Study shows Israel accused of human rights abuses on Twitter 38 times more than Iran

Analysis of 100 million tweets over 2.5 years suggests antisemitic tweets peaked at times of great unrest in the US, including around Jan. 6 insurrection and death of George Floyd

Illustrative: A phone showing the Twitter icon, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Illustrative: A phone showing the Twitter icon, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

An extensive study of social media chatter on the Twitter platform over a period of several years found that Israel is accused of violating human rights more than any other country in the world.

The study carried out by the Ruderman Family Foundation and the nonprofit Network Contagion Research Institute analyzed around 100 million tweets posted between January 1, 2020 and June 30, 2022. It found that Israel is the target of such accusations 12 times more than China, 38 times more than Iran, 55 times more than Russia and 111 times more than North Korea.

The foundation presented the research during a meeting of the Knesset Caucus for Israel-American Jewry Relations last week.

Researchers posited that the vast majority of “anti-Zionist” tweets posted during that time period were also antisemitic in nature, sharing “identical hateful tropes” and applying a double standard to Israeli behavior. The study showed that antisemitic and anti-Zionist tweets peaked at different times in correlation with real-life events and politics.

During the period in question, when the Trump administration was in power, there were six times more antisemitic tweets than there were anti-Zionist tweets, and when the Biden administration was in power, there were around three times more anti-Zionist tweets than antisemitic tweets.

Antisemitic tropes in tweets peaked around the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, the arrival of COVID-19 and subsequent conspiracy theories, and the death of George Floyd and ensuing Black Lives Matter protests. Tweets using anti-Zionist tropes surged during the 2021 war with Gaza, the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the release of an Amnesty International report in 2022 accusing Israel of apartheid.

The report from the foundation also suggested that such peaks correlated with real-life antisemitic attacks both on and off college campuses, but it did not provide examples.

“Many people distinguish between anti-Zionism and antisemitism but our research suggests that the tropes they use are nearly identical,” said Adam Sohn, CEO of NCRI, in a statement. “In the present as well as in previous analyses we’ve done, we found correlation with real-world antisemitic incidents. The tropes of anti-Zionism are used to justify a larger attack against Jews everywhere, and we urge proper measures to be taken against it.”

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