By Amy Zewe
Well, technically, yes this is true. Until the words lead to action.
When hate is manifested in words—whether a verbal speech, a flyer, article or sign, or when it is posted to the internet to be read by millions across the globe—many argue that free speech is impeded when we attempt to silence those who say things we disagree with. We also ask ourselves who deems what is considered “hateful”?
There is a certain amount of truth to that because we are all taught when we were growing up that we need to use our words to solve disagreements, not our fists (or sticks or stones, or whatever little kids get their hands on during a temper tantrum).
Many fail to vet their own words or deliberately use them to publish their rage or hate. And many who consume that speech fail to vet it for truth and reason. And in this espousing of hate, the speaker or writer may indeed be shepherding others to take up that rock or stone to complete the thought the hateful words originally expressed.
God is clear that our words (which generate from our thoughts/mind and hearts) have meaning and consequences. An early indication is in Deuteronomy 30:19:
Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! –
Curses and blessings are spoken, and the choice originates in the heart (or mind), and the outcome is physical.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand.
It often amazes me that the Old Testament writers, inspired by God, knew the psychology of even the most modern people with the most modern devices.
We all know that what is in our minds, our hearts, ultimately defines our actions. And the constant stream of hateful and untrue information about Israel and jews that occurs online, from classroom lecterns, religious pulpits or in papers—whether from celebrities and politician’s social media posts and others’ social media posts, or woven into forms of entertainment—these notions will creep into the minds of the ordinary citizens, allowing them to either commit, or stand by with apathy and watch others commit great injustices.
We have seen this before, in our recent history as well as the most ancient
What are some examples of words that may lead to broken bones?
A Jerusalem Post article noted antisemitic flyers in Melbourne Australia blaming covid on Jews. And this was just earlier this month! Blaming Jews for illnesses is a centuries-old liable and had produced wicked outcomes for the Jewish community committed by those who believed these lies.
In New Zealand, where Jews make up less than .2 % of the population—less than 10000 of them in the whole nation—are seeing an uptick in online attacks. The Study finds the following:
The organization has collated content from New Zealand users and platforms over the past year and says there is a risk it will cause real-world harm.
And this in the most tolerant and progressive of nations where crime is low and co-existence seems to be nearly perfected: Survey results from New Zealand reveals:
While most forms of discrimination are unacceptable in ‘progressive’ thinking, antisemitism does not seem to count as racism because Jews can be accused of ‘white privilege,’ despite Jews being indigenous to the Levant and often of color, and latent hatred can be hidden under a cloak of Zionophobia.
The forms of online antisemitism often focus on delegitimizing Israel. The route of that may be within our educational materials. We see some progress in combatting this within the ongoing works within the Abraham Accords:
Delegitimization of Israel is one of the main forms of antisemitism in the 21st century. At ADL we’re working with the UAE to look at their textbooks for antisemitism. Slowing the poison by working with these countries can be very helpful to combatting antisemitism worldwide.
It is amazing that while the UAE is vetting its schools’ books for antisemitism, California and other CRT-peddling US-public school systems seem to be actively, yet stealth fully, inserting it in!
Online delegitimization of Israel is a new, hip social-justice cause….It is now, in certain circles, the norm.
It is becoming the norm because it goes unchecked, unchallenged, and as such, accepted—including within our school systems and amongst our celebrities and politicians.
And it is not just New Zealand, Melbourne, Australia, and the US (and more examples can be found in the UK and other places in Europe). Toronto has an ongoing antisemitism problem among its premier universities and within its communities:
As with the US (as FBI data proves), “Jews in Canada continue to be disproportionately the victims of hate crime.” (Bnai Brith Canada). All those crimes started in someone’s heart because of words they saw or were fed. This does not exonerate the criminals from being responsible for their own behavior, it just explains it.
While many strides are being made to combat the evil words, and not all of it is about silencing folks such as hateful speakers at schools. Nor is it only about revising schoolbooks to make sure the information is fair and complete. It is also often about getting into a clear debate and debunking faulty thinking. We must stay diligent to recognize antisemitism and anti-Zionism in all its forms, subtle and obvious. Antisemitism can manifest in a school classroom, our city streets, our campus quads, the halls of our political institutions and within our various forms of entertainment. We cannot shut down speech, but we must be at the ready with thoughtful, fact-filled rebuttals to inaccuracies, bias, and malice.
Don’t allow what you read and learn or what your children read and learn to go unchecked or overlooked. Expose bias to your family, friends, and especially your children so they will on guard to guard their ears and eyes—and that can mean developing a critical and reasoned set of ears and eyes to not just shut it out, but to be able to shut it down.
Shavua tov; have a great week.