On Saturday, a Twitter user with the handle @RabbiDavidGold1 tweeted out, “Fellow Jews, we must do a better job to address our Jewish privilege” along with an image that read, “When 1.4% of the US dominates political funding, media, Hollywood, government, finance, law, academia, and foreign policy and somehow nobody puts the words ‘Jewish’ and ‘privilege’ together.”
The account supposedly belonged to a rabbi named David Goldberg and was one of many stridently left-wing Jewish Twitter accounts that, over the weekend, called for an acknowledgment of “Jewish privilege,” an end to “Jewish racism” and ultimately an end to the state of Israel. They tweeted things like “I am Jewish and see…hatred towards European people from Jews every day” and “I can’t tell you how saddening it is to hear my fellow Jews talking down to people of color – referring to them as mere goyem trash.” They had names like Simon Edelson and Chaim Adelberg.
None of them were real people. As discovered by Tablet Magazine senior writer Yair Rosenberg, all of these accounts were fake profiles created with stolen photos of real people like Israeli writer Hen Mazzig and the husband of an editor at Forward magazine. The network of accounts all seem to have been created after a now-archived thread on the white supremacist breeding ground that is 4chan’s “politically incorrect” board /pol called for “a massive movement of fake Jewish profiles” on Facebook and Twitter.
“Since Jews shapeshift into whites anytime they want, we can do the same to them,” the post reads, going on to state that “LARPing [live-action role playing] as a Jew has the benefit of being uncensored by big tech” and that trolls who posed as Jews “also have the benefit of labeling anyone an anti semite [sic] who disagrees with you. Use this to your advantage.” The post continued:
As a Jew, normies will listen to you. Especially boomers. You can take the blame for world events. Post redpill facts about your fellow Jews. Slave trade, monetary facts, mass media, porn industry etc…etc… Being a Jew, you are able to subvert Jews themselves. Since Jewishness is 100% based on supremacism, you can use the same tactics they have used to dismantle our own society. You can push for more diversity in Israel, for example. More race mixing…etc…etc…If your fellow Jews disagree, call them Nazi’s, racists, bigots, xenophobes. LOVE WILL WIN. Bring ICE detainees to Israel.
The stated goal for the disinformation campaign is the same as every single other one of these 4chan campaigns: to sow disdain for left-wing activism and provoke infighting within a marginalized community. The original post is so open about that agenda that it’s clear 4chan trolls feel no need to hide their intentions. Openly pushing anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric on social media has few long-term ramifications. Twitter has been reluctant to ban white supremacist accounts or address these campaigns with structural changes.
In this case, most of the accounts have been suspended and a Twitter spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that they had been made aware of the fake profiles after Rosenberg’s thread exposing them went viral. “Based on our investigations, we have already permanently suspended several accounts. When we find accounts in violation of our policies, we take action according to our rules,” the spokesperson said.
But relying on the amateur detective work of a few users isn’t a policy, and won’t prevent trolls from doing it again. Contrary to the impression Twitter’s inability to proactively respond might give off, this isn’t unprecedented. Other sock-puppeting campaigns targeting different groups spawned on 4chan. In the 2014 #EndFathersDay campaign, trolls posed as black feminists only to get outed by the very people they sought to infiltrate. Some of those accounts were suspended once users mass-reported them. Still, the black women that spotted them found it easier to share block lists than wait for Twitter to respond. Similarly, the fake Jewish accounts never seemed to fool actual Jewish users. They did, however, manage to provoke the exact infighting response that 4channers relish. In calling out the sock puppet accounts, some users attributed the new network of anti-Semitic anti-Israel critics to the left-wing Jewish organization Jewish Voice for Peace. Though they quickly walked those claims back once the 4chan hoax was revealed by Rosenberg, the tweets claiming that JVP was “owned” or that they were “trotting out fake Orthodox Jews to shore up its Jewish credentials” are still up.
This isn’t even the first time Rosenberg specifically has called out impersonators. In the wake of the 2016 election, when Jewish journalists were inundated with waves of violent anti-Semitic harassment, Rosenberg created a bot with San Francisco-based developer Neal Chandra. Using a carefully curated “crowdsourced database of impersonator accounts…the bot patrolled Twitter and interjected whenever impostors tried to insinuate themselves into a discussion,” Rosenberg wrote in a 2017 New York Times op-ed. Twitter banned the bot because white supremacists mass-reported it for harassment.