic content online in 2015. And among those, 16 percent said the content was personally directed at them. In 2013, 69 percent of youths reported encounters with anti-Semitic content online, and 13 percent said the content had been personally directed at them.

Most respondents said they came across anti-Semitic content at least once a month and sometimes weekly or even daily.

“As a highly developed and technologically savvy society in a volatile neighborhood, it is perhaps not surprising that Israeli youths more than ever before are being exposed to anti-Semitic hate on social media,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO.  “It serves as a powerful reminder of the power of social networks and their ability to be used, and abused by those who seek to poison the internet with hatred of Jews.”

The survey, commissioned by ADL’s Israel Office, began by showing respondents a definition of anti-Semitism and asked whether youths had encountered such anti-Jewish expression online, either directed at them or in general. Among those Israeli teens who reported encountering anti-Semitism, poll respondents indicated they witnessed it in various forms:

  • Ninety-four percent (94%) reported seeing anti-Semitic content in posts on Facebook, talkbacks, and Twitter.
  • Ninety-two percent (92%) indicated they had seen anti-Semitic caricatures, pictures or symbols.
  • Eighty-nine percent (89%) of respondents said they had encountered anti-Semitic pages on social networks.
  • Eighty-eight percent of respondents said that they had seen anti-Semitic video clips or songs.
  • Seventy-three percent of respondents said they had run across anti-Semitic websites.

The survey also asked about anti-Semitic content teens encountered on popular social networks.  Among those polled, youths indicated they had seen anti-Semitism on Facebook (76 percent); YouTube (47 percent); Instagram (39 percent); Twitter (31 percent) and WhatsApp (18 percent). The poll did not ask about the specific nature of the anti-Semitic content.

Nearly 40 percent of those who encountered anti-Semitism said they had taken no action to report or counter it directly, compared with 33 percent in 2013.

A similarly high number of youths reported seeing anti-Israel content online.  Among those polled, 82 percent said they had seen anti-Israel messages or content in posts, tweets and pages on social networks.  Most of the young people reported being exposed to anti-Israel content at least once a month.

“Israeli youths, who spend hours on the Internet and on social networks, are clearly more likely than most to have a heightened awareness of anti-Semitic content,” said Carol Nuriel, Acting Director of ADL’s Israel Office.  “Unfortunately, we have reached a saturation point for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic invective on social networks, and young people in Israel are seeing it more and more in their daily lives.  Some clearly feel powerless to confront it.  We need to equip students and young people to have the tools to respond to anti-Semitism appropriately and effectively.”

Since publishing its first report on cyberhate in 1985, ADL has been an international leader in tracking, exposing, and responding to hate on the Internet. It advises all the major social media platforms and law enforcement. ADL’s team of experts – analysts, investigators, researchers, and linguists – use cutting-edge technology to monitor, track, and disrupt extremists and terrorists worldwide.

ADL was one of the first groups to detail terrorists’ use of Twitter for recruiting. It coordinates closely with U.S. law enforcement, warning it about online hate activities and trends in real time to stop their spread and prevent harm to communities.

The League’s leadership on cyberhate also guides the best known internet companies. ADL created best practices to counter online hate that have become a template for responsibility and centerpiece of coordination between the industry and community. They were created in consultation with Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo and YouTube and others who have approved the document and put the standards to use. ADL has worked closely with these platforms and Apple to remove hate without infringing on the freedom of speech.