Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt, rabbi of Park East Synagogue in New York City and his wife Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt recently returned to New York from a vacation in France.
While still sitting on the plane on the tarmac at Newark Airport, Avital turned on her phone and saw that several people had texted her a familiar image - a photo of her husband. However, the background of the picture was shocking - her husband's photo was superimposed on an image of a "Boycott Israel" sign on a Twitter profile with the name David Goldberg, with a bio stating “Orthodox Jew against the apartheid state of Israel.”
Avital wrote an opinion article about the incident for The New York Times - published on Thursday - in which she wrote that her husband's photo was not the only one stolen. She said that the identity theft was carried out by 4chan, a white supremacist online forum, who are striving to cause conflict within the Jewish community.
“We must create a massive movement of fake Jewish profiles on Facebook, Twitter, etc.,” an anonymous user posted, according to the Times article. “Since Jews shapeshift into whites anytime they want, we can do the same to them.”
The 4chan user who initiated the movement wrote that his goal was to “subvert Jews themselves" and “create infighting as righty Jews will accuse lefty Jews of being fake profiles. This creates more division.” He also told supporters: “You also have the benefit of labeling anyone an anti-Semite who disagrees with you. Use this to your advantage.”
Avital wrote in her article that trying to stir up infighting within the Jewish people is an ancient idea, going back the Roman era when the emperor Vespasian delayed attacking Jerusalem, secure in the knowledge that Jewish infighting would cause Jerusalem to collapse on its own. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened and the Romans ultimately conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the second Temple and sent the Jews into its current exile.