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Hundreds of tweets question incumbents' loyalty and honesty

ADL: Soros conspiracies central to deluge of online attacks on Jews in Congress

Anti-Defamation League says misinformation about liberal, Jewish philanthropist features in an ‘astounding’ 39% of ‘problematic’ tweets targeting 30 Jewish incumbents

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

From right: Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand hold a banner at the march against anti-Semitism in New York City, January 5, 2020. (John Lamparski/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
From right: Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand hold a banner at the march against anti-Semitism in New York City, January 5, 2020. (John Lamparski/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Conspiracy theories surrounding liberal, Jewish philanthropist George Soros constitute an “astounding” proportion of a recent deluge of online anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish members of Congress, the Anti-Defamation League said Monday, citing its latest report.

Over the course one month, beginning July 23, the ADL reviewed nearly 6,000 tweets directed at the 30 Jewish incumbents up for re-election in November for the report. The review deemed 10 percent of those posts “problematic” due to the inclusion of explicitly anti-Semitic content, or certain tropes that required more context to be definitively categorized as anti-Semitic.

Misinformation regarding Soros — a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor and founder of the Open Societies Foundations grant-giving network — constituted 39% of all the tweets labeled “problematic.” The posts included claims that Soros is funding the careers of Jewish incumbents, the media, Black Lives Matter protests and Antifa activists in order to assert a communist or “Jewish supremacy” agenda in the United States.

American Jewish leaders and anti-Semitism watchdogs have described Soros as a modern-day Rothschild, fodder for bigots to make baseless allegations that allude to wealthy Jews seeking world domination.

George Soros at the Joseph A. Schumpeter award ceremony in Vienna, Austria, June 21, 2019 (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

A spokeswoman for Soros told the Wall Street Journal that the report “underscores the urgent need for Twitter and other social-media platforms to take responsibility for the hateful content and violence they promote.”

The ADL survey also found that 48% of the problematic tweets questioned the loyalty, honesty, ideology and faith of Jewish incumbents. Many of the posts claimed that the Jewish Congress members are secretly communists and Marxists, or harbor dual loyalties.

Fifteen percent of the problematic tweets included the broad conspiracy theory that Jews control key political, financial, and media institutions, with the writers alleging that the Jewish incumbents are part of the so-called “Deep State.”

Seven percent of the problematic tweets contained what the ADL characterized as explicitly anti-Semitic language, including words like the ethnic slur “kike,” and other language that violates Twitter’s terms of service. The ADL report said the social media platform has yet to take the posts down, however.

“While Twitter has taken myriad steps to deal with hate speech that violates their terms of service, they’re not identifying or removing this blatant antisemitism quickly enough,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

“Social media platforms are breeding grounds for hate and anti-Semitism at a frightening scale, and as very public and sometimes polarizing figures, Jewish members of Congress often experience the worst of this on Twitter,” Greenblatt added.

A Twitter spokesperson said in a statement that the site is “encouraged that this report reflects that we’re taking action and stepping up our work to protect the public conversation, but we know we’ve more to do. We will remain vigilant and welcome feedback.”

In this file photo conspiracy theorist QAnon demonstrators protest during a rally to re-open California and against Stay-At-Home directives on May 1, 2020 in San Diego, California (Sandy Huffaker/AFP)

Greenblatt also pointed out that the report highlighted “a growing use of QAnon conspiracy theories and other hateful tropes against Jewish members during this important election year.”

QAnon advances a baseless theory that US President Donald Trump is seeking to take down a network of pedophiles deep inside the government. Trump has not denounced the theory.

The ADL study noted that the “alarming” amount of anti-Semitic vitriol targeting Jewish incumbents has been “recently amplified by QAnon, as well as other conspiracy theorists.”

The study also found that Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Chuck Schumer have been disproportionately targeted with problematic tweets, possibly due to their highly visible roles in the impeachment proceedings against Trump that took place last year.

Facebook said Tuesday it will ban pages and groups that openly support QAnon, including accounts on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

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