MPs: Internet Restraining Order for Anti-Semitism

British MPs push to stop anti-Semitism online through 'restraining orders' - and through government funding for Jews' security.

Tova Dvorin,

Anti-Israel rally (illustration)
Anti-Israel rally (illustration)

Anti-Semitism on social media is thriving, according to studies released last year, with 83% of Israeli teenagers experiencing anti-Semitic bullying online in 2014 and Britain's Community Security Trust recording 140 anti-Semitic remarks on social media from January to August of that year. 

But one MP watchdog group is working to reverse the trend - and is urging lawmakers to issue "asbos," or Antisocial Behavior Orders, to clamp down on the violence within the UK.

"Asbos" - effectively, restraining orders - are typically issued to sex offenders in the UK, but advocates for the fight against anti-Semitism argue that the term applies just as well to perpetuators of hate crimes. 

The All Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into anti-Semitism, a group of MPs, released a damning report on anti-Semitic violence online this week, the Daily Mail reports Monday. The group has called on the Crown Prosecution Service to issue offenders with prevention orders to keep anti-Semites from using the internet. 

"There is an allowance in the law for banning or blocking individuals from certain aspects of internet communication in relation to sexual offences [sic]," the report, an examination of anti-Semitism on Twitter, states. "Informal feedback we have received from policy experts indicates that this is a potential area of exploration for prosecutors in relation to hate crime."

"If it can be proven in a detailed way that someone has made a considered and determined view to exploit various online networks to harm and perpetrate hate crimes against others then the accepted principles, rules and restrictions that are relevant to sex offences must surely apply."

The panel called for "urgent" action from the government and Jewish community leaders to make up for the gaps in reporting abusive posts on the social media network, noting that civil society must aid overburdened social media companies in reversing the anti-Semitic trend. 

Among the horrifying findings: the fact that "Hitler" and "Holocaust" were among the top 35 trending Twitter hashtags last year - amid a flurry of Holocaust-related Twitter incidents that go unpunished

Twitter has rapidly become a prime means of spreading hate, even outside the realm of anti-Semitism. Last month, an expert at the Brookings Institute found that over 18,000 Twitter accounts linked to Islamic State (ISIS) have been suspended in recent months; there are at least 45,000 Twitter accounts used by ISIS supporters total, according to that estimate. 

But the report has included other measures to protect Britain's Jewish community as well, including calling for government funding for synagogue security, ensuring a balanced view on the Middle East in classrooms, and establishing an independent council on anti-Semitism. 

The report has been well-received by Jewish community leaders and government officials alike; Prime Minister David Cameron called it "hugely important." 

"Tackling anti-Semitism goes right to the heart of what we stand for as a country," he said. 

Anti-Semitism in the UK reached an all-time high in 2014, with 1,1168 anti-Semitic incidents recorded last year alone.