Experts alarmed at post-10/7 antisemitism, Holocaust denialism trend among some American youths

Antisemitism has become “increasingly mainstreamed,” according to one study, and memory of the Holocaust is “fading” — and the resulting rise in Holocaust denialism among some American youths is, according to the associate dean and director of Global Social Action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, “not very healthy for the future of any democracy.”

“We’re now in an era where the last of the survivors of that era, the victims… they’re leaving the world stage,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper told Fox News Digital. “We’re now here in the 21st century and the generation of young people have grown up with the Internet and especially now with social media, as it advances, dominates more and more and more of our time.”

“We look to our iPhones and iPads and everything else in between for entertainment, for communication, for information,” he said, and “part of the problem, the challenge is that there’s no online librarian, there are no filters.”

“Many younger people no longer look at a newspaper,” Cooper noted. “Whatever information they get about anything could be from TikTok or another social media… that’s not very healthy for the future of any democracy or any society for that matter.”

“That means that for those who are committed to denying history’s greatest crime, the social media technology, the platforms are tailor-made for people [and] governments to put any information they want, manipulate information and data and make what obviously to maybe some of the older people in society, is patently false and dangerous, sound perfectly reasonable,” he said. “That means Holocaust denial and distortion of the Holocaust.”

According to a TikTok spokesperson, the platform “stands firmly against antisemitism” and is “actively listening to the Jewish community and civil society as we work to strengthen our protections to stop the spread of hate,” Fox News Digital reports.

“Our priority is keeping everyone in our community safe, and we’ve removed more than two million videos for hate speech since October 7th,” the spokesperson said.

But according to a study by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), antisemitism was on the rise before Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 Jewish civilians and kidnapping another 240.

“Antisemitism is no longer confined to extremist circles and has become increasingly mainstreamed, a major driver of which is social media and the online sphere,” the study found. “In an era of rising antisemitism, coupled with the fading memory of the Holocaust, the relationship between Holocaust education and combating antisemitism has become even more critical to understand.”

Fox News Digital reports, “In 2020, a nationwide study found nearly one-quarter of younger Americans believed the Holocaust was a myth or exaggerated, and a recent spree of news reports show the attitude prevails.”

Gidon Lev, 88, survived the Holocaust.

He and his partner, Julie Gray, used TikTok to ensure youngsters never forget the horrors of the Nazi camps.

After Oct. 7, citing a slew of antisemitic, Holocaust-denying comments and messages, Lev and Gray took to the platform to urge users to “Just say no to Toxic TikTok.”

“We have reached millions of young people on this app. It had its challenges and sometimes took quite a toll on both of us. But it’s also been wonderful. But increasingly over time and definitely now, it is clear that Bytedance/TikTok is causing a great deal of harm for all users and creators,” Lev and Gray wrote in their farewell video. “We can’t be part of something that causes more harm than good. So for the time being, for our collective well-being, we are taking our leave.”

With comparisons to Nazi Germany being thrown by people on both sides of the political aisle, Cooper says they are “degrading the realities of what actually happened back in that era,” and people are tired of hearing it.

“We’re confronted today with a society where young people don’t know the difference between good and evil, where facts matter less than feelings,” the rabbi said. “When you have countries like Iran in which their official policy is to deny that the Holocaust ever happened, you have the full power of a government, it’s cultural to promote the distortion of the Holocaust, denial of the Holocaust, [which is an] insult to the victims of the Holocaust.”

“We have to do a better job at education and we also have to have the right gatekeepers for education,” he said. “We’re finding that the people who run our most elite universities, many of them don’t consider the concerns and the worries and the issues surrounding antisemitism and threats of genocide because it doesn’t fit a narrative they’re comfortable with. We see the price of that approach.”

Ron Halber, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, warned that, the more time passes, the harder it will be for people to wrap their brains around the Holocaust.

“It becomes increasingly the responsibility of educators to make sure that people realize that the Holocaust is not an historical footnote, but was a genocide perpetuated against the Jews of Europe and the world,” he said. “We lost 6 million of the world’s Jewish population in the worst genocide in history.”

“I really believe that if America did a better job educating its youth about the Holocaust,” Halber said, “we wouldn’t have so many people who think it’s a myth.”

Melissa Fine


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