Published On: Sun, Jan 22nd, 2017

New System to Identify Anti-Semitism on the Web

In a report delivered to the government on anti-Semitism around the world, the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs highlighted spikes in anti-Semitic activity on the internet and in Europe, particularly Germany.

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The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs presented the cabinet on Sunday with a new system for monitoring anti-Semitism on the internet along with its annual report on anti-Semitism worldwide.

According to a new report released by the ministry, 2016 saw a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, due in part to the refugee crisis and the improvement in the quality of reporting.

Federal police figures show that between January and September 2016, 461 anti-Semitic incidents were reported. That represents an increase of 200 percent compared to 2015, with the majority of incidents related to the strengthening of far-right extremist movements.

In addition, the report shows that anti-Semitic discourse in Britain has reached worrying levels and entered politics. Fifty members of the Labour Party have been suspended in the last few years for anti-Semitic and racist comments. This includes rank-and-file members and senior officials, such as the former Mayor of London and MP Ken Livingstone, who said “Hitler supported Zionism.”

The report pointed to the rewriting of history in Eastern Europe, where local authorities are not acting to curb anti-Semitism in their countries. Poland’s Minister of Education, Anna Zalewska, said in an interview last July that historically documented Polish massacres of Jews during the Holocaust were “biased opinions.”

However, a positive trend was noted in France, which posted a 65 percent decrease in anti-Semitic incidents and a strengthening of the sense of security in Jewish communities. This is largely due to concerted efforts by the French government to “combat racism and anti-Semitism.” However, the report also notes that recent trends of radicalization among both the left and right wing have produced hostile feelings toward Jewish communities.

A large portion of the report dealt with anti-Semitic incitement in the Palestinian Authority. According to the report, the PA is systematically using religious anti-Semitic narratives to foster hatred of Jews and Israelis among Palestinians.

One of the statements highlighted by the report was from a speech PA President Mahmoud Abbas gave at the EU Parliament in June, in which he said “Israeli rabbis demanded that the government poison Palestinian water supplies to kill Palestinians and force them to emigrate.”

The report also touched on anti-Semitism on college campuses in the United States, where there is a hostile attitude toward Israel and Jews. Activities of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) resulted in a 45 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campuses in the last year. Students and Jewish faculty members were exposed to anti-Semitic harassment, abuse, discrimination, graffiti, swastikas and verbal as well as physical attacks.

 

Anti-Semitic tweets during the inauguration

The new system

The new system for identifying anti-Semitism on the internet in real time was developed by a company managed and staffed with former members of military technology units and veterans of the IDF Military Intelligence’s Unit 8200. The system displays anti-Semitic discourse on social media networks on an interactive map.

The system is capable of detailing how many anti-Semitic posts and messages are currently being circulated and what countries and areas contain the highest volume of anti-Semitic traffic. So far, the system conducted a successful pilot demonstration and identified over 500 thousand anti-Semitic posts, which reached more than 40 million people.

The system is based on artificial intelligence that is capable of analyzing texts and provides significant information on the posts and users who upload them, all according to the definition of anti-Semitism determined by the government.

Anti-Semitism and incitement on the internet has increased exponentially and reaches tens of millions of people all over the world. With the help of this technology, companies will be able to operate responsibly and identify and remove racist content in real time.

The system will also serve as a diplomatic tool for government officials and Israeli envoys all over the world, who can use the data to shed light on the situation and extent of anti-Semitism in different countries.

Additionally, research institutes and government ministries will be able to characterize and classify anti-Semitism throughout the world in order to design policy and help combat the phenomenon.

Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Naftali Bennett, said, “I see the uncompromising struggle against anti-Semitism as a goal of paramount importance. The State of Israel has a new tool and one of a kind technology that will bring visibility to the data and the treatment of anti-Semitic incitement. We must expose and turn the spotlight on sources of inciting anti-Semitism. This is an integral part of the mutual responsibility between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.”

By Ynet News

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