Earlier this week, as President Joe Biden flew to San Francisco to meet with General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping, nearly 300,000 supporters came to the National Mall in Washington D.C. to participate in the March for Israel.
Despite this public display of overwhelming support, fear and uncertainty have become a part of the daily reality for Jewish Americans.
As the war in the Middle East continues, antisemitism in the United States has reached historic levels. Tragically, many of these incidents are occurring on university campuses across the country, threatening and intimidating young, Jewish American students.
At Cornell University, classes were canceled after a series of violent threats against Jewish students caused “extraordinary stress.”
At Tulane University, a student who witnessed the assault of three fellow students during a pro-Palestinian off-campus protest, described the clash as “the most extreme” antisemitism they had ever experienced.
And at Cooper Union, Jewish students were barricaded in the university’s library while pro-Palestinian protesters pounded on the locked doors.
Although these are just a few troubling examples, recent polling makes clear that support for Hamas is starkly higher among young Americans. Among voters ages 18-24, 48 percent support Hamas over Israel in the current conflict, and 51 percent think the terrorists’ killing of 1,200 Israeli civilians was justified, according to a Harvard/Harris poll.
As it turns out, many of these young people are getting their news regarding the Israel-Hamas War from TikTok. The New York Post recently interviewed more than a dozen protestors at an anti-Israel rally and reported that “their opinions about the Israel-Hamas war were shaped mainly by Instagram and TikTok accounts – and to a lesser extent their school professors.” Bear in mind that TikTok is the top search engine for more than half of Gen Z, and 76.2 percent of 18-24-year-olds use the app.
A director with End Jew Hatred, Michelle Ahdoot, told the Post that the trend of young people tearing down Israeli hostage posters and participating in anti-Israel protests is largely fueled by ignorance. “They’ve been brainwashed into thinking they are doing something in the name of social justice,” Ahdoot said.
TikTok recently came under fire for the rampant antisemitism plaguing the platform.
An open letter signed by celebrities including Amy Schumer, Debra Messing, and Isaac Mizrahi, blasted the app for its failure to protect Jewish content creators and users from harassment and called for action.
The letter stated, “The daily reality for Jewish content creators on TikTok includes death threats, endless threatening comments on posts (many just for being Jewish), and a barrage of harassment in all forms on TikTok-facilitated interaction. … It’s relentless and, worst of all, it’s largely permitted.”
Unfortunately, antisemitic content on TikTok is not a new problem. A University of Jaifa study that was released more than two years ago found a 912 percent increase in antisemitism on TikTok from 2020 to 2021.
As the app exploded in popularity, so too did the hateful, divisive content.
Though TikTok issued a statement on its website that affirmed that antisemitism is prohibited, the most recent allegations call to mind the concerns that have surrounded the platform since its introduction in the United States.
TikTok is owned by the Chinese company Bytedance, meaning it operates at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) because private companies do not exist in Communist China. To further expound upon this point, consider that the chief editor of Bytedance is also the head of the company’s internal Communist Party cell.
Despite numerous national security warnings from CIA Director William J. Burns, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and other intelligence chiefs, TikTok and Bytedance’s aggressive lobbying efforts in Washington have hindered attempts in Congress to ban the platform or to force its sale to a U.S. company.
In a recent op-ed titled “Why Do Young Americans Support Hamas? Look at TikTok,” Representative Mike Gallagher, Chairman of the House Select Committee on China, pointed to the “fact that the CCP uses TikTok to push its propaganda and censor views that diverge from the party line.”
Gallagher added, “If you doubt that the CCP would introduce bias—against Israel, against Jews, against the West, or anything else—into apps under its de facto control, consider that on October 31, The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese web platforms Baidu and Alibaba have wiped Israel off the map—literally. The two most widely used mapping programs in China show the outlines of Israel’s territory but do not label it as Israel.”
In an interview with Fox News, Gallagher added, “If you don’t think the Chinese Communist Party could or would weaponize that platform… to increase division in this country, then you’re not paying attention.”
The prevalence of antisemitism on TikTok must serve as a wake-up call for Congress to take action against this platform, controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. It is imperative that TikTok be banned or sold to an American company.
This article was adapted from Gingrich 360 – a multimedia production company based in Arlington, Virginia, featuring the work of Speaker Newt Gingrich and Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich.