Analysis: Why did Israel call Dnipro the world’s third most anti-Semitic city?

Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett

The Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett (he is also the Minister of Education) presented at the end of January 2018 a new system for monitoring anti-Semitism on the Internet—the Anti-Semitism Cyber Monitoring System. It currently operates in four languages: English, Arabic, French, and German.

After a month of work, the program in test mode daily “captured” 200,000 suspicious posts. “Artificial intelligence” then selected 10,000 authentically anti-Semitic statements on Facebook and Twitter.

Bennet also listed the main global “epicenters of cyber anti-Semitism.” His list was met with great surprise and bewilderment. In first place was the Mexican state of Puebla, and in second place was the city of Santiago in Chile.

The city of Dnipro in Ukraine was listed in third place. Bennett’s chart provided a figure of 201,700 anti-Semitic posts for the Ukrainian city, but without an explanation of what is designated by this puzzling figure.

We turned to Reut Moshonov, the press secretary for Minister Bennett, for an explanation.

“It is important to emphasize that it’s not about the number of cases of anti-Semitism in this region, but about the level of anti-Semitism in the network which was calculated by our system of monitoring. This system has been working for about two months and shows the situation in this period of time,” she noted in remarks for the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter website.

She also explained that the figures in the table for the cities listed do not reflect the number of anti-Semitic publications or the number of anti-Semitic users of the Web in a specific city. The system only shows the scale and level of anti-Semitism discovered.

Reut Moshonov noted there can be a situation when in some specific location there are a few people who are releasing many anti-Semitic posts with a high level of aggression. The system then “assigns” to this region a high level of anti-Semitic danger. And to the contrary, there can be cities with a large number of anti-Semitic users of the Web, but they release materials to networks with a low degree of anti-Semitic intensity.

This gradation consists of various indicators: the previous history of a published anti-Semitic post; the degree of its recurrence; keywords in the text; the frequency of posts; the number of subscribers; the number of shares of anti-Semitic posts; and the extent of distribution to networks.

But why did the Anti-Semitism Cyber Monitoring System assign a high level of anti-Semitic danger to the city of Dnipro if this system does not “read” either Russian or Ukrainian?

The informal answer by the representative of the Ministry indicated their system reads out tags in English and in Arabic. If someone posts derogatory tags, then the system sets off the post as an example of a city with a higher level of anti-Semitism on the Web.

The city of Santiago in Chile, which received second place on this list, is an example of a city with a higher level of anti-Semitism, and one possible reason is that a large and active community of Palestinian Arabs lives there.

If this factor is applied to the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, then it is possible to suppose that the high “degree” of anti-Semitism on the Internet in this city is shaped by heterogeneous groups of students and businessmen who study and live in Dnipro.

Perhaps the Israeli monitoring system marks the flows of anti-Jewish publications in Arabic and/or with English-language tags, assigning to the Ukrainian city of Dnipro a high level of anti-Semitism that is not based at all on the Ukrainian users of the Internet.

Text: Shimon Briman (Israel).
Photo: Ministry of Diaspora Affairs (Israel).
Edited by Peter Bejger.