What can be done should be done:
Fighting Anti-Semitism on the Internet
(English) - Session 4 / David Gall]
Speech held at Session 4 of
the OSCE-Conference on Anti-Semitism in Berlin:
Information and Awareness Raising - The Role of the Media in
Conveying and Countering Prejudice
We should not perceive the internet primarily as a threat, but much
more as a chance for understanding and dialogue in a pluralistic and
Of course it is true, anti-Semitism holds a more
and more dominant and aggressive position on the internet, and the
World Wide Web is the most effective tool of distribution of such
propaganda. Since it reaches not only those in search for
incitement, but also those in search of neutral information, it is
the most dangerous tool to articulate and inseminate resentment,
prejudice and hate against Jews.
The fact that most people (at least in Germany)
know so very little on Jewish life and Judaism, makes it quiet easy
for anti-Semites to spread their message of hate.
Anti-Semitism is the distinguishing feature of
fundamentalist and nationalistic ideology and as such is linking
rather different movements, such as Pamjat in Russia, the
Ku-Klux-Klan in America, Christian Arian Alliances and Islamistic
It took nearly ten years, until these facts became
recognized by a broader audience, and we are very happy, that
(consequently) in the next month an OSCE-Conference focusing
especially on Anti-Semitism in the Internet is planned.
I do hope, that it will not take another ten
years, from recognizing the problem to not only understanding but
also supporting effective ways of solution.
It is understandable, that demands for a worldwide
binding consensus of values are often made. These demands might even
be praiseworthy initiatives, but they are not realistic.
They presume, that it could be established what
can be said and circulated about Jews and Israel and this not only
in Germany or Europe, but also in Malaysia, in Durban, in Riad and
With regard to the oldest and most aggressive
stereotype of human history, combined with an international and
constantly developing decentralized and open media, strategies
mainly trusting on controllability are not only illusive, but in
regard to the seriousness of the problem we are dealing with, even
The discussion should not aim on what is morally
desirable, but should instead focus on what can actually be done.
Since 1995 we developed a rather simple model,
which can be used in various manners and in different countries.
Possibly it is this successful, for it has been created for
something and not
against something. We have worked much less against the
lies, as for the truth.
Our major strategy is to create a massive
counterbalance of detailed information. If we publish 100 of our
pages on let's say the Jewish holiday of Purim, the chance that a
student in search for information on this subject will end up at our
site is a hundred times higher then coming up at a site promoting
anti-Semitic slander. The continuing improvement results in high
positions in search engines.
Our second approach uses the communicative means
of an active and lively online service. Anti-Semitism is often the
stronger the less Jews are present. For many teenagers for ex. in
East-Germany, the first and only option to establish contact with
Jews is through haGalil onLine.
Out of a total of 220.000 readers a month, we
receive numerous e-mails or phone-calls with queries from
journalists, pupils and teachers everyday. Boards and chat rooms
offer the possibility for further communication and discussion. Here
it has not been a surprise, when a Nazi dropout met the chairwomen
of a Jewish community in Bavaria. They created a series of lectures
at schools and youth centres.
We do not solely trust on legislative measures,
but our third approach uses juridical means as another effective way
in the battle against hate speech. In 1997 after massive attacks on
our discussion-boards, we introduced the first form to
electronically report on hate-incidents. About 1000 charges are
being reported yearly. We do not only pass on the observations of
our readers, but conduct our own investigations. One of these
investigations led to the exposure of an anti-Semitic speech held by
Martin Hohmann, member of the German Parliament, the Bundestag in
Berlin. Since we made this finding public in November 2003, he is
not a member of his former fraction anymore.
Thank you very much for your attention.
- Session 4 / David Gall]
Session 4 (29-04-2004)
Information and Awareness Raising:
The Role of the Media in Conveying and Countering
- Amb. Luigi Vittorio Ferraris, academic and former Deputy
Foreign Minister of Italy
- Edward Koch, Former Mayor of New York City
- Prof. Odd-Bjørn Fure, Norwegian Holocaust Centre, Director
of Research, Center for Study of the Holocaust and Religious
Minorities in Norway
Following the debate of the Vienna Conference on
anti-Semitism as well as the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
held in 2003, this session offers an opportunity to register to what
extent media, including internet, have strengthened their role in
promoting tolerance and preventing hate crimes. Freedom of the media
has its counterpart in the responsibility of the media as to the
content of the information they are conveying. The fight against
hate crimes should, however, be balanced with respect for free
expression and a free media. This session could contribute to
operationalizing relevant recommendations.
Representatives of media could discuss how best to
avoid anti-Semitic messages in the media, including internet, as
well as best practices to promote tolerance and community cohesion
through the media. Participating States could elaborate on the role
of media as part of a comprehensive strategy in the framework of
national action plans.
A side-event will be organized to discuss the need to combat hate
crimes, which can be fuelled by anti-Semitic propaganda on the
internet. Participation of relevant NGOs as well as other actors
would be most welcome.
Topics also may include, inter alia:
-- The role of the media in promoting tolerance and preventing hate
-- How best to avoid anti-Semitic messages in the media and
-- The role of the media as part of a comprehensive strategy for
actions at national level;
-- The role of the OSCE and its institutions.