Celebrating Terror: antisemitism online after the Hamas attacks on Israel
The repercussions of the atrocities inflicted on Israeli civilians by Hamas on 7 October are still being felt within the region and the wider world. Reports of antisemitic incidents on the streets of European cities have rocketed. Social media has erupted with frenzied responses. Over the past two weeks, the Decoding Antisemitism team has qualitatively analysed more than 11,000 comments posted on social media platforms in the UK, Germany and France in reaction to reports of the Hamas attacks. This report summarises our preliminary findings:
- There has been a significant jump in the number of antisemitic comments posted in comment threads about the Hamas attacks, even compared with other violent incidents in the Middle East
- Celebration, support for and justification of the Hamas terror attacks make up the largest proportion of antisemitic comments – ranging between 19 % in German Facebook comment sections and 53 and 54.7 % in French Facebook and UK YouTube comment sections respectively – in contrast to previous studies where direct affirmation of violence was negligible
- The number of antisemitic comments celebrating or glorifying the atrocities rises in response to graphic media reports of attacks on Jews themselves, compared with reports on the conflict more generally
While these conclusions will be subject to further analysis, it is already clear that the response to these events represents a turning point in social media discourse and in the studies Decoding Antisemitism has been conducting since 2020. The preliminary study suggests that the events have been marked by a normalisation of explicit hate speech and a potential radicalisation of even politically moderate online milieus. The terrorist events of 7 October, which the Israeli public describes as the worst crime since the Holocaust, have opened a new chapter for the articulation of antisemitism in ‘mainstream’ discourses on social media.