In a bizarre twist, Facebook’s Jewish CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, was inundated with anti-Semitic comments after he posted a photo that was in itself an anti-Semitic trope.
Is Zuckerberg’s dog Jewish?
Last Tuesday, Zuckerberg posted a photo to his platform of his family dog, Puli breed of a Hungarian sheepdog named Beast, to the Facebook group, Dogspotting Society. Beast was wearing a tallit (prayer shawl) and kippah (head covering for men).
The image gathered over 7,600 comments. But it also garnered over 8,000 negative reactions. The negative reactions were not anti-dog or anti-Beast who has over two million followers on Facebook. Another post showing Beast sporting a red-white-and-blue headband got over 6,000 positive reactions and over 600 comments with no negative responses.
Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism
A disturbing number of the comments to the tallit-wearing sheepdog contained hate-filled pro-Palestinian sentiments. It is interesting to note that in this instance, anti-Zionism is clearly intended as hatred of Jews and Judaism.
In fact, the Anti-Defamation League reported that during the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza, there was a 75% spike in anti-Semitic incidents, most notably on social media.
Even before its CEO (who is not known to be pro-Israel) was targeted by anti-Zionism, Facebook was stymied by the question of whether to treat Israel-hatred as inherently anti-Jewish. Under the current policy, the Israel-hating posts targeting Zuckerberg do not violate the community guidelines against hate speech.
But some of the comments were explicitly anti-Jewish. “UR VIOLATING THE RULES MARK BY NOT POSTING A DOG PIC,” one user commented. “Where’s the f—— dog, Mark?!?” said another. Many others responded with flags of Palestine.
The implication was that the picture of the sheepdog was, in fact, a photo of a Jew.
Jews are dogs is an anti-Semitic trope that was widely used in Nazi Germany as it dehumanized the race they were targeting for genocide. Signs were posted outside of businesses warning, “No dogs or Jews allowed,” a slogan still used by anti-Semitic groups to this day.
The American Jewish Committee responded on Twitter, condemning the anti-Semitic responses. “No one is safe from Jew-hatred. Not even Mark Zuckerberg‘s dog. Facebook‘s CEO posted a cute picture of his pet wrapped in a scarf and with a kippa on his head. He has since been inundated with antisemitic abuse. We must make sure social media platforms are free of hate.”
No one is safe from Jew-hatred. Not even Mark Zuckerberg‘s dog.@Facebook‘s CEO posted a cute picture of his pet wrapped in a ✡️ scarf and with a kippa on his head.
He has since been inundated with antisemitic abuse.
We must make sure social media platforms are free of hate.
— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) July 14, 2021
A tallit on a dog: dehumanizing Judaism
Ironically, Zuckerberg’s post that was targeted by so much anti-Semitism was, in itself, anti-Semitic. Though the “tallit” that Beast wore was clearly not kosher, placing objects that are considered holy to Judaism or are part of holy rituals onto animals is clearly disrespectful to Judaism and dehumanizes the religion. In a similar case, in 2019, the New York Times apologized after depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog wearing a Jewish star necklace and pro-Israel US President Trump wearing a yarmulke.
Facebook has had difficulty with its policy concerning anti-Semitism. In 2018, Zuckerberg defended the rights of Holocaust deniers to air their views on Facebook but in 2020, the company changed Its official policy to ban Holocaust denial as hate speech. In practice, its algorithms block anti-Holocaust posts as well as posts intended to foster Holocaust education.
Zuckerberg was raised in a Reform Jewish household but later claimed to be an atheist. He later claimed that he’s grown more religious over the last few years as a result of fatherhood. His wife Priscilla Chan is Buddhist.