The Jewish community is in danger of being completely overwhelmed in social media and unable to make its voice heard, says a leading global technology expert. Gary Simon, founder of DJFirst.org, the only voluntary organisation dedicated to training and preparing the community to fight back against anti-Semitism and unbalance reporting of Israel says that our inability to influence the parliamentary vote which recognised Palestine as an independent state should serve as a wakeup call for the whole community. “Our lack of engagement and failure to make even a dent on the outcome of the vote portends ill for the outcome of other vital community issues such as Shechita and Brit Milah,” he says.
MP Robert Halfon, roundly criticised Jewish Communal Organizations for their lack of visibility in social media at the time of the parliamentary vote to recognise Palestine as an independent state. Gary Simon says, “Halfon told the Jewish Chronicle what we have been saying since the summer which is that we are completely overwhelmed in social media. Conservatively, we estimate from the research we have done using social media analytics that we are outnumbered by at least ten thousand to one.”
“What the UK’s Jewish leadership have failed to grasp is that we are in a completely different environment from the anti-semitism we faced around the time of operation Cast Lead in 2009. It’s different not only because of the people involved but more crucially because of a fundamental shift in technology.” According to Gary Simon’s research, 2009 was precisely the point of inflection when the sales of smart phones and tablet PCs took off. More than 1.5 billion devices were sold and these account for around 70 percent of social media traffic. The result is that the volume of social media content has grown exponentially and it has changed the way that news is sourced, presented and consumed.
“This shift seems to have passed us by and as MP Robert Halfon says our communal bodies seems to be left in the 1970s. Robert Halfon was spot on when he said the Jewish community was virtually invisible. This is completely supported by our statistics.”
But filling the ‘social media gap’ as Simon puts it is not simply a matter of comparative volumes of traffic. “It is about effectively ‘influencing the influencers’ in the media – not simply Jews talking to Jews,” he adds.
“The performance of our communal bodies has been appalling. They were completely absent in social media from the recent vote concerning the twinning of the UK’s largest University with An-Najah University, an institution with links to Hamas that has publicly called for the annihilation of the Jewish people”
“As Robert Halfon says, we need to train vastly more numbers if we are to have a chance of stacking the odds in our favour, sustaining our arguments and making our point of view heard in politics. Perversely, we could rapidly transform the situation if the communal bodies got behind the DJFirst initiative. In the first few days of operations we trained around 80 people and we can train up to 300 an hour – all online and from the comfort of their homes.”