Confronting anti-Semitic hate speech
Sir, – I do not believe Sorcha Pollak and I have ever conversed. However, we both unexpectedly virtually met – listed with others on various lamp posts across Dublin on which the stickers or small placards appeared containing anti-Semitic content referenced in her well-written article (Weekend Review, October 24th). As someone who has for many years been targeted both on and offline by anti-Semitic hate speech and abuse I know its debilitating impact should not be underestimated.
Social media and contemporary trends have resulted in a global increase in anti-Semitic targeting and Jewish people of any prominence living in Ireland are easily targeted from both within and outside the State.
New Irish laws do have a role to play as do the major tech companies in properly policing their platforms. Adoption by the Irish government, media, universities, public institutions and organisations of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism would make a substantial contribution to addressing the growth of anti-Semitism.
The abuse to which Sorcha Pollak was subjected should not have occurred. I must respectfully disagree with her in one respect. The abuse she experienced occurred not because she is a female journalist but solely because of her Jewish heritage. If a male journalist, she would have been similarly targeted. Anti-Semitism is an equal opportunity virus contaminating people’s perspective and public discussion and does not gender discriminate.
Much can be done both in Ireland and globally to tackle overt anti-Semitism. It is the covert version of the virus, disguised as something different designed to pull others into its web, that creates greater complexity. I know from personal experience it can, on occasion, be more lethally dangerous and damaging as it is perpetrated by those who are emboldened by the knowledge they can act with impunity and can too easily result in the popularising of falsity. – Yours, etc,