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Antisemitism Expert: WikiLeaks ‘Knew What It Was Doing’ When Invoking Antisemitic Tropes on Twitter (INTERVIEW)
Lea Speyer Algemeiner
July 26, 2016

 

Denials by WikiLeaks that it knowingly posted an antisemitic message on social media should not be believed, an expert told The Algemeiner on Monday.

Kenneth L. Marcus — president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and author of The Definition of Anti-Semitism — was referring to a WikiLeaks tweet on Saturday that read, “Tribalist symbol for establishment climbers? Most of our critics have 3 (((brackets around their names))) & have black-rim glasses. Bizarre.”

Following backlash, WikiLeaks deleted the tweet and, in subsequent messages, attempted to offer explanations on what the postt meant. The group blamed “neo-liberal castle creepers” for turning (((echo))) into “a tribalist designator for establishment climbers,” adding that “pro-Clinton hacks and neo-Nazis” have intentionally misconstrued the original tweets meaning.

“The triple brackets have established themselves very quickly — you might say at internet speed — as both an antisemitic way of identifying Jews and and a Jewish way of expressing solidarity against antisemites,” Marcus said.

As reported by The Algemeiner in June, Google Chrome pulled an innocuous-sounding neo-Nazi plug-in after it was revealed that it was being used to track Jews online. Using a special web construction called an “(((echo)))” — three parentheses around the names of targets — white supremacists were able to encase the names of Jews that appeared on a webpage and attack them online. Each new Jewish or anti-white personality identified by the extension was then added to a database of names which was updated regularly.

The extension was uploaded by “altrightmedia,” a nod to the emerging far-Right movement made up of young, tech-savvy white supremacists. Since the use of the (((echo))) became public knowledge, both Jews and non-Jews alike have encased their names in an (((echo))) as an act of defiance.

According to Marcus, while (((echo))) is “fairly new, it is now so widely understood that Wikileaks undoubtedly knew what they were doing. It is a relatively transparent way of saying that their critics are Jews and dismissing them as such. This is reinforced by the derogatory reference to ‘tribalism,’ which is another euphemism for Jews.”

Instead of apologizing for the offensive comment, Marcus told The Algemeiner, “The problem for WikiLeaks is not that they’ve been misconstrued but that they have been correctly understood. Indeed, their meaning is so clear that it is hard to imagine that they were misunderstood by anyone.”

Over the last several months, Twitter has faced major backlash over what many say is the social media giant’s lax response to online antisemitism. The problem has intensified and become more “more widely understood,” Marcus said, amid the ongoing American presidential election, which has “stirred up considerable antisemitic Twitter traffic.”

“New media have always provided a fertile breeding ground for racist hate groups, including antisemites, for the same reasons that they have facilitated the growth of so many other small, unpopular and niche groups,” Marcus said.

Citing new media’s “low cost, easy access and wide reach,” Marcus said such qualities have become a “boon to both legitimate and illegitimate movements, while their anonymity has helped to shield hate groups from monitoring efforts.”

“For the record,” Marcus said, “my own Twitter handle includes the triple brackets, but my horn-rimmed glasses are actually a dark brown.”

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Kenneth L. Marcus
Kenneth L. Marcus is President and General Counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and author of The Definition of Anti-Semitism (Oxford University Press: 2015) and Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America (Cambridge University Press: 2010).
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