June 21, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 21, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Trolls Target Program Helping Israel Supporters Become ‘Super Voters’

It was supposed to be an informative virtual program that attracted about 1,300 people from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut interested in learning how to take pro-Israel action by connecting with legislators and interacting with neighbors and friends.

The Oct. 19 Zoom program was sponsored by two organizations, one composed of people who appreciate the American-Israeli alliance and the other dedicated to informing about key election issues, neither of which were specifically Jewish. Those who spoke were both Jewish and not Jewish and had credentials that included being a former New York city council member, a former president of one of New York City’s five boroughs, an executive of a charity that helps the poor and disabled, a Jewish federation board member, and a self-professed pro-Israel progressive.

The program ended with a promise to follow up with all those who attended to turn them into “super voters.” There were no threats, no inappropriate language and nothing anti-Palestinian ever mentioned.

As one of those participants, this reporter received that first promised follow-up via email in mid-afternoon on Oct. 23. It included such apparently controversial information as how to register to vote in the three states, a sample draft of a letter to an elected representative and an encouragement to express gratitude to those legislators who have supported Israel and other issues of importance.

And it also contained a link to the Zoom for those who wanted to rewatch the program.

Somehow that email fell into the wrong hands and things quickly went awry.

About 30 minutes later when the link was clicked on a message appeared that it was a private video and not available. Just over two hours later another email arrived from the coalition with the chilling message: “Due to intolerable threats from antisemitic activists against our panelists and members of their families we have made the Zoom link private. Please email us directly with your name and address if you would like the link to the private Zoom meeting. Thank you.”

And what was said in the program that got people so upset? One speaker said: “You must register and vote in every election. You are the shareholders and the company is the politicians.” Another noted voters should not hesitate to contact elected officials if they have a concrete issue and that currently “as an American you should be outraged that over a dozen Americans are being held hostage. Every elected official in America should be talking and commenting about that.”

Still another suggested changing the “political zeitgeist” by reaching out to those who may not fully support Israel but are “fighting the good fight against antisemitism” to perhaps slowly bring them around to a more pro-Israel stance.

“We’re the largest Jewish community in the world outside of the state of Israel and they filled a vacuum,” pointed out another regarding anti-Israel supporters. “We fell asleep at the wheel. There hasn’t been any kind of new ideas injected into the political zeitgeist.”

Other apparently triggering ideas included building alliances with other communities so that in times of crisis each will support the other.

One panelist, even before the torrent of hateful messages, mentioned during the Zoom that it felt a little like the 1950s all over again when a very small group, led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and allies, targeted mainstream American institutions and individuals with charges of communism.

“The way to counter them is not to sit and wring our hands,“ said the panelist. “The way to counter them is to vote.”


Debra Rubin has had a long career in journalism writing for secular weekly and daily newspapers and Jewish publications. She most recently served as Middlesex/Monmouth bureau chief for the New Jersey Jewish News. She also worked with the media at several nonprofits, including serving as assistant public relations director of HIAS and assistant director of media relations at Yeshiva University.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles