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Hate Finds New Forum On Internet Anti-Semites Exploit New Medium

Thu., Feb. 27, 1997, midnight

Hate has a new forum - cyberspace.

While traditional acts of anti-Semitic harassment and vandalism are on the decline, officials with the AntiDefamation League said Wednesday bigotry is thriving on the Internet.

“The Internet’s growth of electronic hate has been remarkable,” said David Lehrer, regional director of the ADL. “Anti-Semites have been particularly active in exploiting the medium.

“They use the net to reach an audience many times larger than they ever could have with their fliers, rallies and shopworn canards.”

The extent of the problem cannot be measured, but the ADL says it tries to counteract unwanted mass e-mailings and sites for hate groups on the World Wide Web by providing background information about the groups.

“What was local is now global,” concludes an ADL report charting anti-Semitic incidents.

More encouraging, Lehrer told a City Hall news conference, is that in Los Angeles County, there was a 49 percent drop in anti-Semitic incidents. The decline mirrors a drop in California and nationally.

Lehrer reasoned that the fall-off is possibly due to an improving economy where people feel less threatened.

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan said officials must remain vigilant.

“Hate is still with us,” Riordan said. “We must join forces in the quest to fight against hatred and bigotry.”

As part of that, the officials said they have to be prepared for what Joe Hicks, of the Multi-Cultural Collaboration, called “the technology of hate.”

“It feeds a certain approach that we must work to combat,” Hicks said. “We need people to lower the noise and get people out there who can set an example.”

Stanton McCandlish, program director of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, a San Francisco-based group which monitors the Internet, said he is more concerned with censorship than the growth of hate pages.

“It stands to reason that the more people who go on the Internet, the more people who are anti-Semites or bigots are going to be there. But, where they used to do these things in private, now they’re out there in the open where they can be refuted and their stupidity can be shown.”


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