The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR) and the World Jewish Congress hosted the second forum on Monday bringing together Jewish leaders from ten OSCE participating States and representatives from Meta, TikTok, and Twitter to outline the experience of these Jewish communities with online antisemitism. Contributing to the Second Regional Consultation between Jewish Communities and Tech and Social Media Companies on Combating Anti-Semitism Online forum was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Dr. Ahmed Shaheed.
Christie Edwards, Deputy Head, Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in her welcoming remarks said “the demands of the new digital worlds that we now inhabit require us to be absolutely relentless in our pursuit of monitoring trends and finding innovative solutions to the challenges that exist…if we want to halt the rapid spread of anti-semitism, Holocaust denial and distortion, conspiracy theories and age-old disinformation about Jews as well as to address the harm that these phenomena cause not only to Jewish individuals and communities but to entire societies across the OSCE region, we have to communicate frequently, collaborate effectively and work quickly to come up with creative and timely solutions”
Yfat Barak-Cheney, WJC’s Director of International Affairs and Human Rights, expressed solidarity with the Texas Jewish community following the events at the Colleyville synagogue and noted that this is a stark reminder that while the internet platforms and social media are used to spread hate and antisemitism widely, this hate is not “online”, but lives offline, in real people with real consequences and while there have been great improvements, there are still policy gaps that need to be filled, and there are still implementation and enforcement issues that we face.
Monday’s closed forum was attended by Jewish leaders from Armenia, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Sweden. The communities spoke of their challenges with manifestations of antisemitism online and the need for closer and better cooperation with the tech and media companies to ensure that antisemitic hate speech across all communities and languages is dealt with, taking into account local events and circumstances.
The tech companies presented changes and improvements they have made in the past 6 months as well as future innovations that will assist in combating hate speech on their platforms.
The WJC has worked closely with social media companies to tighten policy guidelines, combat the rampant spread of online antisemitism, and assess the efficacy of existing tools to address harm caused and identify identified gaps and opportunities for future improvement.