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July 26, 2013

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 26, 2013 release, i By Alina Dain Sharon Twitter [has] agreed to re- lease data identifying users to French authorities in response to a January ruling by a French court regarding anti-Semitic tweets posted last October under the hashtag #unbon- juif (#agoodjew). Users had jumped on the chance to tweet phrases like "a good Jew is a dead Jew," ultimately forcing the French Jewish students' union (UEJF) to file a lawsuit against Twitter for allowing that content to appear. [The] decision by Twitter was "a great victory in the fight against racism and anti- Semitism" and "a big step in the fight against the feeling of impunity on the Inter- net," said Jonathan Hayoun, president of France's Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), in a statement. When the French court had decided last January thatTwit- ter must reveal the identities of users who sent out those anti-Semitic tweets, Twitter initially refused to release the data. UEJF then sued Twitter for 38.5 million euros. In a rare newly announced move overlooking U.S. free speech laws Twitter agreed to release the data and said in a state- ment that the social network will work with UEJF "to fight racism and anti-Semitism," and "to improve the acces- sibility of the procedure for notifications of illicit tweets." The French incident, which led to a cross-continental debate on the difficulty of defining and policing anti- Semitism online, is hardly the first case of hate in social media and on the Web. The Simon Wiesenthal Center's 2013 Digital Terrorism and Hate Report found more than 20,000 hate and terror-related websites, social networks, fo- rums and more, a 30-percent increase from 15,000 in 2012. Also in Europe, a February report by the Community Security Trust showed that the number of anti-Semitic incidents via social media in the United Kingdom grew nearly 700 percent in the 12 months before itwas released. "Social media is becoming more and more of a problem for us if you look at anti- Semitism," Ronald Eissens, co-founder of the Dutch anti-racism group Magenta and the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH), which works to counter cyber- hate and has 21 members in 20 countries, told "There's a lot of it around. Herr Wolf Modern anti-Semitic pro- paganda from the Interna. tional People's Party. Prosecution is a lot harder because most social media are based firmly in the U.S." In France, the Gayssot law of 1990 was passed to repress racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic acts and criminal- izes Holocaust denial. French Holocaust denier Robert Fau- risson later claimed the law violated his right to freedom of expression and academic freedom, but the United Na- tions Human Rights Commit- tee ruled against him. France punishes the dissemination of racist content online with fines and terms of impris- onment. These penalties increase if the dissemination was public--for example, on a website rather than in a private email--according to the American Jewish Com- mittee (AJC). France has faced off against an American online giant before. In 2000, France pros- ecuted Yahoo! for selling Nazi memorabilia online. In France, it is illegal to display such items unless they are in a theatrical or museum set- ting. A French court ruled at the time that Yahoo! had to make the auction site inacces- sible to French users or pay a fine. Although it never legally accepted the French ruling, Yahoo! eventually chose to remove the auction. Then, in 2012, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube com- plied with German law by either taking down material posted by a neo-Nazi group or by blocking users in Germany from access to the content, according to the New York Times. Additional broad laws have been passed on racism and cyber-hate. 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For fees and registration information, please call Susan Sparrow at 407-298-4650 or email: Founded in 1918 Member of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism 613 Concourse Parkway South, Maitland, FL 32751 * (407) 298-4650 Please view our Website: The European Framework Decision on Combatting Rac- ism and Xenophobia was then passed in 2008. In 2005, the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC)'s Working Definition ofanti-Semitismwas released, defining the phenomenon as "a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews." "Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semi- tism are directed toward Jew- ish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institu- tions and religious facilities... More specifically, manifesta- tions could also target the state of Israel, conceived as Jewish collectivity," the defini- tion reads. Though that definition was never legally binding, various international bodies, several law enforcement agencies and European courts have used it in their investigations. It is es- sentially meant to "help police forces who are monitoring anti-Semitism on the ground to have a better understand- ing of what anti-Semitism is," Kenneth Stern, the AJC's specialist on anti-Semitism and extremism, told Under the First Amend- ment, hate speech in the U.S. must be likely to cause violence or harm before it can be deemed criminal. But in the European Union, speech can be prohibited even if it is only abusive, insulting or likely to disturb public order, noted Talia Naamat, legal re- searcher at the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry in Jerusalem. There are many laws on Ho- locaust denial in Europe, in- cluding in Germany, Belgium, and Austria, where British Holocaust denier David Irving was convicted and imprisoned in 2006. In Spain, Holocaust denial was a criminal violation until 2007, when a court ruled in the case ofneo-Nazi activist Pedro Valera that Holocaust denial could not be punished with imprisonment because the act falls within free speech. But in January, Spain's justice minister proposed a new bill that would make Holocaust denial a criminal offense if it incites violence. The bill is expected to be approved later this year. "I believe this case best encapsulates the debate (in Europe) between freedom of expression versus incitement to hatred, as well as the vary- ing degrees of protection from hate speech," Naamat told But frequently, such European laws appear as part of a broader "incitement to ra- cial, ethnic or religious hatred or discrimination," or as part of the general prohibition of genocide, she said. In the Netherlands, the Dutch penal code includes a broad anti-discrimination provision, " so, anti-Semitic content in essence will be prosecuted if it's brought to the prosecutor as falling under the anti-discrimination legis- lation," Eissens said. Last year Jeroen de Kreek, a Dutch Holocaust denier who posted his material on several websites, was sued in court. "His material is blatantly anti- Semitic," Eissens said in Feb- ruary. In June a Dutch court ruled that though Kreek's anti-Semitic statements are punishable, he cannot be punished due to insanity, ac- cording to Eissen's Magenta. The UK has only general legislation regarding harass- ment and discrimination, The Public Order act of 1986, which states that "a person who uses threatening words or behavior, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred." Other laws, the Protection from Harassment Act, the Malicious Communications Act, and the Racial and Reli- gious Hatred Act, were passed in subsequent years. "Our perspective is that things which are illegal of- fline should be illegal online," Dave Rich, spokesman for Community Security Trust, which conducted the February survey on social media anti- Semitism in the UK, according to the International Business Times. "Racial abuse laws were made from incidents in the street, not online." European laws on the issue, however, are not uniformly applied across the EU. Even the European Court of Hu- man Rights does not offer an accepted definition for "hate speech," instead offering only parameters by which prosecu- tors can decide if the "hate speech" is entitled to the pro- tection of freedom of speech. Prosecutors therefore exercise a great amount of discretion, as do policemen, who must classify the act as a hate crime or not, and judges, who must assess which action or speech is likely to disturb public order. "That assessment can be sub- jective," Naamat said. INACH's Eissens empha- sized that prosecuting anti- Semitism is "a thing we do but not the only thing we do." The organization is also highly focused on counter- speech projects, education and prevention, though Eis- sens does believe that the law is necessary in some extreme cases. "It's a bit like the police ar- rests 20 people this week and the same people are back on the streets doing it again one month later, or they're joined by another 40; it doesn't mean that the police has to stop working," he said. Stern believes that it is gen- erally "more effective to have hateful speech marginalized than censored," particularly by having high-ranking offi- cials or politicians call it out. In 2005, Stern was part of a debate in the U.S. between Jewish groups on the issue of anti-Semitism online. One school of thought was in favor of removing anti-Semitic con- tent, the other side believed such content "is away to train kids in this new medium," on how to distinguish hateful speech from benign speech, he said. The bigger problem, Stern said, is when anti-Semitism, online or otherwise, is ex- pressed as normal, polite dinner conversation. "I'll be less worried if it's half a dozen neo-Nazis with tattoos sitting in a bar someplace," he said.