US pro-Israel Jewish group backs ban on 'antisemitic' TikTok

US pro-Israel Jewish group backs ban on 'antisemitic' TikTok
The US House of Representatives is planning to vote on a bill on Wednesday that would effectively ban TikTok in the USA in its current form
3 min read
13 March, 2024
Participants hold signs in support of TikTok outside the U.S. Capitol Building on March 13, 2024 [Getty]

One of America's largest Jewish pro-Israel groups has thrown its weight behind a proposed ban on popular video-sharing and social media app TikTok citing 'anti-Semitism' and growing criticism of Israel among its mostly young users.

American Jewish organisation, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), expressed support for the United States banning TikTok  in an open letter to the US Congress concerns such a ban would undermine Americans' freedom of speech.

"Our community understands that social media is a major driver of the rise in antisemitism and that TikTok is the worst offender by far," JFNA claimed, citing a rise in "anti-Israel" views and "overt bias and sympathy to terror with regard to the events of October 7th" shared on TikTok as evidence of antisemitism.

JFNA is an umbrella group for a large number of American Jewish organisations, all of which are also strong supporters of Israel. In the wake of the war in Gaza, it launched a $700 million fundraising drive to bring funds to Israeli groups including controversial first responder organisation Zaka.

The JFNA noted that TikTok's governmental affairs advisor in Israel resigned from the company in protest of the app's "overt bias".

The Jewish group also mentioned they would provide the US President with the necessary tools "to protect American citizens from the harm that is currently being done to our nation by TikTok".

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Critics say supporters of Israel are weaponising antisemitism to defend Israel's war on Gazaand the criminalisation of pro-Palestinian voices, including on social media.TikTok has been an important tool for activists and users to expose the genocide in Gaza and condemn Israel's atrocities.

Israeli soldiers have been sharing videos of their actions through the app, often mocking Palestinians or boasting about what are potential war crimes.

While TikTok has a reputation for censoring topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party, there have been fewer complaints than about Meta and X.

Lawmakers in the United States have been moving towards banning TikTok, accusing the app of mishandling user data, holding too much influence over Americans and claiming the app could be used to surveil Americans by gathering and exploiting their data.

The US House of Representatives is planning to vote on a bill on Wednesday that would force TikTok's parent company, ByteDance Ltd, to either sell the app or cease operations in the US.

According to Reuters, it is widely expected to pass, according to proponents and opponents. The bill would then have to make its way to the US Senate before becoming law.

TikTok was first unsuccessfully targeted by the Trump administration in 2020. However, the former President has since opposed the ban, claiming it would make Facebook, which censored him in the past, "bigger".

The current President of the United States, Joe Biden, said last week that he would support the ban.