High school student attacked on TikTok over Israel video

High school student attacked on TikTok over Israel video

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May 6, 2020

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Dear Friends,

As we’ve already seen, COVID-19 has not deterred antisemites from promulgating hateful rhetoric online. In fact, according to a major tech company that has been monitoring online activity, there has been a “clear spike in antisemitic hashtags used in relation to the outbreak,” such as #SorosVirus, #IsraelVirus and #NWOVirus. 

With this rise in antisemitism on social media, our Hasbara Fellows and High School Interns, who are proud and vocal advocates for the Jewish State, are being subjected to online harassment.

This was sadly the case for one of our high school interns Sabrina Silverstone, a student at Sir Robert Borden High School in Ottawa. In honour of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Sabrina posted a video of her recent trip to Israel on the popular video app TikTok. The innocuous clip of her travels around the Holy Land was accompanied by the caption, “Actual footage of my perfect summer in Israel.”

Within 24 hours of her post, Sabrina was shocked to discover that her page was inundated with hateful antisemitic comments, anti-Israel rhetoric, and worse. Rather than taking a defeatist attitude, Sabrina quickly alerted our Hasbara Canada High School Advisor, Pearl Gasner (née Kraft). Together, they ensured that screenshots of the hateful comments were captured and reported. 

Gasner also put out a call to other interns in our high school program to refute the antisemitic propaganda on her page.

For any of you who have TikTok, please visit Sabrina’s page here and leave a positive comment! But this incident also reminds us of the importance of being active on social media, especially now. Any time you see anti-Israel bias or antisemitism online, be sure to either report the comment or provide a balanced and informative rebuttal.

While you likely won’t change the minds of the haters, this will be effective in explaining the conflict to social media users who are uninformed about Israel.

Sabrina, of course, isn’t the only Hasbara student working hard to counter antisemitism during COVID-19. At the University of Toronto, Scarborough, a student union general meeting was recently cancelled due to a lack of quorum and proxies. But that didn’t stop our Hasbara Fellow Gabriela Rosenblum and her sister from recruiting dozens of U of T students to vote in order to disrupt the union’s support of BDS.

My friends, today is an unprecedented #GivingTuesday, launched in order to promote awareness of important charities in the wake of COVID-19. Your support, whether $5 or $500, will help us in our mission of creating more confident advocates for Israel on campus, such as Sabrina and Gabriela. 

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