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What can be done should be done:
The Fight Against Anti-Semitism on the Internet

[SoundFile (English) - Session 4 / David Gall]
[GERMAN] [FRENCH]

Speech held at Session 4 of the OSCE-Conference on Anti-Semitism in Berlin:
Information and Awareness Raising - The Role of the Media in Conveying and Countering Prejudice

We should not perceive the internet primarily as a threat, but much more as a chance for understanding and dialogue in a pluralistic and global society.

Of course it is true, anti-Semitism holds a more and more dominant and aggressive position on the internet, and the World Wide Web is the most effective tool of distribution of such propaganda. Since it reaches not only those in search for incitement, but also those in search of neutral information, it is the most dangerous tool to articulate and inseminate resentment, prejudice and hate against Jews.

The fact that most people (at least in Germany) know so very little on Jewish life and Judaism, makes it quiet easy for anti-Semites to spread their message of hate.

Anti-Semitism is the distinguishing feature of fundamentalist and nationalistic ideology and as such is linking rather different movements, such as Pamjat in Russia, the Ku-Klux-Klan in America, Christian Arian Alliances and Islamistic fanatics.

It took nearly ten years, until these facts became recognized by a broader audience, and we are very happy, that (consequently) in the next month an OSCE-Conference focusing especially on Anti-Semitism in the Internet is planned.

I do hope, that it will not take another ten years, from recognizing the problem to not only understanding but also supporting effective ways of solution.

It is understandable, that demands for a worldwide binding consensus of values are often made. These demands might even be praiseworthy initiatives, but they are not realistic.

They presume, that it could be established what can be said and circulated about Jews and Israel and this not only in Germany or Europe, but also in Malaysia, in Durban, in Riad and Teheran.

With regard to the oldest and most aggressive stereotype of human history, combined with an international and constantly developing decentralized and open media, strategies mainly trusting on controllability are not only illusive, but in regard to the seriousness of the problem we are dealing with, even dangerous.

The discussion should not aim on what is morally desirable, but should instead focus on what can actually be done.

Since 1995 we developed a rather simple model, which can be used in various manners and in different countries. Possibly it is this successful, for it has been created for something and not against something. We have worked much less against the lies, as for the truth.

Our major strategy is to create a massive counterbalance of detailed information. If we publish 100 of our pages on let's say the Jewish holiday of Purim, the chance that a student in search for information on this subject will end up at our site is a hundred times higher then coming up at a site promoting anti-Semitic slander. The continuing improvement results in high positions in search engines.

Our second approach uses the communicative means of an active and lively online service. Anti-Semitism is often the stronger the less Jews are present. For many teenagers for ex. in East-Germany, the first and only option to establish contact with Jews is through haGalil onLine.

Out of a total of 220.000 readers a month, we receive numerous e-mails or phone-calls with queries from journalists, pupils and teachers everyday. Boards and chat rooms offer the possibility for further communication and discussion. Here it has not been a surprise, when a Nazi dropout met the chairwomen of a Jewish community in Bavaria. They created a series of lectures at schools and youth centres.

We do not solely trust on legislative measures, but our third approach uses juridical means as another effective way in the battle against hate speech. In 1997 after massive attacks on our discussion-boards, we introduced the first form to electronically report on hate-incidents. About 1000 charges are being reported yearly. We do not only pass on the observations of our readers, but conduct our own investigations. One of these investigations led to the exposure of an anti-Semitic speech held by Martin Hohmann, member of the German Parliament, the Bundestag in Berlin. Since we made this finding public in November 2003, he is not a member of his former fraction anymore.

Thank you very much for your attention.

[SoundFile - Session 4 / David Gall]

Session 4 (29-04-2004)
Information and Awareness Raising:
The Role of the Media in Conveying and Countering Prejudice

Moderator:
- Amb. Luigi Vittorio Ferraris, academic and former Deputy Foreign Minister of Italy

Introducers:
- Edward Koch, Former Mayor of New York City
- Prof. Odd-Bjørn Fure, Norwegian Holocaust Centre, Director of Research, Center for Study of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities in Norway

Following the debate of the Vienna Conference on anti-Semitism as well as the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting held in 2003, this session offers an opportunity to register to what extent media, including internet, have strengthened their role in promoting tolerance and preventing hate crimes. Freedom of the media has its counterpart in the responsibility of the media as to the content of the information they are conveying. The fight against hate crimes should, however, be balanced with respect for free expression and a free media. This session could contribute to operationalizing relevant recommendations.

Representatives of media could discuss how best to avoid anti-Semitic messages in the media, including internet, as well as best practices to promote tolerance and community cohesion through the media. Participating States could elaborate on the role of media as part of a comprehensive strategy in the framework of national action plans.
A side-event will be organized to discuss the need to combat hate crimes, which can be fuelled by anti-Semitic propaganda on the internet. Participation of relevant NGOs as well as other actors would be most welcome.

Topics also may include, inter alia:
-- The role of the media in promoting tolerance and preventing hate crimes;
-- How best to avoid anti-Semitic messages in the media and internet;
-- The role of the media as part of a comprehensive strategy for actions at national level;
-- The role of the OSCE and its institutions.

hagalil.com 09-05-2004