In France, the anti-racism organization SOS Racisme has said it was considering making complaints against some users of the social networking service Twitter, following an explosion of anti-Semitic messages posted there in French. SOS Racisme made the statement on its website after the phrase ‘UnBonJuif’ (A good Jew) became the third most popular hashtag [a symbol used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet] among French Twitter users last week.

It served thousands of Twitter users to enter what the French daily “Le Monde” termed “a competition of anti-Semitic jokes.” One Twitter account registered to the username ‘Marcel Leblanc’ posted a picture of an emaciated Jewish woman taken in a Nazi concentration camp as his or her interpretation of what "a good Jew" meant. Others tweeted that “a good Jew is a dead Jew.”

Jonathan Hayoun, president of the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), called on Twitter to “put in place a new system to moderate” anti-Semitic tweets. His organization expressed “grave concern” in light of how popular the hashtag has become. Hayoun told the London-based “Jewish Chronicle” that "Twitter France must ensure that messages that convey racist or anti-Semitic hate speech are not highlighted or available to its entire social network. The fight against racism and anti-Semitism is everyone's business, starting with those that regulate social networks."

On Monday [October 15], the most popular hashtag in France was ‘LaRafle’, meaning “the roundup.” “La Rafle” was the title of a 2010 film about the Holocaust-era deportation of French Jews. It had been aired the previous day by the television channel TF1. Twitter defined the LaRafle hashtag as “related to UnBonJuif.” Many tweets containing the LaRafle hashtag were anti-Semitic, and some users denied the Holocaust.

Michel Zerbib, director the news department of Radio J, France’s largest Jewish radio station, told the news agency [Jewish Telegraphic Agency] JTA that anti-Semitic tweeting matches were “a new but unsurprising development, as the virtual space releases many of the inhibitions that limit anti-Semitic speech in the public sphere.”

The statements came as French authorities remain on alert after a sweep this month that left one man dead and several others in detention on suspicion of being involved in the bombing of a Jewish shop or of planning other anti-Semitic attacks. President François Hollande vowed after the arrests to step up security measures for the Jewish community in France, the largest in Europe.

France's SPCJ Jewish security watchdog said last week that anti-Semitic acts surged by 45% in the first eight months of this year and were given new impetus by deadly attacks in March by Islamic radical Mohamed Merah. Merah went on a shooting rampage in and around the southern city of Toulouse, killing a rabbi, three Jewish children and three French paratroopers before being shot dead in a police siege.

Source: (By World Jewish Congress, October 16, 2012)

Photo Credit: World Jewish Congress

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