Amid the terrifying increase of antisemitic harassment, intimidation, and violence around the world in the wake of the October 7 Hamas terror attack against Israelis, many antisemitic phrases and terminology have been used at protests, on social media accounts, by celebrities, and even government officials, when criticizing Israel. 

Addressing this rise in Jew-hatred unseen, American Jewish Committee added over a dozen entries to Translate Hate, AJC’s glossary that concisely explains when, why, and how certain terms, tropes, themes, and memes are antisemitic.

Since Hamas terrorists viciously attacked Israel, we are seeing in real-time new antisemitic terms emerging and old tropes morphing, all to cast blame on the Jewish people and the Jewish state for society’s problems.

Here are the top five antisemitic terms and tropes from AJC’s Translate Hate that have been trending since the October 7 attack. 

  1. “From the River to the Sea” 

Definition: The catch-all phrase symbolizing Palestinian control over the entire territory of Israel’s borders, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

How it’s antisemitic: “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free” is a rallying cry for terrorist groups and their sympathizers, from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to Hamas, which called for Israel’s destruction in its original governing charter in 1988 and was responsible for the October 7, 2023 terror attack on Israeli civilians, murdering over 1,200 people in the single deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust. 

How it’s being used: The hateful slogan has frequently appeared on protest signs nationwide during rallies in support of Palestinians, often used on social media by Palestinian supporters including government officials and members of Congress, and even on T-shirts for sale on Amazon. It has also become popular among far too common call-to-arms for anti-Israel activists on campuses across the country, including on the East Campus bridge at Duke Universityon lecture slides at the Society for Ethnomusicology’s annual meeting, and scores of other academic spaces. 

Learn more from AJC’s Translate Hate 

  1. “Globalize the Intifada” 

Definition: A phrase using the Arabic word for “uprising” or “shaking off,” whose message encourages resistance, most prominently in the form of violence, against Israel. Calls to “globalize” contribute to the targeting of Jews, Israelis, and institutions that support Israel around the world.

How it’s antisemitic: The most prominent expressions of intifada have been through violence so this phrase is often understood by those saying and hearing it as encouraging violence against Israelis, Jews, and institutions supporting Israel. While the intent of the person saying this phrase may be different, the impact on the Jewish community remains the same.

How it’s being used: “Globalize the Intifada” is a phrase used by pro-Palestinian activists that calls for aggressive resistance against Israel and those who support Israel.

There are numerous examples such as at a demonstration in Times Square, in front of the Consulate General of Israel in Manhattan, in central London, at Harvard University, and even on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, not far from Crown Heights, a neighborhood with a very large Hasidic Jewish population that is the home of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. 

Learn more from AJC’s Translate Hate 

  1. “Settler Colonialist”

Definition: An occupying force that exploits and displaces native populations from their home to settle and form a permanent society.

When it’s antisemitic: When those who oppose the State of Israel claim that Jews (or Zionists) have no historical connection to the land and instead barged in to take the land from the Palestinian population that lives there. It denies the Jewish people self-determination and ignores the United Nations partition resolution of 1947 that created states for both Jewish and Arab populations living there.

How it’s being used: On social media, in protests, and on college campuses, there has been an effort to undermine Israel’s legitimacy by accusing it of being a settler-colonial state. Those spreading this lie argue that Jews have no historical connection to the land of Israel and that Zionists - those who support the right of Jewish self-determination and national homeland in the land of Israel - came to colonize the land, taking it from the Palestinians beginning in the late nineteenth century. However, this claim ignores the thousands of years of deep connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. 

Learn more from AJC’s Translate Hate 

  1. “Nazi Symbols (Swastika)”

Definition: Code words, phrases, and images from Nazi Germany used today by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Why it’s antisemitic: Code words and phrases have been used for decades by different white supremacist hate groups to avoid censorship or censure. The Nazi swastika was the symbol of the Nazi party under Adolf Hitler. It is an inverted version of the swastika symbol that is revered in many Eastern religions and cultures. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists continue to use it today as a symbol of the “pure race.” 

How it’s being used:  Religious extremists, including Hamas and other terrorist groups, utilize the Nazi swastika to terrorize Jews and Israelis. Anti-Israel protesters have also wielded the Nazi swastika to weaponize the Holocaust against the Jewish community. Some use the symbol to imply that another Shoah is coming for the Jews. Others use the swastika to accuse Jews of hypocrisy and committing genocide of the Palestinian people.

To boot, neo-Nazis have brought their signature symbol to pro-Palestinian protests to show support and cheer on Hamas. In 2021, a Jewish group in Boca Raton expressing solidarity with Israel in the wake of indiscriminate rocket attacks was harassed by a van of Holocaust deniers waving a Palestinian flag.

Learn more from AJC’s Translate Hate 

  1. “Zionism is Racism”

Definition: Refers to United Nations Resolution 3379 in 1975, in which the General Assembly linked Zionism and the State of Israel, to racism and racial discrimination. This was overturned in 1991 making it one of only two resolutions ever revoked by the UN.

Why it’s antisemitic: Criticizing specific Israeli government policies as discriminatory or racist is not antisemitic. However, saying “Zionism is racism,” a phrase which itself is a racist and religious distortion, conveys that the Jewish people—unlike all other people in the world—do not have a right to self-determination. The phrase also denigrates the Jewish State and belittles the diversity of Jewish life in Israel.

How it’s being used: Amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas War Jews or “Zionists” are falsely characterized as “Nazis” and “racists.” One New York Magazine writer even suggested that Zionists worked with the Nazis during World War II and enabled some of the atrocities against Jews during the Holocaust. The allegation that Zionism is racism does a tremendous amount of damage by diminishing the egregious sin of racism and equating Jewish self-determination with prejudice and discrimination against others. 

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