Holocaust survivor quits TikTok, cites failure to confront antisemitism

Jews are a ‘token minority’ receiving constant threats of violence on the platform, Gidon Lev’s life partner says

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Holocaust survivor and TikTok influencer Gidon Lev speaks at a European Jewish Association symposium in Prague, January 2023. (Courtesy)
Holocaust survivor and TikTok influencer Gidon Lev speaks at a European Jewish Association symposium in Prague, January 2023. (Courtesy)

Gidon Lev, an Israeli Holocaust survivor with 460,000 followers on TikTok, is leaving the social media platform due to antisemitic harassment on it and inaction or selective intervention by its moderators, his life partner has said.

“TikTok does not actually care, and no they are not listening to Jewish and other minority creators,” Julie Gray, Lev’s partner, wrote in explaining the move in a post published Sunday in The Blogs section of The Times of Israel.

Lev and Gray deactivated the account on Sunday.

The account, where Lev shared “Holocaust education and Gidon’s message of hope,” as Gray termed it, began receiving thousands of negative comments, including that Lev is “supporting genocide” of Gazans or “playing the Holocaust card,” Gray said.

Thousands of followers unfollowed Lev and many more sent him negative messages in connection with the war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, which began when Hamas terrorists murdered some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in towns and villages near Gaza.

Israeli troops have killed thousands of Gazans in a massive military campaign launched after the attack to topple the Hamas regime. The fighting has triggered a wave of antisemitic incidents and attacks in Europe, the United States and beyond.

With regard to TikTok, the “worst part” for Gray was watching the firm “make public statements about how much they care about Jewish creators on TikTok and how they are listening to our concerns,” Gray wrote.

Gray had complained to TikTok about “individual cases” of harassment, and they were “indeed ‘fixed’ by my request. But the larger problem kept happening,” she wrote.

Jews are ultimately a “token minority on an app worth 228 billion dollars,” who will be “traumatized every day with messages of violence,” Gray warned.

Lev, 88, survived Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in what was then Czechoslovakia, for four years between the ages of 6 and 10.

TikTok’s media team did not immediately respond to a Times of Israel request for comment on Gray’s allegations.

Commenting to USA Today, which last week interviewed Gray about the decision to deactivate Lev’s account, TikTok said that it “stands firmly” against antisemitism and has removed over 730,000 videos for hate speech since last month.

“We’re actively listening to the Jewish community and civil society as we work to strengthen our protections to stop the spread of hate,” the company said in a statement to USA Today.

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