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July 13, 2023
“The Polarization Pendulum” report initiated by the Ruderman Family Foundation and conducted by the Network Contagion Research Institute demonstrates the shifting popularity of antisemitic and anti-Zionist tropes in response to real-world events.
Jerusalem, Israel, July 12, 2023 — During today’s Knesset Caucus for Israel-American Jewry Relations, the Ruderman Family Foundation, and the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) presented unprecedented research revealing the deep impact which antisemitic and anti-Zionist social media discourse has on real-world events.
“The Polarization Pendulum,” an analysis of approximately 100 million tweets from January 1, 2020, to June 30, 2022, demonstrates the shifting popularity of antisemitic and anti-Zionist tropes on Twitter in response to real-world events. This “pendulum” or “turn-taking” effect highlights how these phenomena are affected, for example, with political circumstances and changes in leadership in the U.S. This may influence which narrative is favored, with each trope becoming the prevailing political climate, or with events such as conflicts in the Middle East or domestic unrest shaping the discourse.
The research also found that antisemitic and anti-Zionist tropes share virtually identical themes, such as bloodlust, dominance, covert control, and replacement. This similarity further highlights the connection between the two types of tropes and their impact on public perception and discourse.
The research revealed an immense double standard against Israel, as human rights terms used on Twitter target the country almost exclusively, perpetuating anti-Zionist narratives that mirror traditional antisemitic tropes. Based on the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, the research assesses that anti-Zionist campaigns and narratives on Twitter are largely antisemitic, on several grounds: a clear double standard against Israel, the identical hateful tropes that are being used both by antisemites and anti-Zionists, and the tweets’ strong correlation with real-world antisemitic incidents.
Shira Ruderman, Executive Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation: “The research we initiated and was conducted by the NCRI research institute reveals the enormous influence that social networks have and their ability to influence public discourse. This study focused on antisemitic and anti-Zionist discourse, and demonstrated the connection between the discourse on the Internet and its influence in the real world. In addition, the fact that Israel is measured differently from other countries in the world, using a double standard, requires us to place the issue on the agenda and insist on change in the world arena. This issue crosses political lines and worldviews and it is an opportunity for elected officials, from all sides of the political spectrum, to denounce the phenomenon.
Adam Sohn, CEO of the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI): “Many people distinguish between anti-Zionism and antisemitism but our research suggests that the tropes they use are nearly identical. In the present as well as in previous analyses we’ve done, we found correlation with real-world antisemitic incidents. The tropes of anti-Zionism are used to justify a larger attack against Jews everywhere, and we urge proper measures to be taken against it.”
Highlights of the study’s Twitter analysis include the following:
Following these revelations, the Ruderman Family Foundation and NCRI have determined that future research should continue to explore these tropes, their impact on society, and potential strategies for mitigating their harmful influence.
“The Polarization Pendulum” report represents the Foundation’s latest research effort to provide thought leaders and decision-makers with the data they need to properly understand antisemitism and its impact on the global Jewish community and on Israel-American Jewry relations.
For more than two decades, the Ruderman Family Foundation has undertaken multifaceted efforts to solidify the relationship of the State of Israel with American Jewry and the global Jewish community. In addition to survey research, Foundation activities in this domain have included the Knesset Caucus for Israel-American Jewry Relations, which aims to elevate the concerns of American Jews within the deliberations of the Israeli legislature, and the University of Haifa Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies, a master’s degree that covers a range of issues pertaining to American Jewish life and American society and much more.
Jake Sharfman, J Cubed Communications
About the Ruderman Family Foundation:
The Ruderman Family Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation established in 2002, managed by the Ruderman family. The Foundation operates in the United States and Israel to strengthen the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish Community; and model the practice of strategic philanthropy worldwide.
In the field of Israel-American Jewish relations, the Foundation focuses on fostering a sense of mutual commitment between the State of Israel and the Jewish community in the US. The organization aims to raise awareness, generate and disseminate knowledge, and promote positive attitudes among the Israeli public toward the American Jewish community. The Ruderman Family Foundation believes that the partnership between Israel and the American Jewish community is a strategic asset for the strength and prosperity of Israel and the entire Jewish people. For more information, please visit www.rudermanfoundation.org
About the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI):
The Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) provides pioneering technology, research, and analysis to identify and forecast cyber-social threats targeting individuals, organizations, and communities. The NCRI is committed to empowering partners to become proactive in protecting themselves against false narratives that create rifts of distrust that impact institutions, capital markets, public health, and safety.
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