Once a fixture of American life, the restricted social club has long been assumed to be a thing of the past. But the phenomenon seems to have made a return, in a 21st-century version, in the form of a Los Angeles all-female by-invitation-only Facebook group known as Girls’ Night Out (GNO). The exclusive group has over 30,000 members, and besides being a hub for restaurant recommendations and informal conversations, has also served to help small businesses find customer, actresses auditions, and so forth. Following the killing of George Floyd, GNO endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement and became more political—and then, writes Emily Benedek, it came for the Jews:
On August 22, a young Jewish group member saw a sign hanging over the heavily trafficked 405 freeway in LA that read, “The Jews want a Race War.” It upset her, and she asked in a GNO post what others thought about it. A member suggested some Jewish representation was also needed in the group, after noticing some “fishy anti-Semitic stuff.” At first, the comments responding to this suggestion were positive.
Then, on August 29, a member posted: “I feel that the Jewish administrator who is appointed must also acknowledge the occupation of Palestine.” Within hours, every Jewish member who had tried to explain why a litmus test for a “good Jew” was anti-Semitic was thrown out. Every Jewish member who asked why an American Jew should have an opinion on a foreign matter (however incoherently phrased) was expelled. Anyone who made a comment supporting Israel, explaining the history of Israel, or who “liked” such a comment, disappeared.
Soon it became clear that a single administrator was carrying out the resulting purge. Benedek continues:
[This administrator] threw out both a Black Jewish woman who attempted to explain the Jewish point of view, and a Black Christian woman (and an administrator) who objected to anti-Semitism on the site. But no one who expressed anti-Semitic views was expelled.
Of the numerous GNO members with whom Benedek spoke or corresponded, only one was willing to give her name.