Trump Defenders Fuel Surge In Anti-Semitic Attacks

“Fifty years ago, these people were hiding behind white hoods. Today, they’re hiding behind their keyboards and smartphones."

Photo Illustration: Diana Quach
Oct 19, 2016 at 2:34 PM ET

A sharp rise in anti-Semitic abuse on Twitter can be traced to a bevy of Donald Trump supporters online, many of whom train their withering attacks on journalists they deem unfavorable toward the Republican nominee, according to a study by a prominent advocacy group.

The findings appeared in a report published Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League, which warned of hate speech against Jews and Israel becoming normalized on a unprecedented scale.

“The results are unambiguously disturbing,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the group’s national director, told The Huffington Post. “Fifty years ago, these people were hiding behind white hoods. Today, they’re hiding behind their keyboards and smartphones. The medium has changed but the message is the same: it’s anti-Semitism, it’s racism and it’s un-American.”

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The organization found social media users posted 2.6 million anti-Semitic messages on Twitter between August 2015 and July 2016. Among those tweets, more than 19,000 were directed at 800 journalists.

These attacks, waged by some 1,600 users, began to surge early this year as the presidential campaign intensified, the ADL found. The majority of users who targeted journalists using anti-Semitic speech and threats included the words “Trump,” “nationalist,” “conservative,” or “white” in their bios.

As Vocativ has been reporting for months, this type of online harassment from the racist right reached a fever pitch after two well-known bigots, and unapologetic Trump supporters—Andrew Anglin and Andrew Auern­heimer—targeted journalists like Julia Ioffe, who wrote a profile about the GOP nominee’s wife Melania Trump for GQ magazine. In a post on his Daily Stormer blog, Anglin—under the headline “Empress Melania Attacked by Filthy Russian Kike Julia Ioffe in GQ“—encouraged his readers to “please go ahead and send [Ioffe] a tweet and let her know what you think of her dirty kike trickery.”

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Other journalists who have been targets of anti-Semitic trolling include CNN’s Jake Tapper, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, and New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman. Earlier this week, a self-identified Trump supporter sent Politico reporter Hadas Gold an edited picture of herself with a bullet hole in her head and a Star of David on her chest.

While ADL’s report was careful to note that the Trump campaign did not support or endorse the attacks, critics have long alleged that the Republican nominee has been reluctant to denounce or distance himself from supporters who embrace anti-Semitic, racist, or white supremacist beliefs. Trump has also repeatedly invoked a deep dislike for reporters, and has begun to claim that the mainstream media is conspiring the “rig” the election against him.

Seeking to intimidate members of the press, a group of diehard Trump supporters on Monday night doxed 50 journalists by publishing their home addresses and phone numbers online.