May 2021



On May 10, 2021, Hamas, the fundamentalist Islamist terrorist group that governs the Gaza Strip, fired six missiles toward Jerusalem. They did so under the pretext that they were “defending Al Aqsa mosque” and named their operation “Sword of Jerusalem.”

In response, Israel began striking targets in the Gaza Strip. Israel called the operation Operation Guardian of the Walls. By the end of the war, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired over 4300 missiles aimed at Israeli civilians; around 680 of them landed within the Gaza Strip, endangering the Gazan population. 

According to the Hamas Health Ministry, 248 Palestinians were killed, around 128 of whom were civilians, including 66 children. Hamas did not account for deaths caused by misfired Palestinian rockets. Meanwhile, 16 Israeli civilians were killed. 

Since Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, there have been four major conflicts between Israel and Hamas.

However, the outbreak of violence on May 2021 was unique in the sense that it was the first time that this happened with social media existing in the manner that it does today. The prior outbreak took place in 2014, at a time when Tiktok didn’t exist, Twitter was nowhere near as politically virulent as it is today, and Instagram was in its infancy. The effects on social media on the rhetoric surrounding the conflict is something I’ve wanted to address for a while, so I did some digging. 

After looking into it a bit more, I want to tell the Jewish community: you didn’t imagine it. May 2021 really was that bad. 



Antisemitism is very old. What is new is the speed at which it spreads today due to social media. Dangerous rhetoric that once took many years to get from one part of the globe to another can now reach half a world away in a matter of less than a second. 

Social media algorithms lend themselves to echo chambers, and unfortunately with antisemitism it is no different. A person in search for dog content will only be shown dog content, not cat content. Similarly, once a person is consuming antisemitic conspiracies online, the algorithms will never show them any content that combats those dangerous ideas. 

Online antisemitism is not contained to the internet; instead it translates to real life violence. This violence spans the political spectrum. The Kanye-white supremacists-BDS axis is a perfect and recent example of this. After Kanye made a series of antisemitic posts threatening violence against Jews last year, white supremacists linked to the white supremacist video sharing platform “Goyim TV” hung a banner over a bridge in Los Angeles proclaiming “Kanye was right.” Goyim TV had previously live-streamed the BDS “Mapping Project,” an online map created by a left-wing antisemite with the possible backing of Iran-affiliated organizations which locates “Zionist organizations” in Massachusetts, including Jewish summer camps, disability centers, nonprofits, and more.

Antisemitic hate crimes in the United States are the highest they have ever been since they first started being recorded in 1979. There is no doubt in my mind that this is mostly due to the proliferation of antisemitic discourse on social media. 



The viral disinformation circulating social media on May 2021 was deeply strategic. Many of the trending hashtags and posts, for example, were traced back to the Iranian regime and other extremist Islamist groups. Iran, if you are unaware, has been involved in a proxy war with Israel for decades and is a patron of both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Western leftists unknowingly shared these posts, believing them to be genuine. 

After Palestinians threw fireworks and a tree caught on fire outside Al Aqsa mosque — thankfully hurting no one — viral disinformation campaigns across social media claimed that Israel was destroying the mosque. Islamists made entirely false claims that Israel was “marking” Muslim homes; gullible western leftists believed that information to be legitimate and circulated it widely. 

This led people to tweet things such as “Yup, Zionists are Satanic! They have been planning to burn Al-Aqsa, to burn the Satanic temple of the anti-Christ/Dajjal!…Palestine belongs to Muslims, Christians, & the REAL Jews!” This tweet also drew upon the widely circulated disinformation accusing Jews of being foreign settler-colonialists in Palestine, which draws upon the white supremacist antisemitic conspiracy that today’s Jews are Khazarian converts to Judaism. 

A shocking number of celebrities and social justice accounts and organizations also shared disinformation, giving it a seal of “legitimacy” and thus expanding its reach. 



The post above was circulated widely, so much so that anyone who was on Instagram on May 2021 is likely familiar with it. Celebrities shared it. It was translated into a number of different languages. And it received half a million likes.

But it was full of disinformation. It made false claims such as:

  • the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in no way a religious conflict, when that is absolutely untrue (see my last post). 
  • there are “Palestinian Jews” living in Palestine, when there aren’t.
  • Israel oppresses Palestinian Jews, when it’s impossible for Israel to oppress Jews who literally don’t exist.*
  • Samaritans are Jews and Israel oppresses them. Not only are Samaritans not Jews, but in reality, Samaritans had to flee to Israel and to Israeli settlements in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria after Palestinian terrorists attacked them during the First Intifada. Samaritans are fully integrated into Israeli society and serve in the Israeli army. 
  • Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived in peace in Palestine before 1948. This is not true. Not only did Jews experience frequent massacres, but Jews and Christians lived as “dhimmis,” or second-class citizens subject to severe taxation.
  • Israel is responsible for the displacement of 7.2 million Palestinians. In reality, 750,000 Palestinians were displaced in the 1948 war. Even anti-Zionist researchers and historians agree that at least 360,000 of them left of their own accord. 
  • Israeli Jews are colonizers in Palestine, when Jews have had a continuous presence in the land for at least 3200 years, over 2500 years before Arabs conquered the land and over 5000 years before a Palestinian national identity formed. 

*obviously people with one Palestinian parent and one Jewish parent can exist, or Palestinians who have converted to Judaism. But the only Jews living in Palestinian-controlled areas are those who’ve been kidnapped by terrorist groups and are being held captive and tortured to this very moment. 



The line between disinformation about Zionism, Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and blatant antisemitism is very thin. This is because disinformation about Israel relies very heavily on the projection of antisemitic tropes onto the State of Israel, historical revisionism regarding the Jews and the roots of the conflict, and double standards.

For example, between May 7 and May 17, more than 17,000 posts were recorded employing Holocaust inversion, which is the tactic of equating Israel, Jews, and/or Zionists to Nazis. Holocaust inversion is revisionist on a number of levels — for example, it was the Palestinian Arab leadership that formed an alliance with the Nazis during World War II — and Holocaust revisionism is considered a form of Holocaust denial. 

Disinformation about the Jewish historical, ancestral, and cultural claim to the Land of Israel which depicts Israel as a settler-colonialist genocidal state soon gave way to blatantly antisemitic tweets and other posts such as “I would have killed all the Jews of the world…but I kept some to show the world why I killed them - Adolf Hitler.” 

Some of the most virulent antisemitic discourse was recorded in the viral hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah — which, once again, relied on a disinformation campaign conveniently ignoring the history of how Jordan expelled Jews from their homes in 1948 and gave them to Palestinian refugees, or the fact that the evictions were taking place because the Palestinian tenants hadn’t paid rent to the homeowners. 

Islamists, left-wing antisemites, white supremacists, and well-meaning people all circulated the exact same posts espousing antisemitic rhetoric. 



Despite anti-Zionists’ insistence that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism, historically, violence between Israelis and Palestinians has always spilled into violence against Jews in the Diaspora. 

For example, as violence between the Arabs and the Jews of Mandatory Palestine intensified in the 1930s and 1940s, Jews across the Middle East were targeted in a number of retaliatory massacres. In 1956, during the Suez Crisis between Israel and Egypt, Egypt retaliated against its Jewish population, arresting and torturing members of the community. In 1967, in response to the Six Day War, life for Jews in Russia and Poland became intolerable, culminating with the expulsion of most remaining Jews from Poland.  

May 2021 played out similarly. More than 10 antisemitic hate crimes were recorded around the world daily. 

Antisemitism in the United States in May of 2021 rose 148 percent compared to May 2020. Antisemitic hate crimes were recorded in all 50 states. Jews were violently physically assaulted in the streets of New York and Los Angeles. Antisemitic hate crimes that were explicitly anti-Zionist in nature nearly doubled in 2021, compared to 2020. For example, on May 18, a group carrying Palestinian flags assaulted Jews in a Los Angeles restaurant, going so far as to push one of the victims into the ground and kicking him while he was already down. 

Though antisemitism in May 2021 was alarming in the United States, in Europe, it was even worse. About 50 percent of the antisemitic incidents recorded that month took place in Europe, while 30 percent took place in the United States.

Most infamously, a convoy of cars carrying Palestinian flags drove through the streets of London while a loudspeaker shouted “fuck the Jews! Rape their daughters!”



The people who shared disinformation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in May 2021 were complicit in the real life violence that Jews across the world experienced that month.

I know most of us have friends (or former friends) who shared these posts. I am sure the people in our lives shared these posts with the best of intentions. But ultimately impact matters more than intent.

You can bury your head in the sand and deny your part in this. Or you can apologize and learn how to do better. Educate yourself on antisemitic tropes, stereotypes, and conspiracies, how they mutate to adapt to any given society, and how they are so often projected onto the world’s only Jewish state.

Learn about Jews not from fringe voices or non-Jews, but from the Jewish community. Learn about our history — and I’m not talking just about the Holocaust. Our 3000+ year history. Any Israel-Palestine post that distorts the Jewish experience is flawed at best or revisionist propaganda at worst. 

There are more people talking about Jews than there are Jews in the world. There are more antisemites than there are Jews in the world. This has always been the case, since the Romans blamed us for the death of Jesus. Antisemitism is known as the world’s oldest hatred for a reason, and its insidious. That’s how it has survived for so long. Just because everyone in your life is sharing something pertaining to us doesn’t mean that it is true. In fact, it’s more than likely not true. 

Israel-Palestine is complex and multilayered. Anyone that claims otherwise is lying to your face, and frankly, you are gullible to fall for it. The Middle East, and this tiny region in particular, has a bloody history spanning layers and layers of colonization. The conflict has religious elements, nationalist elements, geographic elements, ethnic elements, and more. If the brightest minds in the world haven’t been able to solve it for the past 75 years, I promise you that a single Instagram infographic isn’t going to tell you all that you need to know. 

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