The Ifat organization, a news clipping and media monitoring service, on Sunday released a study showing that a large number of the “talkbacks” on Israeli news and opinion sites are hateful, racist, and just plain mean. Among the favorite targets: Hareidi Jews, residents of Judea and Samaria, Arabs, and illegal African immigrants.
A report in Ma'ariv Sunday, quoting the Ifat report, said that the organization examined 4,000 reader responses on news and opinion sites discussing Israeli political and social issues. At least a third of the responses, which were chosen from articles and from sites representative of internet news in Israel, were found to be tinged with hate or racism.
Thirty two percent of the hateful posts were directed at residents of Judea and Samaria and 19% against Hareidim. Surprisingly, intellectuals were also high on the list of “the hated,” with 18% of negative posts targeting them. “Hateful” posts included name-calling, wishes for the death or other misfortune happening to the subjects of the story, and outright cursing.
Several Israeli politicians have called for curbs on the freedom of sites to publish hate posts, which some say incite people to violence and create animosity among large groups. Several MKs have theorized that many of the posts on the news sites are not the independent opinions of readers, but part of organized campaigns by interest groups to promote or inhibit a law, project, or agenda. In any event, news sites have refused to limit the freedom of readers to write almost anything they want, and the Knesset has yet to take action on the matter.