The advantages of the internet are more than obvious: unlimited access to information, the possibility of worldwide networking, anonymity, and much more. Unfortunately, also some disadvantages and risks crystallized over the last couple of years. Conspiracy theories, fake news, and hatred are spreading rapidly on social media. It is not surprising that anti-Semitic statements are also becoming increasingly widespread online.
Most recently in the course of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the role of the Internet in spreading anti-Semitic ideas became even more clear. Moreover, a report published by the University of Tel Aviv shows that anti-Semitic crimes and anti-Semitic hate messages were increasingly relocated online during the corona pandemic.
Against this backdrop, ELNET-Germany launched the project “Words Matter – Countering Anti-Semitism on the Internet”. In a series of workshops in eight German cities, ELNET brings together politically active young adults to develop strategies in order to actively counter hate against Jews online.
The workshops are carried out in cooperation with the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. Their aim is to sensitize the participants to anti-Semitic codes and hate speech and to educate them about the differences between legal and criminal statements. Another focus will be placed on anti-Semitism related to Israel, which has become increasingly apparent in Europe over the past few years. Following the workshops, panel debates will be held in the respective partner cities with the participation of regional politicians, during which the results of the workshops will be presented.
The project is part of the anniversary year “1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany” and is funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community. With the project, ELNET aims to set a positive signal for change and contribute to the fact that Jews in Germany can live free from fear of hatred and violence in the future.