The new epidemic: Influencers’ antisemitism

Ayaan Hirsi Ali says that social media influencers have turned fake narratives into deadly ones, according to the Action and Protection Foundation website, based on the activist’s essay on UnHerd.

„Of all the narratives competing for our attention, there is none as volatile as the one that tells the story of Israel-Palestine. Indeed, there is no other conflict in the world that manages to combine all the highly charged story-lines of our time: the narrative of the oppressor versus the oppressed, of the coloniser versus the colonised, of the genocide perpetrator and system of supremacy,” writes Hirsi Ali in an essay entitled “How influencers have legitimised anti-Semitism.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born and prominent women’s rights activist who is critical of Islam and currently living in America, says this is an emotional subject that everyone has an opinion about, everyone wants to tell their side of the “truth.” But instead of following a thoughtful, conscious approach, people only want to defend their “side” and, in turn, drift away from the facts and start accepting narratives that reject and overshadow objective truths.

Today’s narratives about Israel and the Jewish people are dangerous and are already wreaking havoc around the world. How else can we explain the fact that antisemitism has flared up in many places in the West since the recent Israeli-Gaza conflict? Of course, this is not a new phenomenon, Hirsi Ali recalls. Antisemitism has been present in a more covert form in Europe and America for decades, in radical left-wing, radical right-wing and Islamist circles. 

Today, however, antisemitism not only exists on the margins of society but has begun to flow into the political mainstream, and

this is primarily due to social media, which has turned it into a kind of „contagion, normalising anti-Semitic tropes and attacks,” the author notes. 

Hirsi Ali cited an ADL statement according to which, since the resumption of fighting in Gaza, 17,000 tweets were sent in under one week that contained in some form the message that “Hitler was right.” 

Antisemitism has spread like wildfire on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, largely thanks to popular influencers who, along with their young, influential audiences, use their platforms to showcase the suffering of Palestinians. Obviously, they think they are fighting for a good cause, writes Hirsi Ali, but what they don’t realize is that they are inadvertently harming Jews, those living in the West as well. 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes “inadvertently”

because she believes „the majority of users posting infographics and memes about Israel-Palestine are simply under-educated and ill-informed.”

After all, the author continues, thousands of years of history and the background of the conflict simply cannot be captured with a few screenshots or 280 characters. 

As an example, the author cites supermodel Bella Hadid, with her slew of Insta followers far outnumbering the Jews in the world, and who, in the wake of  the Gaza conflict took part in a pro-Palestinian demonstration, chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” an antisemitic slogan coined by the PLO and calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. But Hamas also identifies with the slogan, as the purpose of this terrorist organization, according to its charter, was to destroy the Jewish state. 

When Israel accused Hadid of preaching for its elimination, the author notes, her fans came to her defense, saying Hadid did not want to harm the Jews, she just wanted a free Palestine. And this, Hirsi Ali rightly points out, is where these false narratives become such a threat: Hadid was unaware of the context and history of the slogan — at least so Hirsi Ali assumes — unaware, that is, that this slogan means the annihilation of Israel, the expulsion or genocide of the Jews.