Does the first amendment protect threats to Jews through social media?

When does Free Speech end and Hate Speech begin on social media?  

Cindy Grosz

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When people use social media platforms to vocalize Jewish hate, and hide behind “free speech,” there’s lots more behind it...

When the founding fathers wrote about free speech and First Amendment Rights in the United States Of America, did they mean we all have the right to openly speak up about hate to the point of threats, violence and potential harm, even death?

Last month, Siggy Flicker, reality television star, best selling author and a public figure supporting Israel. became the target of social media hate.  The reality show she had been a part of, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, had its season premiere.  It was inevitable that gossip columns, established journalists and fans of the show would remark publicly about Flicker’s absence from the new season.  She expected that.  All public figures are topics of discussion about previous work.  However, she did not expect what also showed up on social media.

Since leaving the show last spring, when a main storyline included a joke about Hitler, Flicker has been focusing her energies on fighting anti-Semitism and hate against Israel.  She has worked directly with the Israeli Embassy and Consulate General’s offices in New York. She has been a featured speaker and awardee from multiple Zionist and Jewish organizations.  She has toured Israel and is leading tours to her birthplace.  Flicker was born during The Six Day War in Jerusalem. This was the storyline she was born into.

Flicker is the daughter of Dr. Mordecai Paldiel, a Holocaust survivor, a renowned scholar, author, and leading expert on rescue during the Holocaust. He is the former Director of Israel’s Holocaust authority – the Department of the Righteous at Yad Vashem, a position he held for 24 years. Paldiel is the author of eleven books and still tours and lectures about the Righteous Among the Nations and the significance of documenting the rescue of Jews by non-Jews during the Holocaust.  He also lectures on the importance of honoring those rescuers as role models for outstanding human behavior.

To date, Flicker’s father is responsible for honoring over 18,000 Righteous Gentiles from all over the world, including the Catholic Priest who saved his family.

Had I known President Trump was honoring Holocaust survivors at the White House Hanukkah Party, I would have made sure The First Lady included him.

What happened instead was not expected —Flicker’s teenage daughter was threatened and bullied on the Gab website.  The young woman was subjected to vile words about herself and.....Israel and Jews.  Surprise, Surprise!

Unfortunately, This was not the first underage family member of a Jewish star to be the target of hate and threats. Another Jewish reality star’s daughter’s social media had also been the target of anti-Semitism when she went on a teen tour to Israel.

Ultimately, it seems like it doesn’t matter who the person is, the hate always ends up attacking Jews and Israel.

This subject is close to me, as many of you have followed the attacks on me from a political wannabe and her Jewish-hating followers, who use Gab as an outlet to expose their dislike of our people and Jewish homeland.

Luckily, I have been totally vindicated, but not without the assistance of security and being put in awkward situations.  I had to explain why Vicki Paladino’s volunteers were calling personal relationships of mine and defaming my character and professionalism.

.Gab’s website’s hosting providers, including PayPal, GoDaddy and Medium terminated their relationship with it..  Gab also announced on Twitter that Joyent, Gab's hosting provider, terminated its service.

GoDaddy pulled the plug on Gab after it was revealed that Robert Bowers, the gunman who allegedly killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, had an account on Gab where he regularly shared violently racist content. When it returned after a brief absence, Gab was filled with remarks hating Israel and Jews.  Gab came back online on November 4, 2018, after agreed to host the domain.

Several of the Proud Boy members are also associated with the Gab website

Recently, it was made public that the Federal Bureau Of Investigations, ( FBI ) had categorized the Proud Boys as “an extremist group with ties to white nationalism”, in a briefing to Washington state law enforcement.  Both of the “celebrities” tied to this group, founder Gavin McInnes and Milo Yiannopoulos, stated they were resigning from the group. In a blogpost, Yiannopoulos said he had been “instructed by my lawyers to add my voice to that of Gavin McInnes, the founder of the fraternal men’s organization, and announce that I am publicly dissociating myself with the club”.

Gab and The Proud Boys might have started out with good intentions of allowing people an outlet to be heard, and have their free speech rights protected. But then, extremists took control.

AND THAT IS THE POINT... when does Free Speech end and Hate Speech begin?  Do you think that people who hate Jews only hate Jews?  Probably not.

Rumors in New York are that Vickie Paladino, who lost a race in November, is thinking about running for Public Advocate in a special election in February, 2019.  She has already attacked one of her potential rivals as being gay and a cocaine abuser.  And the hate expands!

Funny, I too was attacked by one of her followers for being a coke addict on social media.  At first, I thought it was a typo, thinking they meant to write cake addict.  That, I could agree with, as witnessed by the many Sufganiot I ate this week. Then more followed, and it was no longer a laughing matter.  This follower is now seeking a political position himself within a Republican Club in NY.  What should be said about individuals, organizations and donors that volunteer time, efforts and money to people like this?

At what point do we stop and question those who claim to be “legitimate” and “reputable”  and call them out for their what they are? Haters! Opportunists! Liars!  And when is it time to investigate groups and businesses that draw the line on free speech as opposed to hate, threats and/violence?

What might seem like Innocent words and actions from total strangers encourages others who are far from innocent. Is it any coincidence that young yeshiva boys are being victimized walking the streets in Forest Hills or Flatbush in New York in broad daylight? Children, just like Siggy Flicker’s teenagers.  Flicker’s daughter has the advantage of a mother with a public platform and fans that defend her.  She also has the means to secure her family.

This week we witnessed political foes from around the world join voices and hands for the funeral of President George Herbert Walker Bush.

We also saw the re-release of  Schindler’s List, commemorating the 25th Anniversary of its original release.  Director Steven Spielberg said in an interview with NBC News that the re-release couldn’t come at a more appropriate time, saying that “there is more at stake today than even back then."

While I personally don’t agree with his political views, I couldn’t agree more about this statement.

We should all agree that there is a line between free speech in contrast to hate speech and fight the hate in our local communities, all political parties,and the arts as well as within our personal social circles - internationally.

Cindy Grosz can be reached at