Amazon’s Algorithmic Anti-Semitism

Nov. 19 2018

While doing some research on anti-Semitism, Yair Rosenberg plugged the words “history of the Rothschilds” into Amazon’s search engine. The first three books that turned up were works of deranged anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists, prompting Rosenberg to do some further experiments:

A search for “who did 9/11” yields [as its] number-one search result [a book by one] Nick Kollerstrom, who is a “longtime member of Britain’s 9/11 truth group.” Among other conspiracies, the book contains an entire chapter entitled “9/11 and Zion” which blames the attack on the Jews. . . . Similarly, if one searches for “Jews and the slave trade,” the second, fourth, and fifth results are not scholarship on the subject but notoriously anti-Semitic publications from Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. Farrakhan has worked for years to mainstream the baseless anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews were behind the African slave trade. . . .

The problem here is not that Amazon sells anti-Semitic material. . . . It’s that the company . . . has not trained its algorithm to discount it. If human librarians were asked about the Rothschilds . . . or Jews and the slave trade, they would know how to distinguish between conspiratorial rantings and genuine [scholarship]. They would also likely be aware of the anti-Semitic canards swirling around these subjects, and would steer interested readers away from them. Amazon’s vaunted search engine, perfectly tuned to maximize sales and the user’s shopping experience, has no such cultural competency.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Internet, Louis Farrakhan, Politics & Current Affairs

Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror

In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’être for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.

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More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror