UK citizens posting antisemitic material on same 'far-right' social network as Pittsburgh shooter, claims campaigner

UK citizens posting antisemitic material on same 'far-right' social network as Pittsburgh shooter, claims campaigner

The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 people were gunned down by Robert Bowers on Saturday. Image: Getty

Monday, October 29, 2018

The director of investigations at the Campaign Against Antisemitism says the criminal justice system and social media networks do not do enough to combat antisemitism.

Following the horrific shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, in which 11 people were killed by gunman Robert Bowers, Stephen Silverman said: “We have been concerned about this for a number of years.”

He alleged to Julia Hartley-Brewer on the talkRADIO breakfast show that he was aware of UK citizens using the same social network favoured by the gunman to post antisemitic material.

“There’s a really worrying underlying problem here and this should serve as a wake up call to our government and to the criminal justice system,” said Mr Silverman. 


'Hiding in open sight'

A statement on the now-inaccessible social networking site Gab

He referenced the fact that Bowers, 46, allegedly posted several antisemitic statements on the social networking site Gab.

“If you look at what happened with Robert Bowers, who was responsible for this horrendous massacre in Pittsburgh, as far as we know he wasn’t on the radar of any law enforcement agency.

“But the fact is he was hiding in open sight. He’d been using the far-right social media platform Gab to essentially publish his manifesto.

“It was there for anybody to see and eventually put it into practice. This is not an uncommon sight on Gab.”

Bowers is currently in hospital after being shot at the scene by law enforcement.

Gab is a social network founded in 2016 that champions free speech with few limits on what users can post. It has been described as a haven for antisemites and neo-Nazis.

According to Gab, it has 800,000 users worldwide, and has defended its commitment to free speech in the wake of criticism.

Gab is currently inaccessible after several hosting companies refused its business.

Mr Silverman claims that he is aware of cases where UK citizens are using Gab “to say exactly the same things as Robert Bowers did”, and claims the CPS is not taking action.

talkRADIO has asked for more details of those alleged cases and approached the CPS for comment.


Social media 'driving' antisemitism'

Mr Silverman called social media “the engine room” for originating antisemitism, and said that it was on the rise in society.

“We know that we have a problem with social media acting as the engine room for driving this,” he said.

“Antisemitism is a crime that starts with words and ideas. It depends on people believing the most absurd ridiculous libels about Jews, and social media has been a powerful engine for promoting that.

“At the same time we’ve seen it increasingly in public discourse and political life. We have a toxic combination at the moment of having social media companies not taking adequate action, the criminal justice system not sending out sufficient warnings by prosecuting people, and political parties failing to deal with the resurgence of antisemitism among their own officials and members.”