The UK social media platform where neo-Nazis can view terror atrocities

Of interest:

A UK-registered technology company with British directors is behind a global platform used by neo-Nazis to upload footage of racist killings.

BitChute, which was used in the dissemination of far-right propaganda during the protests in London and elsewhere this month, has hosted films of terror attacks and thousands of antisemitic videos which have been viewed over three million times.

The platform has also hosted several videos from the proscribed far-right terrorist group National Action, now taken down.

Concerns about BitChute have been flagged in a new report, Hate Fuel: The hidden online world fuelling far right terror, produced by the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity set up to combat antisemitism.

In response to the report, the company, based in Newbury, Berkshire, said in a tweet that it blocks “any such videos, including incitement to violence”.

But the platform was still showing the full footage of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings and an attack on a German synagogue until the Observerbrought the videos to its attention.

The far-right activist Tommy Robinson has a channel on BitChute with more than 25,000 subscribers.

When far-right protesters recently descended on London and several other cities, BitChute’s comment facility carried numerous racist postings on Robinson’s channel, many of them making derogatory claims about George Floyd, whose death after being restrained by police in the US city of Minneapolis has sparked worldwide protests.

“Extremists know that they can post anything on BitChute and it won’t be removed by the platform unless they are forced to do so,” said Dave Rich, director of policy at the CST. “Some of the terrorist videos we found on BitChute had been on the site for over a year and had been watched tens of thousands of times.”

He added: “It’s no surprise, therefore, that the website is a cesspit of vile racist, antisemitic neo-Nazi videos and comments. This is why there need to be legal consequences for website hosts who refuse to take responsibility for moderating and blocking this content themselves.”

BitChute is one of several platforms alarming those who monitor the far right.

Another, Gab, created in 2016, has a dedicated network of British users called “Britfam” that has 4,000 members and which far-right extremists use to circulate racism, antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

Last week the chief executive of Gab, Andrew Torba, sent an email to users attacking what he alleged was the “anti-white, anti-Trump and anti-conservative bias” on more mainstream social media platforms.

Source: The UK social media platform where neo-Nazis can view terror atrocities

ICYMI – UK: Anti-Semitic abuse at record high, says charity

Of note:

The number of anti-Semitic incidents logged in Britain last year hit record levels yet again amid accusations the opposition Labour Party had failed to tackle the issue within its ranks, a Jewish advisory body said on Thursday.

The Community Security Trust (CST), which advises Britain’s estimated 280,000 Jews on security matters, said there had been 1,805 incidents in 2019, a rise of 7% and the fourth consecutive year the figure had reached a new high.

CST chief executive David Delew said the record came as no surprise and the organization believed the real number was likely to be far higher.

“It is clear that both social media and mainstream politics are places where anti-Semitism and racism need to be driven out, if things are to improve in the future,” he said.

World leaders warned last month of a growing tide of anti-Jewish sentiment, driven both by far-right white supremacists and those from the far-left, as they commemorated victims of the Holocaust in World War Two.

In Britain, the CST said there was an increase in incidents in months when Labour’s problems with anti-Semitism were in the news.

Ever since veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, an ardent supporter of Palestinian rights, became leader in 2015, the party has faced accusations that it has failed to stem anti-Semitism among some members.

Corbyn, who is stepping down as leader in April, has said anti-Semitism is “vile and wrong” but the party is now under investigation by Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Last February, a number of Labour lawmakers left the party citing the issue as a reason, while ahead of December’s national election, Britain’s chief rabbi said Corbyn was unfit to be prime minister.

Of the total number of incidents, 224 were connected to Labour, said the CST, which has collated such data since 1984.

“It is hard to precisely disaggregate the impact of the continuing Labour anti-Semitism controversy upon CST’s statistics, but it clearly has an important bearing,” the report said.

The charity said the main reason for the overall increase in incidents was a sharp rise in online anti-Semitism.

But there were also 157 assaults – a 27% increase on 2018 – with almost 50% of these occurring in just three areas of the country – Barnet and Hackney in London and Salford in northern England which are home to some of the largest Jewish communities.

A rise of intolerance after Britons voted in the 2016 referendum to leave the European Union and the Brexit discourse since, which brought nationalism and immigration to the fore, had also led an atmosphere where people might have felt able to express their “hatred of otherness”, the report said.

Source: Anti-Semitic abuse at record high, says charity

Jeremy Corbyn concedes Labour has failed to address antisemitism problem | The Guardian

Certain blindness to have let this issue fester for so long:

Jeremy Corbyn has issued his strongest condemnation of antisemitism so far as he came under intense pressure from his own backbenchers and the wider Jewish community over his failure to tackle antisemitism in the Labour party.

He was forced to step up his response during the day after an extraordinary open letter was published on Sunday night by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), accusing him of “siding with antisemites” and calling for supporters to stage a show of solidarity outside parliament as the parliamentary Labour party held its weekly meeting on Monday evening.

At the PLP meeting, backbenchers denied there was any kind of coup attempt. Wes Streeting MP, often a critic of Corbyn’s, said: “No one’s calling for a leadership election. We just want leadership.”

The pressure from backbench MPs began building on Friday when Luciana Berger challenged Corbyn over supportive comments he posted to the artist behind an antisemitic mural. It came to a head on Monday morning when John Mann, chair of the all-party antisemitism group, tweeted that the Labour party “ceases to have a reason for existence if it cannot stand up against discrimination and racism”. He said the party was “rotten to the core”.

His criticism was backed by the veteran former minister Dame Margaret Hodge, who said Corbyn had allowed himself to become “the poster boy of antisemites everywhere”.

As hundreds gathered at Westminster, including dozens of Labour MPs and peers, and a small group of rival demonstrators from Jewish Votes for Labour, Corbyn issued a “sincere apology” that acknowledged that his previous responses had been inadequate.

“I recognise that antisemitism has surfaced within the Labour party, and has too often been dismissed as simply a matter of a few bad apples,” he said on Twitter.

“This has caused pain and hurt to Jewish members of our party and to the wider Jewish community in Britain. I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused, and pledge to redouble my efforts to bring this anxiety to an end.”

Corbyn’s previous apology merely recognised that there were “pockets” of antisemitism in the party. That was rejected as inadequate by Jonathan Goldstein of the JLC, who said the Labour leader had become a figurehead for antisemitism.

Speaking at the solidarity protest outside parliament, the former Labour MP Gillian Merron, who is now chief executive of the Board of Deputies, said Corbyn had only made concessions because he had been forced into it by their actions.

“People here are angry and sad,” she said. “Nobody dreamt they would be in this position. The Jewish community has had enough and we are joined in that feeling by many many people inside and out of the Labour party.”

Later, Louise Ellman, who is a former chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, told BBC Newsnight it was “unprecedented” that the mainstream Jewish community had to take to the streets to protest at antisemitism in a mainstream political party.

In the second letter, Corbyn expressly apologised for failing to study the content of the antisemitic mural in the East End of London before posting supportive comments to its artist.

Jewish leaders claimed in their letter, released on Sunday night, that the controversy proved the Labour leader “cannot seriously contemplate antisemitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far-left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities”.

Countering the charge, Corbyn says in his letter: “While the forms of antisemitism expressed on the far right of politics are easily detectable, such as Holocaust denial, there needs to be a deeper understanding of what constitutes antisemitism in the labour movement. Sometimes this evil takes familiar forms – the east London mural which has caused such understandable controversy is an example.

“The idea of Jewish bankers and capitalists exploiting the workers of the world is an old antisemitic conspiracy theory … I am sorry for not having studied the content of the mural more closely before wrongly questioning its removal in 2012.”

In a much more nuanced recognition of the forms that antisemitism can take, the letter also accepts that anti-Zionism and antisemitism have become conflated.

“Criticism of Israel, particularly in relation to the continuing dispossession of the Palestinian people, cannot be avoided. Nevertheless, comparing Israel or the actions of Israeli governments to the Nazis… and using abusive phraseology about supporters of Israel such as ‘Zio’ all constitute aspects of contemporary antisemitism.”

He also promises that the party will implement in full the “overdue” recommendations of the Chakrabarti report,which was published nearly two years ago.

Andy McDonald, the shadow transport minister, insisted that action would be taken. He pledged to speed up the “far too slow” complaints process. He was unable to say how many complaints had been successfully dealt with.

via Jeremy Corbyn concedes Labour has failed to address antisemitism problem | Politics | The Guardian

A related article on the extent of antisemitism in the UK (CST report):

The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that works with Jewish community organisations and police forces, recorded 1,382 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 – the highest total ever.

Of these, 145 incidents were classed as “assaults” – up from 108 the year before. But the most common type of incident was “verbal abuse directed at random Jewish people in public” – being shouted at in the street.

Meanwhile, almost one in five incidents involved the use of social media.

One tweet sent to a Jewish charity appeared to show a rollercoaster above a concentration camp. Another social media user posted messages saying “Hitler was right”.

The CST said there had been three incidents involving damage to, or desecration of, a Jewish cemetery; eight involving stones or bricks being thrown; and eight involving eggs being thrown at property.

The charity also cited improvements in the reporting of anti-Semitic incidents – but said it believed there was still “significant under-reporting”.

Anti-Semitism incidents chart

Earlier this month, the former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks told the Jewish News newspaper: “Any political party has to adopt a zero-tolerance to anti-Semitism. If they fail to do so, they are a danger not only to themselves but to the country and all inhabitants.”

Lord Sacks has previously said that anti-Semitism is an ancient hatred and a contemporary warning sign that community relations within a culture are endangered.

It is why the Jewish community is inviting members of other faiths, and of none, to join in the chorus: “Enough is Enough.”


Antisemitic incidents in UK at all-time high

Latest UK data – not police-reported but CST plays a similar role as B’nai Brith does here:

Antisemitic hate incidents have reached a record level in the UK, with the Jewish community targeted at a rate of nearly four times a day last year, figures indicate.

There were 1,382 antisemitic incidents recorded nationwide in 2017 by the Community Security Trust.

This was the highest tally that the trust, a charity that monitors antisemitism, has registered for a calendar year since it began gathering such data in 1984. The figure rose by 3%, compared with a total, in 2016, of 1,346 incidents – a tally that itself was a record annual total.

There was no obvious single cause behind the trend, the trust said. “Often increases in antisemitic incidents have been attributable to reactions to specific trigger events that cause identifiable, short-term, spikes in incident levels. However, this was not the case in 2017. Instead, it appears that the factors that led to a general, sustained, high level of antisemitic incidents in 2016 continued throughout much of 2017.”

The report pointed to a rise in all forms of hate crime following the EU referendum as well as publicity surrounding alleged antisemitism in the Labour party. These factors may have caused higher levels of incidents as well as encouraged more reporting of antisemitic incidents from victims and witnesses in the Jewish community, the trust said.

The trust’s figures showed a 34% increase in the number of violent antisemitic assaults, from 108 in 2016 to 145 in 2017. The most common single type of incident in 2017 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at Jewish people in public.

There was a fall in the number of incidents that involved social media, from 289 in 2016 to 247 last year. Three-quarters of all the antisemitic incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, home to the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.

The trust’s chief executive, David Delew, said: “Hatred is rising and Jewish people are suffering as a result. This should concern everybody because it shows anger and division that threaten all of society. We have the support of government and police, but prosecutions need to be more visible and more frequent.”

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, said antisemitism was a “despicable form of abuse” which had “absolutely no place in British society”.

She said: “I welcome this report’s findings that the rise in reported incidents partly reflects the improving response to these horrendous attacks and better information sharing between the CST and police forces around the UK. But even one incident is one too many, and any rise in incidents is clearly concerning, which is why this government will continue its work protecting the Jewish community and other groups from antisemitism and hate crime.”

The shadow communities secretary, Andrew Gwynne, said the findings were extremely concerning and emphasised “just how important it is that we all make a conscious effort to call out and confront antisemitism”.

A spokesperson for advocacy group Hope Not Hate said the levels of antisemitism remained unacceptably high and it was concerning to see that incidents had not declined.

Stephen Silverman, director of investigations and enforcement at the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said the trust figures were indicative of official 2017 police statistics. “Antisemitic crime has been rising dramatically since 2014 and that rise is not explained by an increase in reporting, and we have seen no noticeable impact from Brexit,” he said.

Silverman added: “We believe that Jews are being singled out disproportionately and with increasing violence due to the spread of antisemitic conspiracy myths originating from Islamists, the far-left and far-right, which society is failing to address, as evidenced by the ongoing disgraceful situation in the Labour party, and because the Crown Prosecution Service declines to prosecute so often that antisemites no longer fear any consequences to their actions.”

Until the criminal justice system and political parties stopped “paying lip service to antisemitism,” he said, “the threat to the security of British Jews was at risk of reaching crisis point”.New data this week revealed that hundreds of hate crimes have been committed at or near schools and colleges in the last two years, most linked to race and ethnicity.

Source: Antisemitic incidents in UK at all-time high

Antisemitism: Latest figures from UK and France

Latest data from UK and France:

The number of antisemitic incidents in Britain fell by more than a fifth last year — but 2015 was still the third worst year on record.

Figures published by the Community Security Trust revealed there were 924 incidents of Jew hatred last year.

It represented a drop of 22 per cent compared to 2014, when, following the Gaza conflict, there was a significant spike resulting in 1,179 reported cases.

Home Secretary Theresa May said there were “still too many cases” of antisemitism in Britain in 2015. CST chief executive David Delew warned that the latest figures were worse than had been expected.

Incidents included two telephoned bomb threats to Jewish schools in London and Manchester, Jewish schoolboys being spat at while visiting a friend at a Manchester hospital, a cyclist throwing a stone at a Jewish man, a swastika being daubed on a Jewish home in Bournemouth, and similar graffiti at a Liverpool cemetery.

CST said there had been no major trigger incident last year, but January and February 2015 saw the most reports of antisemitism following the murders at the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris and the attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen.

The charity, which has charted antisemitism in Britain since 1984, said it was unclear whether better reporting mechanisms or a genuine rise in Jew hatred played a bigger role in the total number, which ranked 2015 behind only 2014 and 2009 for total incidents.

Source: CST figures reveal 2015 was third worst year for antisemitism | The Jewish Chronicle

From France:

A total of 59 per cent of French people think members of the Jewish community are at least partially responsible for anti-Semitism, a survey conducted by the Fondation de Judaisme Français and Ipsos has suggested.

The foundation surveyed 1,005 people who “constituted a sample representative of the French population” online over nine days.

Respondents were asked whether they thought Jews held part of the responsibility for anti-Semitism in France.
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Of the 59 per cent that answered yes, three per cent thought they had ‘a very important part’ and 14 per cent said they had a ‘significant’ part.

Over half of respondents said Jewish people had a lot of power and were richer than the average French person.

A total of 13 per cent of respondents thought there were too many Jewish people in France, despite the Jewish community only making up one per cent of the population.

Reported anti-Semitic crimes in France have more than doubled between 2014 and 2015 according to a report by Human Rights First, who stated that the crimes were becoming “increasingly violent”.

Approximately 8,000 French Jews migrated to Israel last year, making France the highest source of immigrants to Israel, and many more have migrated to the UK and Canada.

Board of Deputies of British Jews Senior Vice President Richard Verber said: “it is troubling to consider that more than one in 10 French people believe there are ‘too many Jews’ in the country.

“The sad reality today is that visibly-Jewish French citizens are subject to a range of disturbing reactions, from latent anti-Semitism to acts of extreme violence – a number of which have resulted in deaths. For many, this has led to a decision that Jewish life is no longer viable in the country.

Increase in UK anti-Semitism this year ‘due to better reporting’

A reminder that a number of different factors influence statistics, including better reporting, making it harder to isolate underlying trends (CST is better than most in identifying these factors):

A 53 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain during the first six months of 2015 can be ascribed to greater communal awareness of the problem coupled with better reporting, the Community Security Trust reported on Thursday.

There have been 473 reported incidents this year, compared to 309 for the same period last year, and 223 in the first half of 2013.

Despite the rising trend, the figures do not come close to the 629 incidents reported in 2009 – the year in which most of the fighting in Operation Cast Lead (against Hamas in Gaza) took place.

The CST monitors anti-Semitism and provides security for Britain’s Jewish community.

Increase in UK anti-Semitism this year ‘due to better reporting’ – Diaspora – Jerusalem Post.

The Difficult Work Of Measuring Anti-Semitism In Europe | FiveThirtyEight

Good piece on the challenges of collecting hard reliable data, in the absence of police-reported hate crimes (which both UK and Canada do), particularly with respect to social media:

Social media is one factor that complicates comparisons over time. One in 6 of the incidents this year through June were abusive comments on social media, a forum that scarcely existed a decade ago.

Rich said CST [UK’s Jewish Community Security Trust] sets a high bar for counting an anti-Semitic post on social media: It must have been reported to the group, and must originate from or be directed to someone in the U.K. “We’ve had to think quite a lot about how to develop processes for dealing with this,” Rich said. “Potentially the number of anti-Semitic tweets and Facebook comments could completely overwhelm our incident reports and make them completely meaningless.”

Groups like CST help supplement government statistics on hate crimes, which are inconsistently kept in the European Union. Only five of the 28 EU countries, including the U.K., have comprehensive data on racist crimes and hate crimes against Jews, Muslims and Roma people, according to a December analysis by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, or FRA.

“FRA has reiterated the necessity for EU member states to improve their data-collection methods,” Katya Andrusz, a spokeswoman for FRA, said in an email. “The agency has also called for member states to take measures to increase trust in the police and other authorities, as the two big challenges in gauging the extent of anti-Semitism are underrecording and underreporting, i.e. even when countries have the mechanisms in place to note the number of anti-Semitic incidents taking place, most victims don’t report them.”

Many of the articles about the rise in anti-Semitism cited a 2012 online survey of Jews in eight EU countries, conducted by FRA, finding that 2 in 3 respondents said anti-Semitism is a problem in their country. The survey, though, was the first of its kind, so it can’t say whether European Jews were reporting more anti-Semitism in 2012 than they had before. FRA is considering conducting another survey in several years. “There are preliminary plans to do another one, precisely for the reason you say” — i.e. that there is no trend data, Andrusz said. She added, “It’s impossible to say whether anti-Semitism is statistically on the rise in the EU, as the data simply doesn’t exist.”

The Difficult Work Of Measuring Anti-Semitism In Europe | FiveThirtyEight.