Ambassador Dermer: After Pittsburgh, U.S. Must Follow Israel's Lead and Monitor Social Networks

There is no connection between Trump's actions and the rise in anti-Semitism in America, says Israel's envoy in remarks about synagogue killings in Pittsburgh

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, second right and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, third right, walk near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, October 28, 2018.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, second right and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, third right, walk near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, October 28, 2018.Credit: Matt Rourke,AP
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer said Tuesday that just as Israel monitors extremist groups on the social networks, America must do so as well – even if it means bypassing certain constitutional limitations.

During a radio interview with Mark Levin, a well-known right-wing radio show host, Dermer was commenting on the shootings in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg on Saturday, in which 11 Jews were murdered, and stressed that Israel monitors social media effectively and the United States must find ways to do the same.

"I will tell you, Mark, that in Israel we monitor the Internet. Now we’re a different country and you have constitutional protections here and I know that you’re a great defender of them," Dermer said. He added, "But hopefully your law enforcement authorities can figure out a way within your laws and constitutional rights that Americans have to figure out a way to monitor this." 

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Indeed, Dermer said, social media are related to the rise in anti-Semitism in the U.S.

“You could have one 100th of 1 percent, could be 30,000 Americans. And these extremists – it could be people like [former KKK grand wizard] David Duke, it could be neo-Nazis, it could be white nationalists, all sorts of people. But online, they can actually build communities of hate in a way that they couldn’t do before,” the envoy said.

“So I think you as you get more and more people going into social media, as you have this rise of these online hate groups – I think it’s extremely dangerous. And it has given them a sense of community of haters,” Dermer noted.

The ambassador dismissed claims that the rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incidents are linked to U.S. President Donald Trump. What is happening, he said, “is the rise of anti-Semitism over the last couple decades. What you had was about a half-century after the Holocaust, where it was politically incorrect to attack Jews. And I think what you’ve seen happen over the last two decades, is that it’s once again become fashionable to attack Jews. And it’s no longer politically incorrect to go after Jews."

“Now most of the attacks actually hide themselves behind a mask of hatred toward Israel, to the one and only Jewish state. But the singling out of Israel is very much like they used to single out the Jews for special treatment. So I think you’ve seen this on the rise. It’s not just in America. It’s all around the world,” said Dermer.

He added that he was pleased with Trump’s response to the shootings, and had never heard any non-Jewish or non-Israeli leader take such a strong stance against anti-Semitism, or say that anyone who kills Jews – will be killed themselves. It is important for both the right and the left to expel extremists from their midst, said Dermer.

>> Read more: Revealed: Israel's Cyber-spy Industry Helps World Dictators Hunt Dissidents and Gays ■ Israeli Military Worked to Create System to Track Social Media Users' Private Correspondence

On Monday, the ambassador told interviewer Ayman Mohyeldin on MSNBC: “I see a lot of people on both sides who attack Jews … To simply say that this is because of one person, only comes on one side, is to not understand the history of anti-Semitism or the reality of anti-Semitism.”

Dermer went on to describe what he sees is one of the major focuses of phenomenon: “One of the big forces in college campuses today is anti-Semitism. And those anti-Semites are usually not neo-Nazis, on college campuses. They’re coming from the radical left. We have to stand against anti-Semitism whether it comes from the right or whether it comes from the left.”

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