Tracking Antisemitism-Reflection

I switched back and forth on my topic…a lot. I kept thinking ‘too big’ and even when I was told to narrow it down, I just couldn’t conceptualize that. I wanted something that explained this big idea I had. I wanted something that would show that I wanted this big digital project even if I couldn’t create it.

And so here we are. I started off creating a mock website on Tumblr and then got sidetracked with writing a mock grant. This final project is a combination of both. I created a prototype website on tumblr, with a definition of how antisemitic incidents will be collected. The prototype also has a ‘Submit an Incident’ portion that is monitored through Google forms and places all submitted incidents into a chart. I decided to write up a mock NEH public digital grant. In my application, I explain the nature of this project and its importance to the world of digital history and what this project will bring to the public.

I know that there’s a lot of work to be done on this project. That was clear to me as I was working on this grant. I had to figure out how to explain what this project would look like in words. It was really hard (even hypothetically) to ask for money for something that doesn’t exist.

I’m really proud of this idea and with sculpting from the help of my peers and Dr. Owens, I think this project combines both digital and public history. One quote from this class has stuck with me since I first heard it and that’s “become digital or become irrelevant.” I’ve taken things I’ve learned from this class and incorporated it into other classes. This class has helped me become more comfortable with the digital and using that platform to get people interested in history and current events. In my personal opinion, I think digital projects are the bridge we need from the past to current events. That’s how I see Tracking Antisemitism. This project bridges past antisemitism with the increased antisemitism we’re seeing today.

Anyway, here’s the website:  https://www.tumblr.com/blog_auth/trackingantisemitism

And here’s my grant:

Tracking Antisemitism

Abstract 

As of 2018 there are only two websites that are home to tracking incidents of antisemitism. Anti-Defamation League audits antisemitic incidents over a twelve-month period and publishes it at the beginning of each new year.  The second tracker of antisemitism is the AMCHA Initiative. Both of these two websites will be explained later.

This digital tracker will automatically put information into an excel spreadsheet that counts anything categorized as an “antisemitic” event or incident as pre-determined by the authors of the project. An alert will be set on the host site/server that inputs the information based on what is published on the Internet.

These sites of publication on the Internet can include news alerts from credible news companies: BBC, CNN, Fox, local news companies, etc. Incidents reported on social media sites will also be inputted-these sites can include Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

The majority of the funding of this grant will go towards creating a website that has an automatically generated component. The tracker will break incidents into quarterly reports (every four months). The staff of the website will be responsible for auditing the incidents that the generator has recorded. This way, the incidents can later be mapped and placed into context and categories.

As the website prototype stands now, the current incidents reported are through crowdsourcing. The most basic form will be google forms embedded into the website that will take the information submitted via the google forms and then put into an excel spreadsheet. The website will have to be monitored through an administrator as the definition of what counts as an antisemitic incident changes based on national level, state level, and personal level. For the purposes of this project, all incidents will be filed under the definition given by Yad Vashem-Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The second component of this website is its historical context. The purpose of this project is to increase awareness and understanding of antisemitism. However, that cannot be accomplished without the debunking of the myth that antisemitism is a new trend or only happened around the time of the Holocaust. When the project launches there will be two specific historical times that will have already been catalogued and mapped. The first map will focus on antisemitic incidents between 1840-1860, the second wave of Jewish immigration largely from German Jews who were escaping persecution in Germany. Antisemitic incidents from this time will be pulled from Cincinnati and New York City. To locate incidents, individuals will look at police reports, housing locations, jobs, and if any immigrants changed their Jewish names to more Americanized ones. The second time will be 1946-1950 starting right after the Kielce pogrom in Poland. The Kielce pogrom started after a Christian Polish boy disappeared and then reappeared days later, citing to his family and the local police that he had been kidnapped by the Jewish Holocaust survivors all living in a home together, to use him for blood (commonly referred to as blood libel). The police and the town citizens marched on the house and after an unknown shot was fired, the townspeople viciously beat the fleeing Jews. At the end of the day 42 Jews had been killed. The Kielce pogrom demonstrated to the Jewish survivors that they had no future in Poland, a country still rife with antisemitism. In the three months following the pogrom over 75,000 Jews left Poland.

The choice of these two events is significant because they debunk the myth that antisemitism only happened during the Holocaust and not in the United States. While the automated tracker portion of the website will be working 24/7, other members of the production team can continuously research other events tracing, antisemitism as far back as documented to help create a holistic, comprehensive narrative of antisemitism. By understanding and analyzing the history of antisemitic incidents, this can help point towards a future without antisemitism.

The last component of the project will be its occasional blog posts posted on the site written by members of the staff, as well as guest writers. The posts will include historical context, current incidents of antisemitism and debatable topics about Jewish culture, life, the Holocaust and antisemitism.

Nature of the Request:

     The idea for this project arose out of a class project in my Digital History and New Media course. I wanted to create an automated tracker that would record incidents of antisemitism. This automated tracker would show the public that antisemitism is rooted deep in our history but has never gone away, it just takes the background and then becomes front and center during times of stress or particular problems. Antisemitism also saw an increase in recognition after the Holocaust happened, although there was the myth that antisemitism disappeared with the global coverage of what the Nazis had committed.

The purpose of this request is to help increase global awareness of worldwide and local antisemitic incidents.

Related Projects:

       There are two other similar trackers, that have helped model the idea of this project. The audits done every year by the Anti-Defamation League and the AMCHA initiative.  

      Anti-Defamation League audits antisemitic incidents over a twelve-month period and publishes it at the beginning of each new year.  The audit published by the ADL includes both criminal and non-criminal incidents acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs. These are compiled by victims, law enforcement and community leaders and then is evaluated by the staff of ADL. The ADL has been tracking antisemitic incidents since 1979.

In the first quarter of 2017 (3 months) there was an 86 percent increase from 2016. In this three-month period there have been 541 antisemitic incidents which include: 380 harassment incidents, an increase of 127 percent; 155 vandalism incidents, an increase of 36 percent.

The second tracker of antisemitism is the AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit organization that documents incidents related to 3 rules: (1) Targeting Jewish students and staff; (2) Antisemitic expression; (3) BDS activity at high schools or institutions of higher learning in the United States. A majority of the criteria has been derived from the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism.

Audience and Distribution:

      Tracking Antisemitism will be its own website and therefore will be serve as its own host. I would like to have the site showcased by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for New Media and Matrix at Michigan State University. Not only have these centers created a name for themselves in the world of Digital History, they also have a wonderful staff trained in production, understanding, and distribution of digital history. As the site gains traction, the staff will work towards building a partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, the Materials Claim Conference of Germany, Yad Vashem, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

 

Project Evaluation:

 There will be two evaluations done for this project. A front-end evaluation was preliminarily done during the duration of Digital History and New Media course. A fifteen week course with approximately fifteen other graduate students who provided feedback and listened to ideas about tracking antisemitic incidents. I learned how one can code a simple website. I was introduced to other platforms to host a prototype of this site (i.e. Tumblr) and was given feedback on how to make this project more historically based, as well as what the future of this project could look like. A second front-end (I’ll call it front-end) was the poster session during our class. I heard myself explain the project out loud and answered questions and this helped me understand how I could make the project more user-friendly and the real purpose of the project. After the poster session, I was able to explain the project at its bare bones, instead of circling around trying to reach the main point.

 

The second evaluation will be a formative evaluation done towards the end of the production timeline. This will be about three-five months before the website goes live/launches. The formative evaluation will show how well the automated tracker is working, by double-checking the incidents that have been catalogued. The partnering institutions that are working with the production staff, will be involved in the evaluation to see how user-friendly the interface is and if the navigation of the website makes sense.

Project Timeline:

Total: 3-5 years

1st Year: Production and Design of the Website (and the automated tracker)

               Archive Tracking and Mapping of 1840s antisemitic incidents

 2nd Year: Continued Design of the Website

                Archive Tracking and Mapping of 1946-1950 antisemitic incidents

 3rd Year: Website Finished-webpage on two historical antisemitic incidents                           with its maps  

                Tracker will go live, recording & cataloging incidents starting in Oct.-                           Dec. 

 4th Year: Production Team is working in the archives, searching and reporting                     on past antisemitic incidents  

              Website goes live

             Tracker starts recording incidents starting in January of the new year       

 

 Budget

 

Total Cost: 1,000,000 Website design (one time cost): $10,000

Website maintenance/month: $175

 

Production Staff:

(I didn’t have enough information to fill out the excel spreadsheet but I wanted to include it for future work on this project)

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