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Antisemitism 2.0: Antisemitism on the internet has increased significantly

Tuesday, 31. July 2018

Press Release No. 146/153/2018

“Antisemitism as a cultural constant and collective emotional value in the digital age” – A long-term study

Presenting the results of the study: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Monika Schwarz-Friesel
Lupe

How does antisemitism manifest itself in the 21st century? What stereotypes are communicated? And what role do emotions play in the current expressions of hatred towards Jews?

These questions are explored by the long-term study on the articulation, perpetuation, spread and manifestation of antisemitism in the digital age funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of its empirical antisemitism research. The study is running from 2014 to 2018 and is headed by cognitive scientist Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Monika Schwarz-Friesel. She is also head of the Chair for General Linguistics at TU Berlin. In its analysis of over 300,000 texts, the research group focused particularly on social media and investigated the features of irrational affect logic, which significantly influence attitudinal and verbal antisemitism.

The corpus study is based on extensive data, as well as detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis, and it shows that antisemitism has increased considerably over the last ten years, in particular in online comments sections of quality media. Furthermore, a semantic radicalisation has taken place. In all key areas of communication on the internet, anti-Jewish ideas with a strong potential to mobilise emotions have spread.

Web 2.0 – primary multiplier

A long-term study “Antisemitism as a cultural constant and collective emotional value in the digital age”
Lupe

Internet communication is characterised by its speed, accessibility, global coverage and anonymity; the unfiltered and almost unchecked spread of anti-Jewish ideas has therefore reached unprecedented levels in purely quantitative terms. Given the major relevance of internet use and its role in managing information, forming opinions and building identities, Web 2.0 is a primary multiplier and perpetuator of antisemitism and is fostering and accelerating the acceptance and normalisation of anti-Jewish sentiment and behaviour across all areas of society. This is the conclusion of the research team. "Today, antisemitism in Germany is still an alarming phenomenon – and has been on the rise over the past few years," explains antisemitism researcher Monika Schwarz-Friesel.

Presenting the results of the study
Lupe

Judeophobic conspiracy fantasies have infiltrated everyday communication spaces across all forms of discourse: on Twitter and Facebook, in blogs, on research and advice portals, in YouTube videos, in online bookshops and fan forums, and even in the comments sections of online quality media. Particularly on Twitter and Facebook, posts calling for people to demonstrate against antisemitism are often infiltrated within a few hours by texts containing multiple anti-Jewish terms and defensive reactions. For example, 38 per cent of the Facebook comments related to the 2014 campaign #NiewiederJudenhass (literally "never again antisemitism") contained antisemitic terms, and 47 per cent of these coded classic stereotypes: "Just because Bild [newspaper] belongs to the Jews, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't hate these criminal Jews!!!!" (translation from German)

The omnipresence of Judeophobia is therefore an integral part of communications on Web 2.0, which has signficantly increased and intensified the sayability and visibility of expressions of antisemitism through multimodal coding in texts, images, films and songs.

Everyday antisemitism by users

Presenting the results of the study
Lupe

The study shows that the everyday communications processes of non-extremist everyday users of social media are responsible for the spread of antisemitism. Despite differences in political and ideological beliefs, expressions of hatred towards Jews by users display a high degree of uniformity and homogeneity in the coding of stereotypes and in their argumentation. This is a testament to the influence of the patterns of anti-Jewish conceptualisations embedded in the cultural and collective memory. The old phantasm of the "Eternal Jew" is dominant.

Even Muslim antisemitism is more influenced by classic stereotypes of antisemitism (53 per cent) than by conceptions of Israel as the "enemy" (35 per cent). It is striking that classic antisemitism is the overall primary conceptual and affective basis for modern antisemitism, with an average of over 54 per cent.

Anti-Jewish stereotypes from the Middle Ages and conceptions of race-based antisemitism act in symbiosis with Israel-related hatred of Jews, which at over 33 per cent is a predominant form and is communicated with a high potential to trigger emotional responses. The "Israelisation of anti-Jewish semantics" can be seen in contexts with no relation to the Middle East conflict or to Israel. At the same time, massive defensive and relativising strategies are an integral part of Judeophobic discourse, which can be explained by the influence of the post-Holocaust evaluation of antisemitism. "Israel-related hatred of Jews appears to be on the way to becoming a 'politically correct form of antisemitism', as it meets with the least opposition in civil society, politics and the judicial system. As this hatred is based on classic anti-Jewish stereotypes, there is an overall danger that antisemitism will continue to spread and be normalised," comments antisemitism researcher Monika Schwarz-Friesel.

Download the results of the study:
https://www.linguistik.tu-berlin.de/menue/antisemitismus_2_0/

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For further information, contact:

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Monika Schwarz-Friesel
TU Berlin
Chair for General Linguistics
Tel.: +49 (0)30/31423219

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