Dear Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg: Just kick the Holocaust-denying bums off of your platform, once and for all

Along with millions of other Facebook users, I am deeply disturbed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s misguided and hurtful decision to refuse to remove blatantly anti-Semitic lies denying the Holocaust from his social networking site that has 2.2 billion active monthly users.

The Holocaust is the most thoroughly documented and proven genocide in human history. The brutal murder of 6 million Jews is not an allegation to be investigated or debated – it is as indisputable a fact as the existence of the sun, the moon and the stars.  

In an interview published Wednesday by Recode, Zuckerberg said that while he found Holocaust denial to be offensive, “at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”

Zuckerberg said Facebook will remove content “if it’s going to result in real harm, real physical harm, or if you’re attacking individuals.” Otherwise, he said, “you can put up that content on your page, even if people might disagree with it or find it offensive.”

This policy is dead wrong when it comes to the Nazi genocide that had the goal of killing every Jew on Earth – including everyone in Zuckerberg’s family. Had Hitler’s “final solution” to rid the world of Jews succeed, Zuckerberg never would have been born, nor would I and millions of other Jews.    

I founded the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate Project 25 years ago. We have been meeting with Facebook officials about the giant company’s policies regarding extremism from the time it occupied a single building in Northern California.

The staff members Zuckerberg assigned to work with us always have been courteous and committed to “do the right thing” when it came to degrading the marketing capabilities of bigots and terrorists on Facebook.

Facebook assigns people to the difficult task of scouring over 1.5 billion pages on its platform in multiple languages. The company consistently gets high grades in our annual report card on the social media giants.

But from our very first meeting at Facebook, there were two categories of material that Facebook wouldn’t remove.

The first category was a series of hate-filled pages that denigrated all major religions – including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism – with a disgusting obscenity in front of each religion’s name.

Despite the fact that this century’s terrorism and the centuries of war and murders have been fueled by religious hatred, for years Facebook told us that “freedom of speech” prevented it from cleansing its site of the vile filth of such bigotry.

The second category dealt with an annual discussion we had with Facebook executives about Holocaust denial. Facebook leaders told us that such patently false posts fell under the seemingly untouchable umbrella of “historic discussions.”

Apparently, Zuckerberg still feels that way. Interestingly, when we presented online activity by the Holocaust-denying Iranian regime in 2009, Facebook agreed to amend its policy: State-sponsored Holocaust denial was understood as propaganda and was removed. But postings by individuals remained on Facebook – in the name of free speech.

So how would Facebook deal with two congressional candidates – John Fitzgerald in California and Arthur Jones in Chicago – both running in November as proud Holocaust deniers? They both know that Holocaust denial is a dog whistle for every anti-Semite and bigot to cast their votes to denigrate dead Jews and threaten live ones.

In my 40 years with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, I have come across two types of deniers of the Holocaust: Those who don’t want to accept that 6 million Jews were slaughtered and those like Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran who deny the Holocaust ever happened and want to finish Hitler’s genocidal mission to create a world without Jews.

Facebook and other social media giants are grappling with the huge headache of “fake news.” Holocaust denial is as fake as you can get.

And since Facebook says it will remove information from a site that could lead to people being physically harmed, it should recognize that the Nazis physically harmed and murdered innocent Jews – and many others – in the millions.

Holocaust denial in 2018 is the mother’s milk of Jew-hatred across the Arab and Muslim world. It depicts Jews as lowlifes who made up the whole Holocaust “business” to blackmail Germany for billions of dollars. Some Holocaust deniers even make the insane claim the Jews collaborated with Nazis in their own murders. And some say Jews act like Nazis in today’s Jewish state of Israel.

Today’s Holocaust deniers argue that since the Jews cannot be trusted to tell the truth about their past, they constitute a clear and present danger to good people today and deserve to ostracized, hated and even killed.

Tragically, American Jews continue to be the largest target of religious-based hate crimes in the United States. Just this week, Facebook and Zuckerberg himself were subject to another online anti-Semitic attack. There have been dozens of others. We know because we alert the Facebook team whenever they surface.

In Europe, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial have gone way beyond words. Jews are warned never to wear any religious symbol in public in Paris, Berlin and other European capitals for fear of physical attack. And yes, the denial of the Nazi Holocaust is a staple of anti-Jewish fanatics in the very nations where the 6 million were slaughtered.

We know Facebook won’t allow racists who falsely claim that slavery in America was beneficial to African-Americans – or deny that the immoral institution even existed here – to post their lies. That’s the right decision. The same decision should be made about Holocaust deniers.

Bottom line: We ask Mark Zuckerberg – a brilliant and proud American and a proud Jew – to throw the Holocaust-denying bums out, once and for all.

If anyone has legitimate questions the Holocaust, Facebook should direct them to the Facebook page of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. We will show them the truth.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean, Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Follow the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Facebook and on Twitter