A rabbi who used Facebook to recount the hateful speech directed at him by a follower of National of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan found that his post was censored by Facebook, which later called its action an error.
On Thursday, Rabbi Avram Mlotek posted about an encounter he had with individuals who said they were Farrakhan supporters while riding on a New York City subway. Although the post was taken down, others posted the contents on Facebook and Twitter.
From a Rabbi I hold in the highest regard: pic.twitter.com/Ah2xnrXznG
— Laura E. Adkins (@Laura_E_Adkins) November 1, 2018
“My friend since grade school, Rabbi Avram Mlotek, was verbally harassed on the subway last night. He shared his tale on FB, which was removed for hate speech (or offensive language) earlier today. Facebook, you can’t silence us,” poster Ely Winkler commented Friday.
— Hillel (@HillelIntl) May 16, 2016
“‘You a Jew, man?’ I was asked on a crowded uptown B train headed home,” Mlotek’s since-deleted post began.
“‘I am, brother,’ I replied. ‘You a real Jew, man?’ he pressed. ‘I try,’ I answered. ‘Blacks are Jews, man,’ he said. ‘Yes, Jews come in all colors, brother,’ I said. ‘Nah, I’m a real Jew,’ he said, ‘You’re an impostor,'” Mlotek wrote.
“I stopped engaging at this point while this man told me repeatedly that Israel was not mine, that I was a fraud, and that Jews are responsible for the mess we find ourselves in today in the city of New York and all over the world. He then lifted up a picture of Louis Farrakhan and asked, ‘You know who this is?’ I didn’t answer. He kept asking and asked louder. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘that’s an anti-semite.’ ‘No,’ he said, “that’s a real Jew. You’re a f***ing fake,'” Mlotek posted.
In his post, Mlotek noted that the man harassing him later used the phrase “black power” and that the only other person on the subway to interact raised his fist in a black power salute. No one spoke up for him.
Mlotek found out Friday that the post had been removed, and appealed the decision.
“Friends, Facebook has removed my post about my encounter on the subway yesterday claiming it violates community standards,” he posted Friday.
“I’ve asked for their decision to be reviewed but for the time being the post does not appear when you search for it on my wall. Hopefully this will be sorted and it will be returned shortly but let’s just say there’s something wrong with the algorithm, Mark Zuckerberg, if Facebook can’t differentiate between hate speech and reporting hate speech,” he wrote.
On Friday, the Jewish Journal quoted a Facebook email to it as saying, “We mistakenly removed the post and have restored it.”
However, as of Saturday morning, the original post did not appear on Mlotek’s page, although he reposted several times what others said when they posted his original post on their pages.
Some had said they acted to ensure that the incident would not be forgotten.
“If you have a problem with Facebook censoring the report of anti-semitism COPY AND PASTE this so that facebook can have fun taking them down (If you share the post, once the main one is taken down, all of the shares come down as well – too easy for them),” Jared Sapolsky posted.
One person noted that the issue goes beyond one incident.
“We need to get clear-eyed about antisemitism if we are ever to find a solution. What seems to be clear as of now is that antisemitism has been rising for many years and has become increasingly normalized for people from a variety of walks of life and across the political and religious spectrum,” posted Izabella Tabarovsky.
“It comes in different shapes and sizes, which means that we need to learn everything we can about it if we ever hope to defeat it. And the most important thing is that the Jewish community needs to come together to fight it regardless of political beliefs, levels of observance, and countries of residence.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.