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Facebook COO affirms social media giant’s belief that Holocaust denial is hate, in remarks to global Jewish leaders

09 Dec 2020

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg praises partnership with World Jewish Congress that led company to address antisemitism and ban Holocaust denial and distortion from its platforms 

At Governing Board meeting, UAE Jewish community joins World Jewish Congress 

NEW YORK – At a gathering of Jewish community leaders of the World Jewish Congress' more than 100 representative communities around the world, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg discussed the company’s achievements and challenges in reducing the presence of hate speech, including antisemitism and Holocaust denial, on its platforms. In speaking to the World Jewish Congress' Governing Board, she lauded the cooperation with and support of the WJC as a valuable partner in shaping relavant policies and monitoring information on the platforms. 

“Our partnership with the World Jewish Congress has been a strong partnership. We’ve worked really closely together on proactive counterspeech campaigns like #WeRemember. We’ve had hard conversations about antisemitism and hate speech, and we’re grateful for the openness and support you’ve given us as we tackled these hard issues. One of the best examples was the decision we made recently to ban Holocaust denial and Holocaust distortion as hate speech. It was the right decision because of the rise in antisemitism and the percentage of young people who don’t believe the Holocaust happened – which we were aghast to learn. We want to contribute to the education that’s necessary to stop this kind of hate in the first place.”

She went on to say, “We don’t want people to get misinformation, and we don’t want people to ever see hate – full stop. The question is how do we define it and how do we find it?” She explained that artificial intelligence and computers are allowing Facebook to more quickly identify Holocaust denial, leading to its removal. 

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder told the group, “Facebook announced it will be removing Holocaust denial from its platforms. This was a major, major, step. I know that Sheryl played a big role in this, and we thank her for her efforts. Facebook has taken very positive action in facing Holocaust denial and hate speech. The major fight we have today is fighting antisemitism. It’s a battle that can’t be won, but we can have a major impact on it.” He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has served as an excuse for people to advance antisemitic conspiracy myths. In sharing his goals for the coming year, he focused on advancing Jewish unity across Israel and the diaspora, as well as facilitating Jewish education for all Jewish children. 

In other significant actions taken during the WJC’s meeting, Governing Board members voted to admit to membership of the WJC the Jewish Council of the Emirates (JCE) as the representative body of the Jewish community of the United Arab Emirates. This move welcomes the JCE as part of the WJC's global network of more than 100 Jewish communities that work together to protect and celebrate their Jewish religion, culture and heritage. The JCE joins other countries in the Middle East and North Africa which are affiliated with the WJC, including Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. 

In response, Ross Kriel, Jewish Council of the Emirates President, shared, “In seeking to affiliate with the World Jewish Congress, the Jewish Council of the Emirates signals to communities throughout the Jewish world that our nascent community has come of age, that in the spirit of the UAE our progress will reflect confidence, optimism and determination in building our community, reanimating Jewish-Muslim affairs and continuing to serve as a Jewish “embassy” in the heart of the Arabic world. Grand as this aspiration may be, we hope to take a place among the other affiliated communities of the WJC with humility and deep gratitude to Jewish leaders and communities represented in this esteemed forum and steely resolve to embark on the work that lies ahead.” 

About the World Jewish Congress

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.
Media contact
Samantha Kupferman
West End Strategy Team
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