Twitter unlocks frozen accounts featuring Stars of David, clarifies ‘hateful conduct’ policy

Following complaints that Twitter locked the accounts of some Jewish users in the U.K. who displayed images of the Star of David, the social media company sought to explain its procedures for determining hateful conduct. 

In a statement released Wednesday morning, Twitter clarified, “We categorically do not consider the Star of David as a hateful symbol or hateful image. We have for some time seen the ‘yellow star’ or ‘yellow badge’ symbol being used by those seeking to target Jewish people. This is a violation of the Twitter Rules, and our Hateful Conduct Policy prohibits the promotion of violence against — or threats of attack towards — people on the basis of categories such as religious affiliation, race and ethnic origin.”

“While the majority of cases were correctly actioned, some accounts highlighted recently were mistakes and have now been restored.”

In the statement, Twitter thanked the U.K.-based organizations Campaign Against Antisemitism and Community Security Trust, as well as the Anti-Defamation League, for “bringing this to our attention and for their partnership in tackling antisemitism.”

In a statement to Jewish Insider, Stephen Silverman, Campaign Against Antisemitism’s director of investigations and enforcement, said, “Only one of the accounts locked featured a yellow star, and it very clearly did so as a means of reclaiming the yellow stars used by the Nazis. This is precisely the kind of inept response to antisemitism that we have come to expect from Twitter, which just last week tried to convince us that the viral antisemitic #JewishPrivilege hashtag was legitimate.”

Users reported their accounts were locked by Twitter for depicting the Star of David.

Silverman continued, “We would happily help Twitter, but they largely ignore us when we approach them, which we take as a reflection of their inconsistency in addressing this,” Silverman continued. “It seems that Twitter prefers to go after Jewish users who proudly display their identity but not after antisemitic users who unabashedly promote anti-Jewish vitriol.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt welcomed Twitter’s response, praising the social media platform in a tweet. “Good to see Twitter clarifying the difference between images used to harass and when used to express identity and empathy. The Star of David is an ancient symbol that represents all Jews and our solidarity,” he tweeted.

“Upon learning of the situation, ADL reached out to Twitter and worked with the company to help them get it right. Notable that they moved swiftly to correct this problem,” Greenblatt wrote, adding, “Kudos to Twitter for doing this here and elsewhere recently.”

NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson posts picture with Farrakhan

Basketball Hall of Famer and former Philadelphia 76ers point guard Allen Iverson became the latest celebrity to enter controversy after posting a picture with Minister Louis Farrakhan on Instagram on Tuesday.

Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, has long been decried for decades of public antisemitic remarks.

Iverson, who has more than 8 million Instagram followers, posted the photo showing him meeting with Farrakhan on an unknown date, accompanied by the comment “I didn’t choose to be black. I just got lucky!!! #BucketListMoment #LoveConquersHate #GoodDefeatsEvil”

In a post on Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called Farrakhan the “most popular antisemite in America,” citing a speech on July 4 in which he urged his followers to “fight Satan the arch deceiver [and] the imposter Jews who are worthy of the chastisement of God.” The video of his remarks has more than 1.2 million views on YouTube.

Iverson joins a sizable list of celebrities to recently show support for Farrakhan, including rapper Ice Cube, comedian Chelsea Handler — who later recanted — Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and actor Nick Cannon.

Iverson played for four teams in his 14-year NBA career, including the 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, and Memphis Grizzlies. An 11-time all-star and recipient of the 2001 Most Valuable Player award, Iverson is considered one of the greatest players of his era, and was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2016.

An hour after posting, embattled fellow former NBA player Stephen Jackson, under his Instagram handle “@_stak5_,” commented on the post “Love u bro.” DeSean Jackson also initially liked the photo under his handle “@0ne0fone,” according to a screenshot, but later removed his like without explanation. 

In the blog post, the ADL wrote that despite “messages that espouse hate and division,” Farrakhan “has been given a pass in mainstream society.”

ADL hires longtime FBI official as new vice president for law enforcement and analysis

The Anti-Defamation League has tapped longtime FBI official Gregory Ehrie to oversee the group’s relationship with law enforcement.

Ehrie, who joined the ADL as its vice president for law enforcement and analysis on May 18, worked in a number of prominent roles in the FBI during his 22-year service, including as section chief of the Domestic Terrorism Operations Section, special agent in charge of the New York Office Intelligence Division and most recently, special agent in charge of the Newark, New Jersey, office. 

Ehrie’s FBI career frequently brought him in contact with the ADL — he attended several ADL seminars and worked with the organization on law enforcement issues. 

“Moving on from the Bureau, I can’t think of a better organization I’d want to join,” he said in an interview with Jewish Insider. “I think my background in law enforcement and my interactions with them really puts me in a unique position to enhance and forward the ADL mission.”

Ehrie’s role places him in charge of the organization’s efforts to build partnerships between law enforcement and both the ADL and the public at large. “I want to get to know both sides,” he said, “and hopefully [I] can translate the languages so we can better not only protect our communities but have a more respectful relationship.”

Though he hails from Irish ancestors, Ehrie said he has “a great affinity” for the Jewish community, fostered by his work in and with the community over several decades. In 2005 and 2006, he spent a year living on the Ramat Rachel kibbutz in Jerusalem learning Arabic for the FBI. Last year, he led the FBI’s Newark office during the investigation into the December attack on a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, N.J.

Ehrie described his time in Jerusalem as “one of the highlights of my life.” “Beautiful country, wonderful, strong people with a proud history and heritage, facing a lot of challenges throughout their history, even today,” he said. “But I found them to be, you know, some of the most caring people and… so welcoming, so open.”

Ehrie arrives at the ADL at a time when the relationship between the public and law enforcement is under severe stress. More than a week of protests against police brutality around the country have, in many cities, elevated tensions between community members and authorities. 

The relationship between the public and law enforcement “is a marriage without divorce, as we like to call it,” Ehrie said. “So I hope… that I can in some way assist the ADL whose mission is to help these communities… to assist them in making this better and repairing this damage.”

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