Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah LipstadtShahar Azran

Deborah Lipstadt, the US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, on Tuesday welcomed the announcement by Facebook parent company Meta that it will classify the use of the term “Zionist” as a euphemism for “Jew” as antisemitic and as Tier 1 hate speech.

In a post on social media site X, Lipstadt said that Meta’s announcement “is an important step in mitigating the rampant spread of online antisemitism. It also recognizes the alarming, widespread use of ‘Zionists’ as a cover for expressing hatred of Jews in general.”

“Dialogue between governments, the private sector, and civil society is crucial in turning the tide of rising hate, and we are proud to have had Meta and other social media companies around the table at the Symposium for Countering Online Antisemitism that my office convened earlier last month,” she added.

Meta’s statement earlier on Tuesday read, "After hearing input and looking at research from different perspectives, we will now remove speech targeting 'Zionists' in several areas where our process showed that the speech tends to be used to refer to Jews and Israelis with dehumanizing comparisons, calls for harm, or denials of existence."

It added, "We have determined that the existing policy guidance does not sufficiently address the ways people are using the term 'Zionist' online and offline."

Meta stated that "Going forward, we will remove content attacking 'Zionists' when it is not explicitly about the political movement, but instead uses antisemitic stereotypes, or threatens other types of harm through intimidation, or violence directed against Jews or Israelis under the guise of attacking Zionists, including: Claims about running the world or controlling the media; Dehumanizing comparisons, such as comparisons to pigs, filth, or vermin; Calls for physical harm; Denials of existence; Mocking for having a disease."

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) welcomed Meta’s announcement and said, "This landmark decision, following years of advocacy by the WJC, its affiliated Jewish communities, and other organizations, marks a significant step in combating the veiled antisemitism that has proliferated under the guise of political discourse and has skyrocketed since October 7."

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said, “Meta’s decision is a much-needed advancement in our ongoing fight against online antisemitism and hatred. By recognizing and addressing the misuse of the term 'Zionist,' Meta is taking a bold stand against those who seek to mask their hatred of Jews.”

“We appreciate that Meta has truly listened to the voices of Jewish communities that we work with. This policy change will help create a safer, more respectful online environment for everyone. I hope all other platforms will follow Meta’s leadership and take similar action,” added Lauder.