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A score of Jewish celebrities are criticizing TikTok following a surge of antisemitic rhetoric going viral on the social media app following Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, which has culminated in some young people supporting 9/11 terror leader Osama bin Laden.
According to The New York Times, more than 30 influential people — including Sacha Baron Cohen, Debra Messing and Amy Schumer — had an impassioned 90-minute video call with TikTok executives earlier in the week.
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“What is happening at TikTok is it is creating the biggest antisemitic movement since the Nazis,” Cohen declared on the call, according to a video of the exchange. “Shame on you.” The Borat creator added that the service could “flip a switch” to silence such videos, and noted, “If you think back to Oct. 7, the reason why Hamas were able to behead young people and rape women was they were fed images from when they were small kids that led them to hate.”
One TikTok executive, Adam Presser, the head of operations who is also Jewish, admitted, “Obviously a lot of what Sacha says, there’s truth to that,” though he also said there wasn’t a “magic button” that would fix all the issues.
He also seemed to defend the use of the pro-Palestine protest anthem “from to the river to the sea,” which is widely considered a call to annihilate Israel and its people. When Presser said that this was a matter of interpretation and the phrase was being used “casually,” Messing reportedly pushed back.
“It is much more responsible to bar it at this juncture than to say, ‘Oh, well, some people, they use it in a different way than it actually was created to mean,'” she said. “I understand that you are in a very, very difficult and complicated place, but you also are the main platform for the dissemination of Jew hate.”
TikTok has now deleted a recent viral video of a teen reading bin Laden’s 2002 “Letter to America,” which is full of antisemitic statements and seeks to justify the 9/11 terror attack that murdered nearly 3,000 people and injured 6,000 more and is the worst homeland attack in U.S. history.
“We recognize this is an incredibly difficult and fearful time for millions of people around the world and in our TikTok community,” the company has said. “Our leadership has been meeting with creators, civil society, human rights experts and stakeholders to listen to their experiences and feedback on how TikTok can remain a place for community, discovery and sharing authentically.”
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