Roughly 100 schools, congregations and Jewish organizations have signed an open letter to Elon Musk denouncing antisemitism on Twitter. Numerous racists and bigots who had been banned from the social media platform have been reinstated since Musk took over.
The letter was first published on the Union for Reform Journalism’s website several weeks ago. Monday marked its official release and unveiling of the signees. While many of the organizations that signed on are affiliated with the Reform movement, the list also includes others belonging to other denominations or are non-affiliated. While most organizations are based in the U.S., the Reform Jewish Community of Canada has also signed on.
Others who signed include political organizations such as J Street, the American Conference of Cantors, several Jewish organized labor groups and the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.
The diversity of the groups illustrates the widespread concern over the explosion of hate on Twitter since Musk’s purchase in October, said Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism associate director Barbara Weinstein. The letter will be sent to Musk directly as well as circulated on social media.
Weinstein said the link between the dissemination of online hate and real world violence is undeniable. Antisemitic crimes have spiked in recent years, including several acts of violence in synagogues. On Sunday, a molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of a New Jersey Reform congregation.
“We’ve had some internal conversations about what we could do to draw attention to the issue and even though we could have done something just as the URJ, or the Reform Movement, we thought it would be more powerful and impactful if we did something that spoke with the strength of the organized Jewish community,” she said.
Under Musk’s leadership, many prominent neo-Nazis, anti-Jewish conspiracy theorists and other prominent bigots have had their accounts, which often have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, restored. Some have been suspended again after immediately engaging in hate speech upon being allowed back on the platform.
While Musk has described himself as a “free speech absolutist,” he has also reportedly told investors he does not want Twitter to devolve into a “hellscape.” But the URJ’s letter points out that Musk himself has tweeted out problematic content, including images of a Nazi soldier and memes involving Pepe the Frog, a popular alt-right mascot.
Weinstein said the hope is that the letter will raise awareness and let both Musk and policymakers know “that we are watching, that we’re not going to be silenced” and that Jews will not “stand idly by as this platform is used to spread hate and antisemitism with potentially devastating consequences for our community.
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