To: Interested Parties
From: The 10/7 Project
Re: Exposing October 7th Denial Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day
Contact: [email protected]
After the Holocaust, anti-semites and conspiracy theorists tried to deny Ruth’s trauma. They said the Holocaust never happened. That Jewish people had made up the events, or were lying about the extent or had planned the violence themselves.
Today, nearly identical conspiracies are spreading about October 7th, attempting to erase and deny the violent massacre.
Despite overwhelming video and photo evidence of Hamas’s violent October 7th massacre, conspiracies denying the terrorist attack are gaining traction. Claims October 7th was a “false flag” staged by Israel or otherwise fabricated have taken hold online even though Hamas leadership has openly claimed credit for the attack.
Hamas leaders and other extremist groups in the Middle East are pushing these conspiracy theories. The head of International Relations for Hamas, Basem Naim, has falsely asserted that the group “didn’t kill any civilians” when it attacked Israel on Oct. 7, calling the claim “Israeli propaganda.”Hamas also released a propaganda document this week claiming civilians were not targeted on October 7th. Last week Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki seconded the conspiracy, saying “nobody attacked Israel.”
October 7th denial is also happening in the U.S. and the West. At an Oakland, California city council meeting in November, some residents justified Hamas’s violence or denied it altogether, shouting things like “Israel murdered their own people on October 7th,” and “the notion that this was a massacre of Jews is a fabricated narrative.” During a protest in Park City, Utah, several protestors denied Hamas’s atrocities including one who said “it’s not about Hamas… Hamas isn’t even there… in Gaza.” Many others had no knowledge of the hostages currently being held by Hamas.
Other U.S. examples of 10/7 denial include a professor at NYU who was suspended after telling students that Hamas had neither killed infants or used sexual violence on October 7th,despite overwhelming evidence and claims by U.N. experts that Hamas’s weaponization of sexual violence is a violation of humanitarian law. Additionally, Pink Floyd member Roger Waters also shared false flag conspiracies, asserting that there was something “very fishy” about the attacks.
Even mainstream media outlets have attempted to discredit Israel and the U.S. by denying certain aspects of Hamas’s terrorism, regardless of evidence. For example, claims that Hamas was operating out of hospitals were met with suspicion by news outlets including the Washington Post, only to later be confirmed by United States intelligence.
Holocaust knowledge has been declining for years, allowing the conspiracies to spread quickly in the wake of October 7th. A recent poll from YouGov and The Economist found one in five Americans ages 18 to 29 believed the Holocaust is a myth. As a result, when the October 7th attack took place there was already “a built-in audience that wants to deny that Jews are the victims of atrocity and furthers the notion that Jews are secretly behind everything,” according to Joel Finklestein, chief science officer at NCRI.
The advent of social media has only exacerbated this problem. Social media creates communities for conspiracy theorists and extremists to share anti-semitic tropes and engage in conspiratorial discourse. “The platforms have enabled extremists to pitch their ideas to more people, replacing swastikas with more broadly palatable internet memes such as Pepe the frog,” according to a report from the Washington Post.
In the wake of the October 7th attack, social media platforms experienced a surge of violent and antisemitic content. “A rise in content promoting terrorism” on TikTok and other platforms following October 7th has left social media companies grappling with their hate speech policies. Facebook, for example, refused to prohibit and classify holocaust denial as hate speech until after October 7th, despite backlash from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other Jewish groups.
As October 7th denial has grown, unfortunately so have cases of antisemitic violence. Between October 7th and December 7th, the ADL recorded 2,031 antisemitic incidents, including 40 physical assaults and one fatality. The total number of antisemitic incidents is more than four times higher than the same period in 2022. This underscores the real-world consequences of perpetuating misinformation, whether in the news or online.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, it is more important than ever to combat antisemitic misinformation and historical erasure, and to stand in solidarity with the Jewish people.