June 3, 2016 Last Updated 10:37 am

ADL forms task force to access scope and source of anti-Semitic harassment of journalists

The formation of the ‘Task Force on Hate Speech and Journalism’ by the Anti-Defamation League follows a series of threats against journalists posted to social media

The Anti-Defamation League has created a task force in the wake of anti-Semitic harassment and death threats posted to social media, most often by supporters of presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Targets of the harassment have included former New Republic staffer Julia Ioffe, and Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic.

Ioffe authored a profile of Melania Trump, wife of the candidate, for Hearst’s GQ Magazine, leading to a series of harrassing tweets and emails, many warning the journalists that should Trump become president she would be harmed in some way.


“In the wake of a series of disturbing incidents where journalists covering the 2016 presidential campaign have been targeted with anti-Semitic harassment and even death threats on social media, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced today it is convening a Task Force on Hate Speech and Journalism,” the ADL announced earlier this week.

“Journalists are used to being criticized, but this election cycle we repeatedly have seen criticism quickly cross the line into ugly anti-Semitic and other hateful attacks including death threats,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO.

Ioffe was named as an advisor on the task force, as well as Todd Gitlin, Professor and Chair of the Columbia Journalism School, and Bethany Mandel, New York Post and Jewish Daily Forward contributor.

The mission of the ADL task force will be to 1) Assess the scope and source of anti-Semitic, racist and other harassment of journalists, commentators, and others on social media; 2) Determine whether and how this harassment is having an impact on the electorate or if it has a chilling effect on free speech; and 3) Propose solutions and/or countermeasures that can prevent journalists becoming targets for hate speech and harassment on social media in the future.

While Trump has not said anything about the harrassment of Jewish journalists, his surrogates have said it is not the candidate’s responsibility to denounce every incident.

“I do not think Mr. Trump can be responsible for people who are anti-Semitic who support him,” the chief legal officer of Trump Organization, told Jewish radio host Nachum Segal. “He has come out clearly against anti-Semitism.”

“The fact that the Black Panthers came out for Barack Obama doesn’t make Barack Obama a Black Panther sympathizer,” Ari Fleischer, former Bush spokesman told The Huffington Post. “You cannot ascribe to a candidate the views of the worst radical fringes that may support them. … These arguments about how Donald Trump shouldn’t be supported because fringe radical groups have said good things about him — I reject entirely.”

The Coverage:

The Huffington Post, Jessica Schulberg:

“He’s not Hitler,” Melania Trump said earlier this month in defense of her husband.

It’s a disclaimer not typically offered about the presidential nominee of a modern political party. But white nationalists and neo-Nazis have embraced Donald Trump — sending robocalls on his behalf, calling him their “Glorious Leader” on hate websites, and sending threatening messages to Jewish journalists covering him — and the presumptive Republican standard-bearer has repeatedly declined opportunities to denounce them…

…And although many Jewish conservatives are disgusted that Trump’s campaign has invigorated and delighted fringe neo-Nazi groups, some top Jewish Republicans have decided to simply look the other way.

Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, for whom support of Israel is the key issue in selecting a candidate to back, endorsed Trump shortly after Ioffe filed a police report over the death threats she’d received from his supporters.

The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman:

The first tweet arrived as cryptic code, a signal to the army of the “alt-right” that I barely knew existed: “Hello ((Weisman)).” @CyberTrump was responding to my recent tweet of an essay by Robert Kagan on the emergence of fascism in the United States.

“Care to explain?” I answered, intuiting that my last name in brackets denoted my Jewish faith.

“What, ho, the vaunted Ashkenazi intelligence, hahaha!” CyberTrump came back. “It’s a dog whistle, fool. Belling the cat for my fellow goyim.” With the cat belled, the horde was unleashed.

The anti-Semitic hate, much of it from self-identified Donald J. Trump supporters, hasn’t stopped since. Trump God Emperor sent me the Nazi iconography of the shiftless, hooknosed Jew. I was served an image of the gates of Auschwitz, the famous words “Arbeit Macht Frei” replaced without irony with “Machen Amerika Great.” Holocaust taunts, like a path of dollar bills leading into an oven, were followed by Holocaust denial. The Jew as leftist puppet master from @DonaldTrumpLA was joined by the Jew as conservative fifth columnist, orchestrating war for Israel. That one came from someone who tagged himself a proud future member of the Trump Deportation Squad.

The National Review, Ben Shapiro:

I’ve spent most of my career arguing that anti-Semitism in the United States is almost entirely a product of the political Left. I’ve traveled across the country from Iowa to Texas; I’ve rarely seen an iota of true anti-Semitism. I’ve sensed far more anti-Jewish animus from leftist college students at the University of California, Los Angeles, than from churches in Valencia. As an observer of President Obama’s thoroughgoing anti-Israel administration, I could easily link the anti-Semitism of the Left to its disdain for both Biblical morality and Israeli success over its primary Islamist adversaries. The anti-Semitism I’d heard about from my grandparents — the country-club anti-Semitism, the alleged white-supremacist leanings of rednecks from the backwoods — was a figment of the imagination, I figured.

I figured wrong.

Donald Trump’s nomination has drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork.

This article was cross-posted from TNM’s beta website covering the intersection of politics and the media, PoliMedia.press.

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