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The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper
At Harvard University In Cambridge, Massachusetts, A Pro- Palestinian Rally Clashed With Supporters Of Israel; The Posters Of Kidnapped Israelis Have Become A Flashpoint, With Confrontations Going Viral On Social Media; Antisemitism, Jewish Hate Has Been Part Of The Fabric Of Societies For Millennia. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired November 12, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: The blaze apparently started with a pile of wood pallets on Saturday, it then grew, nearly two acres, while damaging the freeway's structural support system. Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency. We should note, though, in the meantime that no injuries have been reported, as they tried to get on top of that situation out in Los Angeles.
In the meantime, thank you very much for joining me this evening, reporting from Washington. I'm Jim Acosta. Hope you have a very good week, and I look forward to seeing you again soon. Have a good night, everybody. Good night.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to "The Whole Story". I'm Anderson Cooper. Since the October 7 terror attack on Israel and the war that followed, there has been a spike in antisemitic attacks around the world, including in the United States. The FBI recently warned antisemitism is reaching historic levels. Its data shows Jewish Americans make up 2.4 percent of the public, but they're the targets of more than 60 percent of religious hate crimes recorded in this country. Since October, Jewish day schools have closed or had to hire extra security. Synagogues have gone into lockdown and college campuses, in particular, have seen a surge in antisemitic incidents, including some assaults.
Over the next hour, CNN's Dana Bash explores the roots of antisemitism in America and how they've spread. You'll also hear from some who personally experienced threats and attacks in the past month, and have started hiding their Jewish identity in public at a fear for their safety.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sunday, October 29, in southern Russia, barely three weeks after the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust, an angry mob stormed the tarmac and rushed to plane that had just arrived from Tel Aviv. They were hunting for Jews.
AMBASSADOR DEBORAH LIPSTADT, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR MONITORING COMBATING ANTISEMITISM: They weren't saying give us the Israelis, which would have been terrible anyway, but they were young. Where are the Jews? Where are the Jews? That was plain old overt antisemitism.
I, Lipstadt --
BASH (voice-over): Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt is the U.S. State Department's Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. She was sworn in in 2022, amid already rising hate around the world.
BASH: Since the attack on Israel, how has your role become more vital?
LIPSTADT: We began to see first a surge and then a spike, then an explosion, and now a tsunami of antisemitism worldwide, in Paris, in London, in Germany, in Australia which scares the Jews, get rid of the Jews. Let's have a Jew-free zone. It's not about being pro-Hamas or anti- Israel. It's about antisemitism. Do you know how when a -- the yellow light is flashing? Antisemitism is stuff like that amber light, and what it's signaling is that antisemitism is coming, and it's a threat to democracy.
BASH: If antisemitism is a telltale sign that a democracy is threatened, what does it say about the United States right now?
LIPSTADT: It's disturbing. It's disturbing.
BASH (voice-over): This new wave of Jewish hatred is causing historic levels of antisemitic acts in America.
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: We've just never seen a surge like this before. Literally, we've seen the highest numbers that ADL has ever tracked in terms of acts of harassment, vandalism and violence. 2022 was the worst year ever, and the numbers, already so high, have exploded since October 7th.
BASH (voice-over): But, antisemitic incidents up nearly 400 percent, according to ADL data.
GREENBLATT: While the Jewish community is struggling to make sense of that madness, that horror, it has been incredibly painful, compounding the grief and the sense of anxiety to see the world turn on the Jewish community, to see protesters in places here in the United States attacking Jewish people in broad daylight, vandalizing "Zionist businesses". I think if we try to understand why is this happening in this moment, I think we have seen antisemitism normalized in recent years, as that seeps into the culture and sort of poisons the bloodstream, it then allows people to think, oh, it is OK to make an open season on Jews.
MIKE MASTERS, DIRECTOR & CEO, SECURE COMMUNITY NETWORK: This past month, we had 770 incident reports.
There is no question that the incidents aren't going up. One of the things, you know, we've often --
BASH (voice-over): Mike Masters is the CEO of the Secure Community Network, a 24/7 command center where analysts monitor all the way down to the dark web for threats against Jews.
MASTERS: This is our Jewish Security Operations Command Center. This is the national hub.
BASH: I'm curious to see how much it's changed since the last time we were here.
BASH (voice-over): I first met him in 2022, reporting on an already disturbing rise in antisemitism in America. But, October 7 took SCN's work to another level.
BASH: It says active now, 31. What does that mean?
MASTERS: There are 31 risk events that are occurring in proximity to a Jewish facility right now across the country.
BASH: And how much more of non-specific threats are you seeing now versus October 7?
MASTERS: 149 since October 7, on average a month before that was closer to 50. Those are an individual that is threatening to kill Jews. We've had multiple threats of Jewish day schools around the country receiving phone calls of individuals saying we're going to come in and kill you and then imitating the sounds of gunfire, Indiana, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and other states, since October 7.
BASH: It opened the floodgates.
MASTERS: It opened the floodgates.
BASH (voice-over): And floodwaters are breaching the walls of college campuses across the country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): At Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a pro-Palestinian rally clashed with supporters of Israel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): At George Washington University, glory to our martyrs, among the messages projected on a library wall.
ADAM LEHMAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HILLEL INTERNATIONAL: Some of the worst, the Stanford professor who literally herded Jewish students into a corner, humiliating them, the assault at UC Davis of a Jewish student, putting up posters of hostages, just to make sure that they are not forgotten, and being physically assaulted in the process, very similar incidents at Columbia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): In many cities and on many campuses, missing persons' style posters being torn down.
BASH (voice-over): The posters of kidnapped Israelis have become a flashpoint, with confrontations going viral on social media.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are surprised? Show your face. Show your face. You're not allowed to put them. GREENBLATT: They tear them down because they don't see them as people. They see them as something inferior. They see them as something subhuman. This is the destination where antisemitism takes you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is children. It's innocent people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. What about the children in Palestine?
LIPSTADT: That, it's one of the things I find most disturbing.
LIPSTADT: These aren't soldiers who were taken in battle. These were civilians who were taken away. These were women who were raped and then taken. These are babies. But, to tear down the pictures and to do it with such an aggressive attitude, it's a form of hate. It's a form of hate. It's a form of contempt for life.
BASH: Antisemitism, Jewish hate has been part of the fabric of societies for millennia. The difference between that and what we see in modern times is what?
LEHMAN: The difference in terms of antisemitism today is that it blends a lot of the traditional notions of nefarious Jewish power being used to take advantage of other peoples with a very specific anti-Zionism and anti-Israel set of narratives.
LIPSTADT: Jew hatred, antisemitism is deeply baked into not just Western society, but much of the world, it's very hard to eradicate. The antisemitism has been called the longest or the oldest hatred with good reason. So, this sort of let the little (ph) off for many antisemites for quite a few decades. It hasn't been taken seriously. People have said, well, it's not as serious as racism. It's not as serious as homophobia. It's not as serious as misogyny, etc. Or what you'll often find is amongst university administrators, at least Jewish kids, they come from well-heeled families, it's almost falling into the antisemitic trope. Jews are powerful. So, why are they complaining? Jews as successful. So, why are they complaining? So, it's using the antisemitism against them. When you encounter an act of prejudice, call it out for what it is.
When George Floyd was murdered, it would have been so inappropriate to say we condemn the racism that was behind this and the homophobia and the antisemitism.
But, somehow, when it comes to antisemitism, it couldn't be called out on its own. It couldn't stand on its own.
BASH: What does the whataboutism do?
LIPSTADT: It dilutes. It -- and it's -- so to a certain degree rationalizes and/or justifies. I want to also be exactly clear, criticism of Israeli policy is not antisemitism. But, when you question the right of Jews to a national identity, when you question the existence of a Jewish state, you move beyond the political.
BASH (voice-over): Antisemitism in the U.S. is now exploding on both sides of the political spectrum.
BASH: In recent history, the anti-Jewish hate that has exploded into violence has come from the right, from right-wing extremists. What is happening on college campuses tends to come from the left.
LEHMAN: Yes. I mean, there is no question that the culture on campus when it comes to anti-Jewish sentiment is coming from left-wing groups and alliances that are all built around this demonization of Israel, wherever Jewish students are just trying to go about living their lives on campus.
BASH: So, when you talk about demonization of Israel, a lot of progressives would say, you can be anti-Israel and not antisemitic. That's not true anymore.
LEHMAN: We've seen the line between anti-Israel sentiment and antisemitism completely crumble. When students have been physically assaulted at University of Georgia, at UC Davis, at other campuses, no one is asking them about their views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This line has completely broken down.
BASH (voice-over): As war rages on, there is little hope of domestic attacks letting up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The death of a Jewish man at dueling protests in Southern California is being investigated as a homicide.
GREENBLATT: In the last week, we've seen a Jewish man assaulted and killed in Southern California. We saw a woman who tried to drive her car into what she thought was a synagogue outside of Chicago. These look like outliers until you pull back and you realize that she data points on a trendline of intensifying antisemitism and increasing probability of violence.
BASH (voice-over): Ahead --
PNINA SASSON, STUDENT, TULANE UNIVERSITY: It really went from zero to 100.
BASH (voice-over): -- clashes escalate on American campuses.
BASH (voice-over): New Orleans, Louisiana, dueling pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli rallies near Tulane University turned violent.
DYLAN MANN, STUDENT, TULANE UNIVERSITY: They were chanting Israel, Israel, you can't hide. We will charge genocide, like from the river to the sea.
BASH: When you hear from the river to the sea, what does that mean to you?
SASSON: They want to wipe us out. They want us gone. They don't want a two-state solution.
MANN: It is the call for the annihilation of Israel, and in a sense the extermination of the Jewish people.
BASH (voice-over): Tulane students, Dylan Mann and Pnina Sasson said the protests on opposite sides of the street began peacefully.
MANN: We felt each other's presence. There wasn't really a sense that we were attacking each other, you know, interplay ideologically, at that point.
BASH: When did it turn?
MANN: You know, they would call us genocide supporters. We would say you're supporting genocide and some of their support for Hamas. You know, they call us colonizers. We'd call them terrorists supporters.
SASSON: Yes, there were things that we shouted back at them. But, that really took a turn the second the boy pulled out that flag from the truck and took out a lighter.
BASH (voice-over): Violence erupted when a pro-Palestinian demonstrator in the back of a pickup truck started to light an Israeli flag on fire.
MANN: A student on the Jewish side, he ran and he tried to get back the flag to save him from being burned. There were two kids in the back of the truck, one is holding the Israeli flag and one was holding a Palestinian flag on a very large pole. Once the Jewish student was able to retrieve the flag back, he started getting bashed over the head repeatedly with that pole. And when I saw that, that's when I ran in. I was trying to just get him out of the situation.
BASH (voice-over): Then Dylan was beaten and attacked by two older men, he says, were not college-aged.
MANN: I was completely blindsided by a man with a megaphone who hit me very viciously over the nose, which broke my nose. I went into complete shock. I went deaf for a couple of seconds. Like I seemed like I went blind maybe for a second.
BASH: You're draped in an Israeli flag. You're holding a photo of a Jew being held hostage in Gaza, and you're getting beaten up.
MANN: This wasn't a pro-Hamas rally, at least not in name. This was what was called the pro-Palestinian rally. And it was still violent. Assaulting a Jewish person isn't going to free Palestine. And I think almost every single Jew would agree that it is an utter tragedy, the amount of civilians who have died in Gaza. And while we're thinking that -- we're thinking a lot of these people in this crowd who are saying these sensible things are also calling for the destruction of Israel for referring to Zionism as genocide. And so, when you're not able to separate the radical ideas from the sensible ones, you know, that's when it gets dangerous.
BASH (voice-over): In a statement, Tulane's President Michael Fitts said, "We stand against all forms of violence and hate including antisemitism, Islamophobia, and racism. A line was crossed and we will do everything in our power to ensure it is not crossed again. And we still have much work to do to heal and unite our community."
LEHMAN: Since October 7, we have seen so much conflict bubbling up on college campuses across the country. For Jewish students in particular, they are going from trauma to trauma, and most of them felt incredible trauma watching so many innocent Israelis slaughtered on October 7. And while they were mourning that, while they were feeling the threat and fear of what happened, in many cases to people they knew or felt connected to, there were mobilizations of anti- Israel student groups and other groups coming to campus to turn what had been a mass murder into an opportunity to further demonize Israel.
MASTERS: We've had 148 incidents reported to us on college campuses since October 7. That is an increase of several 100 percent from the month prior.
BASH (voice-over): Tensions on Harvard's campus flared when a coalition of student groups signed a letter the very night Israeli authorities said civilians were raped, beheaded, and burned alive, stating Israel was "entirely responsible for the Hamas terror attack."
On October 31, a student at Cornell University was arrested for allegedly posting online, he would "bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you pig Jews". He also allegedly threatened to stab and slit the throat of any Jewish males who he sees on campus to rape and throw off a cliff any Jewish females and to behead any Jewish babies. The student's mother released a statement saying he had mental health struggles.
MASTERS: We get risk events from around the world.
BASH (voice-over): The posts were caught in SCN's Command Center.
MASTERS: We have team members that have been on the Cornell campus working with the administration and law enforcement.
BASH: Members of your organization are on the ground at Cornell, teaching the students how to be more safe?
BASH (voice-over): The Dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, who was Jewish, says he has never seen the level of antisemitism at universities, including among faculty as rampant as it is now. ERWIN CHEMERINSKY, DEAN OF THE UC-BERKELEY SCHOOL OF LAW: I was stunned and saddened to see statements online celebrating the mass terrorist attack. I could read you a few examples. For instance, students for Justice in Palestine called the terrorist attack "a historic win" for "the Palestinian resistance". A Columbia professor called the mass massacre "awesome", and "a stunning victory". A Chicago Art Professor posted a note that said "Israeli sort of pigs, savages, very, very bad people, irredeemable excrement, made the all rotten hell." If this is anything other than Jewish people being killed, will people say this, and if they did, wouldn't it be widely condemned?
BASH (voice-over): At George Washington University, the group "Students for Justice in Palestine" recently projected antisemitic tropes outside Gelman Library "Free Palestine from the river to the sea", "Glory to our martyrs".
GREENBLATT: Imagine a world in which after the murder of George Floyd someone was projecting messages like about protect the police and George Floyd was guilty, how offensive would that be?
BASH (voice-over): In this case, GW's President Ellen Granberg said "These images included antisemitic phrases that have caused fear and anxiety for many members of our Jewish and broader GW community, and we wholly denounce this type of conduct."
BASH: I went to GW. I'm a proud alum. I studied in that library for four years. I can't imagine what it feels like to know that these hateful images and phrases were projected on the outside of that building.
GALI LASKA, STUDENT, THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: To see many people sitting there under these projections was very uncomfortable, and very disheartening to see.
BASH (voice-over): Gali is a senior at GW. Aviv, a freshman. His grandmother lives in Israel.
BASH: Did she call you?
AVIV, STUDENT, THE GEORGE WASHINTGON UNIVERSITY: Yes.
BASH: What did she say?
AVIV: She just asked if like everything is OK. What's going on here? And just kind of wanted me to explain to her like what I've been seeing on campus. And if it's really as bad as you see it is online.
BASH: So, this is your grandmother in Ashkelon on the border with Gaza, worried about you on a college campus in America?
BASH: Your mom told you to take your Mezuzah, the Jewish symbol that hangs outside the door. Your mom told you to put it inside.
BASH: Did you?
AVIV: Yes. I did. And then, I also -- she asked me to change my name on Uber and other apps that have like my name on it, because my name is Israeli, and by reading it you would know I'm Jewish. So, she wanted me to switch that as well, just to be safe.
LASKA: I really feel like we come to college to learn and to meet people who are so different from us, and maybe have different political ideas, or who have been raised in a different religion. And right now, I feel like I can't have those challenging conversations, because I feel as if when I share my opinions, I will be shut down.
BASH (voice-over): Unchecked antisemitism has led to high profile donor backlash at Harvard, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania and others.
DAVID MAGERMAN, FORMER DONOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: The school, for whatever reason, can't feel like it can defend Israel and defend -- and attack evil and call up Hamas for what it is. The things that they did were evil and they weren't willing to say it.
BASH (voice-over): Some of the nation's most prominent law firms warned elite colleges to crack down on antisemitism or face recruitment problems.
LEHMAN: The madness has to stop, and candidly like in the case of Tulane and elsewhere, we need our university administrators to take control of the situation, to bring some order to this chaos in the way it's being directed against Jewish students.
BASH (voice-over): We reached out to Cornell, Columbia, Tulane, George Washington, and eight other universities who have experienced antisemitism on campus for an interview with the school's President. They all declined. Columbia did announce on Friday they suspended two pro-Palestinian student groups for repeated violation of university policies.
LIPSTADT: It's very depressing. It's very depressing. Have we failed?
BASH: What's the answer?
LIPSTADT: From what I've seen, we certainly haven't succeeded in critical analytical thinking. Something has gone wrong worldwide in higher education, and it's got to be resolved.
BASH (voice-over): UC-Berkeley's Law School Dean said his school has done a lot to address antisemitism.
CHEMERINSKY: We require all of our law students to go through bias training. That includes antisemitism as well as other forms of bigotry, as well as I've certainly been willing to express myself in condemning antisemitism when I see it, and I think that's important as a dean, as a leader of an educational institution to speak out.
BASH (voice-over): When we come back --
GREENBLATT: Antisemitism of the hard left, I like the climate change. It starts down here, gets hotter and hotter, hotter. It creates the space in which, guess what can happen, Category Five hurricanes.
BASH: Are we at a Category Five hurricane now on the left?
GREENBLATT: You better believe it.
GREENBLATT: It seems like a long time ago, it was sort of a golden age for Jewish people.
BASH (voice-over): 2015 and Jonathan Greenblatt just began his tenure at the ADL.
GREENBLATT: Things looked very different in 2015.
GREENBLATT: Much better.
BASH (voice-over): Hard to imagine, given the explosion of Jew hate today.
GREENBLATT: Antisemitic incidents were bouncing around at a very low number where they had been for years.
BASH: What changed?
GREENBLATT: In 2016, President Trump ran for office. He welcomed people from the fringes into the front of the line.
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Melania, so great, such a great supporter.
BASH (voice-over): The presidential campaign was at a fever pitch when journalist Julia Loffe filed a report on Melania Trump.
JULIA LOFFE, JOURNALIST: At the time, nobody really knew who she.
BASH (voice-over): The GQ article posted on April 27, 2016, within 24 hours, Melania Trump reacted on Facebook, accusing Loffe of having an agenda.
LOFFE: The problem is that when your husband runs for President, everything is fair game. BASH: So, let's talk about what happened afterwards.
BASH (voice-over): Loffe and I spoke in 2022 about what happened next. A neo-Nazi website posted this, "Filthy Russian Kike Julia loffe attacks Empress Melania." Then "go ahead and send her, Loffe, a tweet."
LOFFE: I started getting all these calls and all of this ugly stuff on social media and in my email, the photoshops of my face in a gas chamber or my face in an Auschwitz mugshot.
BASH: Who are these people who are doing this, and how are they connected to Donald Trump?
LOFFE: So many of these people were making overt connections between these antisemitic actions and speech and their support for Donald Trump.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Some of your supporters have viciously attacked this woman Julia Loffe with antisemitic attacks, death threats.
BASH (voice-over): Soon after CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer interviewed the then presumptive Republican nominee.
TRUMP: I don't know anything about that.
BLITZER: But, your message to the --
TRUMP: Do you mean fans of mine?
BLITZER: Supposed fans of yours posting these.
BASH (voice-over): And when pressed again, this.
BLITZER: But, you message to these fans is --
TRUMP: I don't have a message to the fans. There is nothing more dishonest than the media.
BASH: So, his silence was taken how?
BRITAN HELLER, PROFESSOR, STANFORD PACS: As permission.
BASH (voice-over): Britan Heller is a professor who compiles data about online hate.
BASH: You actually saw data that backed that up.
HELLER: Yes. We would see the number of attacking tweets on Jewish journalists, spike. It was the largest spike that we saw in our dataset. People took that as a green line.
COOPER: Welcome back. An extraordinary and historic night, Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States.
GREENBLATT: After President Trump won, like the next day the numbers went through the roof.
BASH: People who were extremists, who were being quiet, saw an opening.
GREENBLATT: Yes. We saw extremists feeling incredibly emboldened and energized.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More than 80 Jewish community centers and schools across the country have received bomb threats in a wave of antisemitism.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Damage at this historic Jewish cemetery in Missouri, a synagogue in Chicago, and swastikas painted on this car in Boca Raton, Florida last week.
BASH (voice-over): In 2016, there was a 34 percent spike in antisemitic events. In 2017, a 57 percent increase, the largest since the ADL began tracking this. That summer, the Charlottesville rally.
LEHMAN: We did see this very strong resurgence of white supremacy and neo-Nazi rhetoric.
We would have bomb threats against Hillel where we would have leafleting across campus demonizing Jews for causing any problem in the world.
BASH (voice-over): Conspiracy theories and antisemitic hate were amplified in the spring of 2020 with the start of the COVID pandemic.
LIPSTADT: What strikes me is that irrespective of where it's coming from, people will lie on the same template of charges, Jews are controlling. Jews are conniving. Jews are clever. They're behind. They are manipulating.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fliers that had antisemitic messaging involving COVID-19.
LIPSTADT: They have been found all over the country, and it makes no sense. It would be laughable if it weren't so dangerous.
BASH (voice-over): And it was not just the far right extremists.
LEHMAN: So many hyper progressive groups that have made it their mission to destroy the State of Israel, and as part of that have brought so much hostility. But, at the same time, the white supremacist brand of antisemitism just meets up with these left-wing elements of hyper progressive anti-Zionism and antisemitism to squeeze the Jewish people right in the middle.
GREENBLATT: Antisemitism of the hard left, I like the climate change. It starts down here. It's hotter and hotter, hotter, and some people deny it. Others dismiss it. They think they can adapt. And when it gets to a point up here, it creates the space in which guess what can happen, Category Five hurricane. BASH: Are we add a Category Five hurricane now on the left?
GREENBLATT: You better believe it. I feel like the odds of a mass casualty event are extremely high right now.
BASH (voice-over): Bringing together two extremes that would lay the foundation for where we are today.
MASTERS: Jew hatred has been swept under the rug. The rug is bulging from the floor up. I mean, there is no way to ignore it right now.
GREENBLATT: We are seeing the equivalent of Charlottesville every day in America, where people are chanting pro-Hamas slogans "Jews, we will replace you", that is what we are hearing. And we can no longer afford to allow willful ignorance or utter naivete to shape the world in which we're living.
BASH (voice-over): Next, the dangerous online world of Jew hate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you clap once in front of your eyes? Thank you.
FRANKY BERNSTEIN, FOUNDER & CEO, MARKETT: My name is Franky Bernstein. I can say myself a good Jewish creator. The Jewish answer to the eggs Benedict was the lox bagel. Thanks for watching. Follow along if you're not antisemitic. There is a lot of content creators who are Jewish. But, unfortunately, if you post anything about being Jewish right now, you just kind of get swarmed in the comments. The antisemitic comment of the day award goes to this user for their creative little sticker. They didn't know. You could get that emoji very creative. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, because I've been doing this for a year now. I'm kind of numb to the hate. This is like a mean word that I get commented on a lot of my videos because I'm Jewish.
BASH (voice-over): In the fall of 2022, Franky Bernstein was startled by a jump in online hate following Kanye West's now infamous antisemitic screeds.
KANYE WEST, AMERICAN RAPPER AND SINGER-SONGWRITER: If Rom (ph) is sitting next to Obama or Jared is sitting next to Trump, there is a Jewish person right there controlling the country.
BERNSTEIN: So, the trick is you actually do it like this.
BASH (voice-over): Then, 29-year-old Bernstein decided to transform his otherwise playful social media platforms into a safe space to embrace his Jewish identity and educate others. BERNSTEIN: Yes, I'm Jewish, and this month is actually Jewish American Heritage month. So, today's my favorite Jewish holiday. It's Yom Kippur war today.
BASH (voice-over): Bernstein kept posting and his following kept growing.
BERNSTEIN: Oh, hi. Welcome.
BASH (voice-over): His new purpose was clear.
BERNSTEIN: So striking to this person say thank you, because I've been working my tokus (ph) off on this new nice Jewish community thing that I'm building. I literally had -- I'm trying to fight antisemitism. And like, everything about what I'm trying to do with nice Jewish is about just like spreading love and positivity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
BASH (voice-over): But then came October 7.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news out of Israel, Hamas militants pouring across the Gaza border in a deadly surprise attack.
BERNSTEIN: October 7 happened. It just was -- just a wave of hate was what I experienced digitally online. Thousands of comments a day just coming at me. This person said, six million Jewish people wasn't enough. Reopen the chambers. They're talking about the six million Jewish people that died in the Holocaust. Jewish people are ducking terrified right now. I'm telling you because I'm Jewish and I'm scared.
I've had like actual death threats. Like do you think I'm happy about what's going on in the Gaza Strip right now? Like it's (BEEP) awful. Sorry. I don't know (inaudible) occurs.
But, the fact, from the other side of it, people were like celebrating what happened in Israel --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the several other joyful and powerful images which came from the glorious October 7.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BERNSTEIN: -- I think and that's the problem. And so, am I worried about the physical piece of it? Of course I am. There is obviously like a real war that's going on right now. But, there is a digital war going on too. He is contagious.
OREN SEGAL, VICE PRESIDENT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE'S CENTER ON EXTREMISM: These online spaces can create troll armies.
BASH (voice-over): I first spoke with Oren Segal in 2022 at the ADL's Center for Extremism, Jew hate was already corroding the internet. SEGAL: The biggest difference I think post October 7 in terms of the online content is just the volume we saw on Telegram, which is loved by extremists across the ideological spectrum. The threats against Jews, Israelis and Zionists increased by 1,000 percent.
BASH: 1,000 percent?
SEGAL: 1,000 percent. But, many of the platforms where a lot of people get their information and where their worldview is created, there is not a lot of transparency for researchers to be able to track these threats.
BASH (voice-over): With the information they could obtain, the ADL's Center for Tech and Society found that when comparing the week prior to October 7 and the week after the 7th, antisemitism on X, formally Twitter, rose 919 percent.
SEGAL: So, this is literally before the blood had dried in Israel, I hope she gets raped into bearing Muslim children. In this case, they're referring to the women that were raped by Hamas.
BASH: People who are already inclined to hate are clearly emboldened by what they saw.
SEGAL: People who see a massacre who then go online to try to understand it and are hit over the head with message after message promoting what they just saw reinforces to them that that's OK. Some of those who are most engaged in spreading this antisemitism and hate are 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds.
BASH: 13 and 14-year-old kids?
SEGAL: Some of them are.
BASH (voice-over): Another big problem, online misinformation, and it's spreading like wildfire. This video said to be Hamas attacking Israel. In fact, it was from a video game. Plus troves of posts falsely claiming Israel is lying about the Hamas attack, and hired crisis actors to stage violence. Others falsely claiming the Palestinians called in the actors.
BASH: But, this post says among other things, I'm going to shoot up a synagogue.
BASH (voice-over): Michael Masters says a dizzying mix of hate, fear and disinformation is overwhelming social platforms.
MASTERS: We have seen coordinated efforts at misinformation and disinformation.
BASH: From whom?
MASTERS: From organizations that are trying to sow discord within the community or create fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you taking it off? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's fake news.
BASH (voice-over): Here, someone is filmed tearing down a poster of an Israeli believed to be held hostage by Hamas.
BASH: Has your concern about online radicalization gone up a lot since October 7?
MASTERS: We know that messages of hate carry through, and we see that from past historic incidents, whether it was the postings of the offender in the Pittsburgh massacre.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 11 people dead, six others wounded when a gunman opened fire on worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
MASTERS: The offender who shot up the synagogue in Poway, California.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I opened fire at a synagogue. I think I killed some people.
BASH (voice-over): The 19-year-old who injured three and killed one Jewish congregant at the Chabad of Poway in April 2019 was fully radicalized online.
SEGAL: We know the impact online hate has in the real world. And I should know, antisemitism that we see is often combined with racism and misogyny and anti-Arab and Muslim bigotry. And I want to be clear about one thing. You can care deeply about the lives of Palestinians without glorifying and justifying violence against innocent people.
BASH (voice-over): When we return --
SASSON: This is a matter of if you believe I should exist in this world or not.
RUTH STEINFELD, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: The night that we now call (inaudible), it's a night that the Nazis came into our house and proceeded to break everything we owned, and then took my father and grandfather.
BASH (voice-over): 90-year-old Ruth Steinfeld is a Holocaust survivor.
STEINFELD: The screams and cries did not diminish when we arrived at our destination. That's when the men was separated from the women, and that was the last time that I ever saw my father.
BASH (voice-over): She was only seven, and soon after her mother made a heart wrenching decision to let a French organization take her and her sister to safety.
STEINFELD: The last time I saw my mom is when she insisted that we get on that bus, and I didn't want to get on the bus. I wanted to stay with her. I had this picture of watching my mother waving goodbye to me from the street.
BASH: You experienced the kind of hate that no one should. Do you see some of that hate bubbling up here?
STEINFELD: Absolutely. It needs to be taken out of the quietness of the world and spoken so that children will able to understand.
LIPSTADT: Very often I have children of survivors saying my parents are so reassured by what you do. It's one of them. I'm getting for a clump just saying that, you know, because I don't know if I'm up to that task.
BASH (voice-over): University presidents are being called out, asking if they are up to the task.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel safe at Columbia University? I say no.
BASH: Do you feel supported in this time of rising antisemitism on campuses from your school leadership?
SASSON: Unfortunately, no. I don't.
MANN: This is where the university can come in, not in these passive statements, but about educating people.
GREENBLATT: The University has an obligation under Title VI to keep their Jewish students safe. Your free speech ends when it prevents me from speaking. College presidents need to find their spine, allowing kids to intimidate other kids, to harass other kids, to threaten other kids. I'm sorry. The university presidents get an F if they're not educating the kids on that.
BASH (voice-over): The Biden administration thinks a threat to funding could be persuasive.
MIGUEL CARDONA, U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: You have the legal responsibility under Title VI to ensure a safe learning environment. And ultimately, if we have to withhold dollars for a campus refusing to comply, we would.
CHEMERINSKY: I certainly want to see campus do more to combat antisemitism. I want to see campus do more to combat Islamophobia. But, a threat to cut off funds doesn't seem very constructive. It's just not clear what campuses will need to do in order to continue to receive money or to avoid the cut off of funds.
BASH: There is such a focus in American society right now of being very careful not to offend various cultures, various ethnicities. DEI education is a very big thing in Corporate America, in schooling. Is antisemitism even part of that?
GREENBLATT: There is no question in my mind that if you're doing DEI education to try to help your employees or your students or some cohort understand diversity and equity and inclusion, and you are not including antisemitism, you are doing it wrong. You can't be inclusive if you exclude Jews.
BASH: When you and I talked in 2022, my biggest takeaways from our conversation was education, to explain to people what antisemitism is. Does that work? Is that enough right now?
LIPSTADT: It's not enough. Whether it's as a government official, whether it's as a teacher, whether it's as a religious leader, you got to speak out.
BASH: Do speaking out work?
LIPSTADT: Staying silent doesn't work.
MASTERS: I want my kids, all kids to be safe and secure, but to be able to be proud of who they are. To show that, to demonstrate it, I refuse to take them as off my door. I refuse to be OK with somebody not wearing a keep off. That's our obligation and responsibility to our future generations, as a Jewish community, as an American community.
BASH: What do you think the solution is?
AVIV: At the end of the day, dialogue and conversation is the only way to get people to connect and share their thoughts and share their ideas.
LASKA: Many of my close friends asked me in a very kind way of asking, can you please explain to me why these projections were seen as antisemitic because I don't understand and I want to? There is this overarching feeling of nobody can engage in discourse. Nobody is able to share their opinions. And I want to have these conversations with people who are different from me. I want to be able to learn.
SASSON: I don't think this is a matter of politics. This is a matter of if you believe I should exist in this world or not.
BASH: Do you feel safe? No? As a Jew?
MANN: I don't let it consume my everyday life, and I don't let it dictate what I do.
The people who was ultimately the people who will use violence, that's when they win.