Hate Speech on Israeli Social Media Grew 9 Percent in Past Year, Report Shows

Main targets were Arabs, followed by the ultra-Orthodox, Hate Index Report says after counting 5.2 million comments that were offensive or called for violence

Yair Brill
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An iPhone displays the Facebook app.
An iPhone displays the Facebook app.Credit: AP Photo/Jenny Kane
Yair Brill

Hate speech on Israeli Hebrew-language social media grew by 9 percent over the past 12 months, compared with the previous 12 months, according to the Hate Index Report issued Sunday by the Berl Katznelson Foundation, in conjunction with the Vigo research institute.

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Analyzing millions of posts, tweets, comments, responses and more collected between August 2020 and mid-July 2021, the study counted 5.2 million comments that were offensive or called for violence. The number of hateful posts peaked in October 2020, while May 2021 set a record for hate speech against Arabs, which coincided with the confrontations in Sheikh Jarrah, the riots in mixed Jewish-Arab cities and the latest round of fighting in Gaza.

The report said there had been a decline in hateful posts since June, perhaps in response to the halt of the Gaza conflict or a result of the establishment of the new government.

Protesters hold signs reading 'leftists are traitors' outside the home of Ayelet Shaked, in May. Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

The populations that were most targeted by internet invective were Arabs, who suffered 32.7 percent of the offensive posts, followed by the ultra-Orthodox 17.4 percent) and the Israeli left (13.9 percent).

The Ashkenazi-Mizrahi divide was also evident, with 8 percent of the offensive posts directed towards Mizrahim (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African origin) and 4.7 percent towards Ashkenazim. LGBTQ people also suffered insults and threats, with 7.9 percent of the hate speech directed at them.

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