EJC takes part in WGAS briefing with YouTube and industry experts

The European Jewish Congress participated in a briefing of the European Parliament Working Group against Antisemitism (WGAS) and the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism on the topic of online hate speech.

Clara Dutoit-Sommier from YouTube Government Affairs and Public Policy team and Eliyahou Roth, CEO at Online Antisemitism Task Force discussed the current state of play and efforts by YouTube with regard to the problem of antisemitism in digital spaces.

The meeting was hosted by WGAS Chair Nicola Beer MEP (Renew Europe), Vice-Chairs Frédérique Ries MEP (Renew Europe) and Othmar Karas MEP (EPP), and Board members MEP David Lega (EPP) and Dietmar Köster MEP (S&D).

They were joined remotely by MP Anthony Housefather (Canada), Alex Sobel MP (UK) and Former MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh (Israel). The briefing took place in the scope of the continued cooperation between WGAS and the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism, a cross-party group of lawmakers from Israel, the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK.

EJC Executive Vice-President and CEO Raya Kalenova, Head of Projects and Diplomatic Affairs Maria Bagdasarova and Public Affairs Officer Caroline Totaro took part in the briefing on behalf of the EJC. They were joined by B’nai B’rith International Director of EU Affairs Alina Bricman.

Frédérique Ries MEP welcomed the briefing that sought to advance the dialogue between policy makers, experts and IT companies and to raise the awareness of all stakeholders of the key areas of concern with regard to antisemitism online in order to step up the ongoing efforts and to contribute to a safer internet experience for all users.

Michal Cotler-Wunsh emphasised the transnational character of online antisemitism and called for the transparency of platforms in policy and its implementation as well as in definitions used.

Nicola Beer MEP called for the widespread use of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism in the training of both human and machine moderators on the platforms, with the definition being a universal resource to identify incidents both online and offline.

David Lega MEP stressed the importance of offering a greater level of granularity in reporting the harmful content to allow differentiation of types of hate speech (racism, antisemitism, hatred against women etc).

Raya Kalenova welcomed the dialogue between legislators and IT companies and insisted on the importance of addressing the spread of antisemitic conspiracy myths, which even when not necessarily illegal, are always harmful.

This was the second joint meeting in the framework of the cooperation between WGAS and the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism.

The EJC acts as Secretary and Member of the Advisory Board of WGAS.