Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22)
On Tuesday, November 10, the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism held its first virtual briefing with community organizations from the United States, Canada, and Australia. The briefing covered the state of online antisemitism, how community groups are responding, and provided recommendations for what actions legislators should take to address the issue. It will be followed by a subsequent briefing with community organizations from Israel and the UK at the end of November.
The event included presentations from the American Jewish Committee (Holly R. Huffnagle, US Director for Combatting Antisemitism) the Simon Wiesenthal Center (Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Director Global Social Action Agenda), the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (Richard Marceau, VP of External Affairs and General Counsel), B’nai Brith Canada (Michael Mostyn, CEO), Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (Jamie Kirzner-Roberts, Policy Director), Executive Council of Australian Jewry (Alex Ryvchin, Co-CEO), Community Security Group (Justin Kagan, CEO), and Online Hate Prevention Institute (Dr. Andre Oboler, CEO).
The organizations encouraged social media platforms to adopt a standard of what antisemitism is; called for reforming Section 230 in the United States; demanded accountability of the platforms and personal accountability of their local executives; and highlighted the need to address antisemitism in encrypted networks and alt-tech social networking platforms.
Launched in September 2020, the Task Force is focused on increasing awareness of and developing responses to growing online antisemitism. It is comprised of bipartisan legislators and parliamentarians from Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Rep. Ted Deutch (US, Democratic): “The strength of this historic task force comes from our geographic and political diversity. Together, we will build a global coalition to bring awareness to and combat the spread of antisemitism online.”
MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh (Israel, Blue and White): “It is very moving to see this initiative come to fruition, of bipartisan elected officials from around the world coming together to combat online antisemitism. It speaks to the tremendous urgency and imperative that we collaborate to address the issue, and ensure that the prospective promise of ‘Never Again’ is fulfilled.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (US, Democratic): “We are living though a time when hate of all kinds is rapidly increasing, especially over the Internet. While online platforms have fostered global connections and reshaped society, they can also be a magnifier of and a catalyst for antisemitism, racism, misogyny, and other forms of hate and discrimination. Amid this global pandemic, when more people are online, the urgency to act is even greater. We must expose online antisemitism and racism that goes unaddressed or inadequately addressed on social media platforms, especially as disinformation continues to rise.”
Rep. Chris Smith (US, Republican): “Online anti-Semitism transcends national boundaries and can reach homes exponentially in communities around the world. It is a global threat, requiring consistent and coordinated global attention. This Task Force allows us to share best practices in combatting online anti-Semitism. Together we shall prevail.”
Rep. Diaz-Balart (US, Republican): “I was honored to join with so many colleagues and renowned organizations from around the world in uniting against online antisemitism. We are committed to working together to fight this insidious hatred, and to ensure a safer, brighter future for generations to come.”
MP Anthony Housefather (Canada, Liberal): “Antisemitism transcends both national borders and political movements. The Inter-Parliamentary Task Force met on the eve of Veteran’s Day/Remembrance Day. As we remember those who serve and those who bravely fought for us, we remember the deep alliance between the countries represented on the task force. We continue the alliance by joining together to combat a pernicious form of hatred.”
MP Marty Morantz (Canada, Conservative): “Antisemitism is an ancient and ubiquitous hate so we must be relentless in combatting it in all its manifestations, including online. That’s what this task force is all about.”
MP Randall Garrison (Canada, NDP): “There could not be a more important time for the creation of the inter-parliamentary task force to combat online antisemitism. We have seen this age-old scourge rear its ugly head during the pandemic both at home and abroad and this initiative sends a clear message to those peddling hate that they will not do so with impunity.”
MP Andrew Percy (UK, Conservative): “Our taskforce’s recent briefing event has highlighted the importance of colleagues working together across the globe to tackle the worrying rise of antisemitism. This is a global problem involving online platforms which have no national or geographic boundaries and that is why it is so important that legislators across the world work together to identify solutions.
Former MP Michael Levitt: “There could not be a more important time for the creation of the inter-parliamentary task force to combat online antisemitism. We have seen this age-old scourge rear its ugly head during the pandemic both at home and abroad and this initiative sends a clear message to those peddling hate that they will not do so with impunity.”
MP Josh Burns (Australia, Labor): “The fight to eradicate online antisemitism and extremism is a mammoth task, so it was a valuable first step for our Inter-Parliamentary Taskforce to hear from global experts in the field, including from Australia’s ECAJ, OHPI and CSG. We have much to achieve but a strong group of Parliamentarians across international and party lines who are determined to achieve meaningful results to end online antisemitism.”
Members of the Task Force include: Congressman Ted Deutch (Democrat, United States), Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Democrat, United States), Congressman Chris Smith (Republican, United States), Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (Republican, United States), Member of Knesset Michal Cotler-Wunsh (Blue and White, Israel), Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather (Liberal, Canada), Member of Parliament Marty Morantz (Conservative, Canada), Member of Parliament Randall Garrison (NDP, Canada), Member of Parliament Josh Burns (Labour, Australia), Member of Parliament Dave Sharma (Liberal, Australia), Member of Parliament Andrew Percy (Conservative, United Kingdom), and Member of Parliament Alex Sobel (Labour and Cooperative, United Kingdom), and former Member of Parliament Michael Levitt (Liberal, Canada).