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Denying the “right” to Holocaust denial

Tags: Antisemitism, Holocaust, Education, Jewish Identity

Facebook is one of the most influential companies in our time. It’s existence has changed social interactions and the way information is disseminated throughout society and across the globe.

Recently the issue of free speech vs censorship on Facebook has come into the limelight due to the statements of the company’s founder and CEO declaring that Holocaust deniers will not be removed or censored.

The company is known for their “mission to desire to make the world more open and connected….To facilitate this goal, we also work hard to make our platform a safe and respectful place for sharing and connection.” As part of the implementation of this mission Facebook has published a very detailed explanation of their community standards, including types of speech that are not allowed on their platform:

“We do not allow hate speech on Facebook because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion and in some cases may promote real-world violence. We define hate speech as a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disability or disease. We also provide some protections for immigration status. We define attack as violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation.”  Read more here

We are left to wonder, how is it possible to not view the denial of the Holocaust, the attempt to exterminate the Jewish People, the Nation of Israel, based on nothing but their religious and enthno-tribal affiliation, as hate speech? Furthermore, when it is known that incitement against Jews and Israelis in particular has led to terrorists murdering Jews, how can Facebook let this most basic of incitements stand?

If nothing else, what about the company’s statements about: Reducing the spread of false news on Facebook is a responsibility that we take seriously. We also recognize that this is a challenging and sensitive issue. We want to help people stay informed without stifling productive public discourse”?

5 FACTS ABOUT THIS STORY YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  1. Zuckerberg said Facebook would not take down hate speech denying the Holocaust because it 'prioritizes allowing people to express themselves, even if they get things wrong'
  2. Facebook has been promoting Holocaust denial groups at the top of its search results. No other major search engines promote Holocaust denialism in their search results when users search for "Holocaust."
  3. When contacted about promoting Holocaust denial groups at the top of search results, Facebook said it made a mistake and had "corrected the issue."
  4. Germany issued a critique of the recent announcement, stating that such a policy was contrary to German law. “There must be no place for anti-Semitism. This includes verbal and physical attacks on Jews as well as the denial of the Holocaust,” Justice Minister Katarina Barley said. “The latter is also punishable by us and will be strictly prosecuted.”
  5. Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt challenged Zuckerberg, saying that Holocaust denial is “a willful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by anti-Semites that is incontrovertibly hateful, hurtful, and threatening to Jews. Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination.”

We believe that this is unacceptable. Israel Forever’s interns, young as they are, offer a voice of clear moral reason. There is no “right” to deny the Holocaust.

ELLIOT: If Facebook is going to combat other hatred, they have to combat anti-semitic posts as well. Otherwise let there be freedom of speech for all hatred.

ERIC: With so much ignorance in the world, it's important to separate fact from fiction.
- Fact: the Holocaust happened
- Fact: 6 million Jews perished in the Holocaust
- Fact: Denying the Holocaust is a denial of historic reality

Allowing for Holocaust deniers to have an uninhibited voice on Facebook only serves to foster ignorance and Antisemitism. Facebook is not the platform to spread fiction.

JORDAN: I don’t agree with the measures that Mark Zuckerberg, a Jew himself, has taken to address the Holocaust deniers free speech on Facebook. This is a mainstream social media platform, used by millions of people across the world, where an allowance of open and real Antisemitic acts are occurring and not immediately being taken down. Because of its power, Facebook should hold values to ensure that all of their users feel safe and are not blatantly targeted.

Denial of The Holocaust is a threat to the Jewish people. It is the recognition of hate towards the Jewish people. The fact that Facebook allows this to continue, allows for continued hate. Zuckerberg should be ashamed to be ok with denial of his ancestral blood. As the leader of Facebook with their own morals, as well as his own morals raising children Jewish, how is the Jewish population supposed to respond? Now we are normalizing the denial of the Holocaust and promoting people to continue to believe something that is false but think it’s real because they “saw it on Facebook”? It’s not fair and it’s frankly cowardly.

I wholeheartedly believe people make mistakes, and deserve freedom of speech but I do not condone hate speech. Whether against Jews or not, it’s not ok, and it’s not humane. However, it is also fact that Facebook does not allow hate speech against other ethnicities, but it is apparent that there is hate against Jews and there is nothing being done about it. So fix it.

HARLEY: Instead of Facebook allowing Holocaust deniers to continue spreading their false claims in order to promote freedom of speech, it should be educating their wrongly informed users on the traumatic historical event that will forever affect the Jewish community.

RACHEL: There has to be a line drawn between free speech and the defamation of a group of people, by allowing the Holocaust deniers to exist on Facebook, Zuckerberg is allowing for the continued efforts to tear down the Jewish people. Why is that a Rabbi loses access to his facebook page for a study abroad program in Israel but posts denying the Holocaust are able to stand running? This is not a free speech issue as he says, it is simply allowing Antisemitism to continue to rise despite Zuckerberg being a Jew himself. Time and time again Jews are being censored for our views, how come Judaism and pro Israel statements are not considered acceptable free speech? Why is it free speech when it is against the Jews but not for the Jews?

ABBY: As our world is supposedly moving towards a more “accepting” and “diverse” society, it seems to be that Jews are continuously excluded from these movements and mindsets. “We must accept everyone and make all people feel welcome in their country of origin!” Except the Jews.

Facebook, which was created to be a social platform and a way for people across the world to connect, is being used as a tactic for blatant Antisemitism. Holocaust denial is not free speech. It is hate speech. It is complete and utter hatred against Jewish people because it is aimed at denying the murder of 6 million Jews, but not denying the murder of the hundreds of thousands of disabled people, homosexuals, gypsies, blacks and political dissidents.

As a Jewish person, I would no longer want to be a part of the Facebook community. It is supposed to be a safe place for people to express themselves and their views, but apparently this is not the case if you are Jewish.

Mark Zuckerberg, you should be ashamed of yourself. You are aiding and abetting to the rise of Antisemitism across the world and you are hurting your own people. What happens when your Jewish children grow up and they see that their father encouraged people, on his established platform, to deny and and allow denial of the genocide of their ancestors?

Here’s my message to you, Zuckerberg. You will not break us. Your allowance of Holocaust denial talk on your platform will not take away from the fact that the Holocaust DID happen and over 6 million Jews WERE murdered. I, as a proud Jew, will always stand up to bullies like you and I will never let you diminish my pride. The people of Israel are alive and you cannot and will not change this.

LEORA: There is no room in society for Holocaust denial. And the leaders of the social network have the duty to make sure of that. Free speech, for example, attests to one’s views of the international response to The Holocaust, or the expression of solidarity with either party. Free speech does not entail denying the Holocaust. Denying the systematic torture and murder of the Jewish Nation must be recognized for what it is, hate speech. It is responsible of those managing the social network, with all its influence and innovation, to be cautious of its rules and restrictions.

But they must not mix-up categories, because that has its own dire consequences. Free speech and hate speech are distinct. Learning about the Holocaust, understanding what happened, is important not only in Jewish history but in the history of mankind. Thus, the creators of the social network have a greater duty to humanity and so a duty to expel those who deprive us of the ability to learn from past faults and to ultimately strive for good.

MARSHALL: After seeing the first news articles and tweets that Zuckerberg was defending Holocaust deniers, I couldn't believe my eyes. I kept thinking on how the media must have twisted his words or how he misspoke in an interview. But contrary to my belief everything I was reading was true. Mark Zuckerberg, a Jew himself was standing up for deniers and providing them a platform.

I found that after the 2015 Paris attacks Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement “As a Jew, my parents taught me that we must stand up against attacks on all communities. Even if an attack isn’t against you today, in time attacks on freedom for anyone will hurt everyone.” Ironically I believe he doesn’t apply this thinking to his own community, who raised him to become the successful entrepreneur that he is today. If he truly believed this he wouldn’t allow Holocaust deniers to spread the misinformation that they are on Facebook. Allowing them to do so is allowing an attack on every Jew around the world (not to mention an insult to the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust!).

As Zuckerberg looked back on the way Facebook handled fake news in the past election cycle he said “calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it”, one thing is for sure in the future Zuckerberg will realize how naive he was by allowing Holocaust deniers a platform.

I do not agree with Zuckbergs approach to this, as we say “Never Forget” about the Holocaust we must also say that we will never let people spread false tales to minimize the atrocity that occured on our people.

Another perspective: As I asked my roomates their opinions, one of them said its freedom of speech and by allowing them to use facebook as a platform it will enable us to find them and discredit them. But what happens when they are not discredited? What happens when these outrageous and sickening statements are allowed to stand and actually believed by those who don’t take the time to learn the truth?

ONDRIA: Everyone knows there is a fine line between what constitutes as freedom of speech and what is a hate crime. It is one thing for an individual to have hateful opinions, but it is quite another to use social media to spread anti-Semitism and other hate in order to create a norm against the targeted victim group.

Facebook was not meant to be a news outlet; it is not meant to be taken seriously, but in the era of “fake news”, people take advantage that their opinions can become so widespread without any knowledge on a subject and that misinformation is passed on to others who are unfamiliar with the subject. The fact that Mark Zuckerberg is a Jew himself and allowing such disgusting lies go viral about the Holocaust and stand up for those who incite violence against Jews is pathetic.

SOPHIE: Holocaust denial is hate speech. It is an attack on the Jewish people. It is an attack on truth. Holocaust denial de-legitimizes history and the plight of the Jewish people thus having anti-semitism intentions. As a Jew himself, Zuckerberg should be aware of the dangerous implications of these convoluted intentions and the serious damage they can cause for a nation of people.

AUBRIE: Holocaust denial is dangerous. As time goes on and we get further away from the horrific event that was the Holocaust more and more people are not knowledgeable about it’s occurrence or the events that took place. If we allow the memory of the Holocaust to fade and allow Holocaust deniers to proveil it will only cast a darker shadow in people’s memory of the Holocaust and will soon be forgotten or be believed that it never happened.


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Tags: Antisemitism, Holocaust, Education, Jewish Identity

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