(JTA) — For a short time Thursday night, Twitter users could see a post that would confuse anyone plugged in to the world of Israel advocacy.
“We apartheid,” tweeted an account with the handle AIPAC, the acronym for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The account’s profile picture was the same red-and-blue Jewish star that the organization has long used on the social media platform.
The message was shocking because AIPAC is a vociferous defender of Israel against criticism, including the argument that the country perpetuates an apartheid system through its treatment of Palestinians. But it was also fake: The group had fallen victim to a wave of spoofs, falsification and abuse unleashed by Elon Musk’s recent acquisition of Twitter.
Only by looking closely could a user see that the account belonged to “AIPAC_USA,” not “AIPAC,” where the group has long posted. The impersonating account was deleted but not before the tweet had been seen and amplified thousands of times. It even got engagement from accounts impersonating other prominent figures. “Totally agree,” responded @KariLakeAZ, a fake account purporting to belong to the far-right Republican candidate for governor who is lagging in Arizona’s vote count.
The spoof was one of countless instances of impersonation meant to provoke reactions or sow chaos that have unfolded since Musk paid $44 billion to buy the platform two weeks ago. He has swiftly made steep layoffs and abrupt changes to moderation and authentication rules, all while tweeting crass and controversial content himself. The turmoil has sent users, advertisers and employees packing, while opening the floodgates to bad actors on the site.
Musk has also continually tweeted out different sets of rules concerning impersonations on the platform; by Thursday, he said that “parody” accounts must include that word in their names.
A slew of top executives, including those responsible for privacy and legal compliance, have left the company in recent days, according to media reports. But until Thursday night, a top leader who had led efforts to keep hate speech off the platform, Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, had remained in place and seemingly in Musk’s favor, tweeting explanations of his new boss’ decrees and assurances that the company was taking hate speech seriously. He even appeared alongside Musk in a meeting meant to placate panicked advertisers on Wednesday.
But at the same time as the fake AIPAC account’s “likes” mounted, Roth added a single word to his Twitter bio: “former.” Whether he quit amid the chaos or was pushed out is not clear, but his departure from the company was an especially worrying sign for those who have held out hope that the Musk-induced turmoil would ultimately recede.
Roth had been a polarizing figure at the company while also serving as the public face for its efforts to root out hate. A gay Jewish man who openly tweeted about his identity (he once tweeted that a DNA test revealed him to be “Extremely F—ing Jewish”) and his liberal views, he drew the wrath of Twitter’s right-wing critics. Right after the inauguration of Donald Trump, he tweeted that there were “ACTUAL NAZIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE.”
In his role, Roth led efforts to address surges of antisemitic harassment on Twitter. Last week, with bots and trolls surging again amid Musk’s takeover, he tweeted about efforts to remove them and said, “Twitter’s policies haven’t changed. Hateful conduct has no place here.” In his final tweet prior to his departure, he said efforts to suppress hateful content had been largely successful.
Some of Roth’s lighter tweets, which became less frequent in recent years as he became more of a public figure, include Jewish content. In 2017, he posted about a children’s book in Hebrew about a cat who sits on a rug and abides while other animals join it. Eventually it’s too much for the cat, who hisses at the other animals, scaring them away.
“So basically, this book is the most concise possible explanation of my personality,” Roth said.
Roth’s departure means that Twitter has lost virtually all of the executives responsible for ensuring safety and security on the site. With the disorder unfolding in public view, parodists and provocateurs are seizing every opportunity to add malicious content to the platform.
Along with AIPAC, other Jewish groups have been ensnared in the trend. Also on Thursday night, a fake account impersonating the Anti-Defamation League posted a picture of Henry Ford, the famously antisemitic car manufacturer, and tweeted, “We’re so glad to be here. Elon Musk is the #HenryFord of our time. Innovation is a miracle!”
The tweet, which came from @ADL_Official, not the actual @ADL account, did not last long on the site. It was a reference to a real comment from ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt from just a month ago, when he praised Musk on TV as following in Ford’s tradition of innovation and said he was cautiously optimistic about Musk’s then-approaching ownership. Greenblatt apologized for his comments exalting Ford immediately and publicly lost confidence in Musk shortly afterwards.
Last week, with antisemitism spiking on the platform, the ADL urged advertisers to boycott it, and many are doing so.
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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