#SpeakOut Jordana Meyer: A First Hand Account From A Victim of Online Antisemitism
By Jordana Meyer, NYU Student
Blatant antisemitism is not something I ever thought I would encounter in my lifetime.
I was raised acutely aware of my great-grandparents who fled Czarist and Soviet Russia hidden in vegetable carts. I was also aware of my grandfather who left everything when fleeing Nazi Germany, so that my siblings, cousins, and I could grow up in America - the land of opportunity - free to practice our Judaism with a sense of pride that our ancestors only dreamed of.
So, when my social media was flooded a few weeks ago with messages like “I am disappointed the Nazis aren’t wiping all of you out,” and “Zionist whore, you and your family should be gassed” the shock came before the hurt.
Overwhelmed by the hate, I dealt with it the only way I knew how - I ridiculed it. I pitied the cowards hiding behind their screens, sending poisonous messages riddled with typos, and I had a good laugh at a particularly polite death threat: “die soon…hopefully of natural causes, but soon.” How considerate.
The messages came in response to an article I posted on Facebook about women in the IDF and gender equality in Israel. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing inflammatory. Nevertheless, a not-so-friendly Facebook “friend” took it upon himself to share my post below a post of his own slandering me both personally and politically. A “friend” of his continued the chain on his own Facebook wall, and it began to spiral.
"My social media was flooded a few weeks ago with messages like 'I am disappointed the Nazis aren’t wiping all of you out,” and “Zionist whore, you and your family should be gassed'"
Before I even knew what had happened, I found my post plastered all over anti-Israel sites across social media. From students at my university, to Palestinian poets, to a Ramallah-based Palestinian news outlet with over 300k followers, my post, my face, my name, and where I go to school were everywhere. The messages started pouring in: “child murderer,” “war pig,” “baby killer terrorist scum,” “Hitler is better than you.” They could have at least been more creative.
These messages hurt me not only because they threatened my family, or because they threatened my safety (which I took seriously; a good friend of mine had already been physically attacked at an Israel event on my campus), but because they misrepresented me. These hypocrites disregarded my years of activism and advocacy for causes that they probably agree with. They wrote me off as an abomination to humanity because I had the audacity to speak out for my own people.
It’s just so ironic. I have spent most of my life advocating for other marginalized groups, touting phrases like “Justice, justice thou shalt pursue” and “if I am only for myself, what am I?”
"None of this matters to some people. Because I am a Jew "
For over a year, I spent six hours almost every Sunday training to be a diversity workshop facilitator, learning how to lead privilege walks and unconscious bias workshops. I spent the summer before my senior year of high school in the Deep South of the United States with a group of other Jewish and African-American students, tracing the route of the 1961 Freedom Riders. We met with over ninety speakers from original Freedom Riders to Alabama Death Row inmates, former Klansmen to a founder of the Black Lives Matter movement.
I spent the summer of 2017 working at a refugee resettlement agency, filing affidavits for Middle Eastern and Central American refugees affected by the travel ban. I led diversity workshops for hundreds of people up and down the East Coast and spoke at unity events. I can recite the histories of each civil rights organization, name every civil rights leader in the black and white documentaries, and trumpet the ideals of civil disobedience and nonviolence until I’m blue in the face. In fact, I’m hoping to be a public defender and work towards criminal justice reform.
None of this matters to some people. Because I am a Jew and a Zionist, I work towards the betterment of the world, and because I am a Jew and a Zionist, my efforts are disregarded. How can advocating for the safety and self-determination of my own people be controversial when my advocacy for other people is accepted, even taken for granted?
"To explain antisemitism is to give it what it most desires: legitimacy. And I will not do that."
As I try to explain the antisemitic, misogynist, and violent tirades that have flowed my way, I realize that to explain them is to understand them, and to understand them suggests that they hold some validity. To explain antisemitism is to give it what it most desires: legitimacy. And I will not do that. I will continue to work for righteous causes because it is the right thing to do, whether they want me to or not.
I can’t invalidate the people whose causes I take up, people who, whether or not they are antisemites or anti-Zionists, advance legitimate causes. However, I also can’t let them hijack the language of equality for their own purposes and apply their own definitions of justice. There is an important difference between tikkun olam, repairing the world, and shouldering the blame for all of the world’s problems. As a Jew, I work to right injustices whether or not I have caused them, and as a Zionist, I fight for every group’s right to safety and self-determination.
If you were the witness or victim of antisemitism, please join WJC's #SpeakOut campaign and share your story with us by clicking on the picture below: