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)

Digital History Project Draft-Tracking Antisemitism (Procopio)

To visit a working version of my digital history project please follow this link: https://trackingantisemitism.tumblr.com/  It is password protected. If you would like the password please plan to take me to Gettysburg. After we visit said site, I will give you the password on edible paper. You must memorize the password and then eat the paper. Then you may access my site.

 

 

 

Just kidding…kinda. The password is: makeachange2018

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 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.

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.

A major component of this website will be its ability to crowdsource. 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.

 

Week 10 Practicum: Audacity

 

Audacity is the other practicum we are learning about this week, in relation to oral histories. Audacity is an easily downloadable program that you can use on your computer. The purpose of Audacity is to create an edited/final version of an oral recording.

While you can use Audacity to record, I would not recommend it. I have not used Audacity to record and most oral historians I’ve worked with would advise against it as well. You have to connect a microphone, instrument and mixer before you can start recording and that is all dependent on the sound quality of the equipment you are using. It is much easier to get a recorder and conduct your interview on that and then import it to Audacity. 

Once you have your recording and it’s on your computer, usually as .wav file you can import it into Audacity. Audacity will import files out into mp3 files, so you can use it for that if that’s all you need.

This is what Audacity will look like when you first open it. Once you import a recording it will look like this: 

To import audio, you’ll go to ‘File’, then ‘Import’ and select the audio you want to bring in. 

After you do that, you can add new tracks-this is under ‘Tracks’ and then you’ll select ‘Add new’. You’ll select ‘mono’ if you want to have a one new track. Stereo allows you to have more than one. This is the next step if you are planning on cutting and editing your audio, for example is there a part of your audio that you want to cut because your interviewee says something off-track, or there’s a really long silence. You can also move parts of the audio around-say take minutes “2:24 to 4:50” would have a nice lead in by minutes “8:16”, you can select and edit certain parts of the audio to sit right by each other.  Now this is all for one audio recording. If you have done three interviews and you want to have one final recording that includes all three, you’ll use three different tracks to come up with a final version.

When you’re working with different tracks, you can mute one so you can listen to the audio on just one track. It will look like this:

You are also able to zoom in on Audacity to see second by second plays which makes the selection and cutting of audio easier. 

An important tip about Audacity: you can’t start another function after playing the audio. If you hit the play button, and then pause, you must hit the stop button before Audacity allows you to do another function. 

When you are ready to export your audio from Audacity you will go to ‘File’, click ‘Export Audio’ and then you can export and save as whatever file you want.  

Unfortunately, you can’t save what you’re working on from Audacity. It does not allow you to save an edited audio file so make sure when you start using Audacity you have allotted a certain amount of time to complete what work you need to do, or you can export what you have completed and just re-insert into Audacity the next time to finish your work.

Audacity (like most of the practicums we’ve had) is hard to explain in a blog post. I’m a visual learner and so it’s easier for me to explain Audacity by walking through the steps. Audacity is also a program that is a lot of trial and error. I learned how to use Audacity by just consistently messing around with it. Even I still don’t know everything about it. I have found an Audacity Wiki tutorial page that goes through any problem you could possibly encounter on Audacity.  Feel free to use it for anything you’re doing on Audacity. There are also really good Youtube tutorials on how to use Audacity if you are ever feeling stuck.

https://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Category:Tutorial

P.S. I am including files of my first project using Audacity during my undergrad. It’s a compilation of different audio examining the memory of individuals on 9/11. You can browse through and see the different steps from my first audio to the final version. Please no judgement, I thought it might be helpful to see how I learned how to use Audacity.

Alright…well those are the two files of my mid-term project. The different final versions are too large for this site…oops!

 

Archivists Beyond Borders (Digital archives in other platforms)

How do you use a digital archive?

Digital archives are not just compiled archives by professionals. They can be created by archivists, librarians, historians, amateurs, non-profit or for-profit companies. Because digital archives can be created by a host of individuals, the purpose and criteria for the particular archive are important to know. When searching a digital archive, you should always be prepared with questions: “where does this content fit in the digital collection?”, “why were some items excluded?”, “how was this archive created?” As Kate Theimer says in her AHA conference paper, digital archives are making an argument, just like any other archive, and we must approach it the same way.

Digital archives can also contribute to breaking down the historically white, male dominated archive. In Kimberly Christen’s piece “Archival Challenges and Digital Solutions in Aboriginal Australia,” we see how a digital archive both saves important Aboriginal historical and community based information while limiting what information is available to outsiders. This allows the Aboriginals to control how their history is saved and who has access to it, a courtesy that archives have historically denied native communities. Similarly, Jarret Drake’s piece “Expanding #ArchivesForBlackLives to Traditional Archival Repositories” brings up valuable insights into the traditional limitations of archives (language, distance, cost of travel, etc.) and practical subjects like needing a state-issued ID to gain access to the documents. He also touches on the importance of working with the community being archived to build trust and make sure that the archive is accessible to those whose history is being recorded.

Susan Sontag’s “born digital” collection is an excellent example of exploring the fine line between electronic preservation and the privacy of her personal life, as examined by Jeremy Schmidt and Jacquelyn Adram. Sontag kept a massive collection of her works, digitally, saved on her computer and hard-drives to be accessed by the public upon her death. Sontag was committed to protecting her privacy during her lifetime, yet she opened up her life to the public, in a digital format no less, after her demise. Sontag’s born-digital archives demonstrates the journey from traditional archives to born-digital, yet leaves room for users to explore these new digital archives. However, Sontag’s born-digital archive opens up room for questions about what should be preserved and what, if anything, should remain private?

The question of privacy is also explored in Jules’ article, “Preserving Social Media Records of Activism.” Social media accounts, particularly Twitter, have begun to play a larger role in documenting reactions of activism (largely in situations of race). Twitter has been thought of as a personal bubble and space where individuals can document their thoughts and feelings. But now Twitter, has become its own sort of digital archive, with tweets being viewed as primary source documents that can be preserved for future generations to see reactions and feelings on incidents of activism and social movements. The social media platforms, like Twitter, have also brought a spotlight on situations that otherwise would not have been recognized and have brought forth preservation of these events.

Questions:

How do digital archives help break down the race/gender/class barrier that traditional archives have historically created? Do any authors (thinking of Drake in particular) offer practical solutions to addressing these issues with physical archives, or is this simply something digital archives can fix?

Should spaces like Twitter, preserve documentation of events, like Ferguson? What would that look like? Is it even feasible (thinking legality, privacy, etc.)?

Do tweets made by political figures, like Trump, count as archival material? What would the different authors say?

Digital Project-Tracking Antisemitism Blog (Micaela Procopio)

The Holocaust is an incredibly well-known event. Now, it’s practically impossible to meet someone who hasn’t picked up a piece of literature on the Holocaust. The United States alone, has over thirty museums, dedicated to the education and awareness of the Holocaust. A core value of the missions many of these Holocaust museums emphasize is the need to understand the root causes of the Holocaust. Historians are continuing to debate this particular topic but in a small takeaway, the causes of the Holocaust are rooted in the desire of power and intolerance. Once the Holocaust and World War II was over, anti-semitism was not. A few short weeks after liberation, Polish Jewish Holocaust Survivors were attacked in Kielce. This anti-semitic attack against Holocaust survivors has not been the only instance of prejudice against Jewish people.

This digital project will seek to create a timeline of anti-semitic incidents in the United States, while offering an interpretation on those events curated by the author of the site, along with outside individuals as contributors. The project will also include a mapping component of anti-semitic incidents that are appearing in the United States. The project will start at one date, so if this project prevails in the duration of this class, then the incidents will start within 1-3 weeks before and then updated on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The site would operate similar to the work done by Elissa Frankel at the United States Holocaust Museum with her research allowing citizen work. The site author would curate all posts by outside contributors making sure they are appropriate to the mission of the site, as well as being insightful and correct in its information. This allows for a digital collaboration and also helps to balance out the many instances of anti-semitism.

Currently, there are two popular digital systems for antisemitism tracking. The first is the AMCHA Initiative Antisemitism Tracker.[1] The AMCHA is a non-profit organization that focuses on investigating, documenting, educating about and combat antisemitisms in institutions of higher learning in America-particularly focusing on high schools and universities.[2] Their new database documents anti-Semitic incidents in state high schools and universities in the past year. The incidents are organized into three categories: targeting Jewish Students and Staff, Antisemitic Expression and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Activities. This is particularly trying to address anti-Semitic incidents that appear to target Jewish students. The second antisemitism tracker is operated by the Diaspora Ministry, with the intent to detect anti-semitic content on the Internet. The software is called Anti-Semitism Cyber Monitoring System.[3] Its purpose tracks antisemitic posts on social media and can detect how widely the posts have been shared, who is sharing the posts and which cities and countries produce the most antisemitic content. The software uses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism and monitors posts that are in English, Arabic, French and German on the platforms of Facebook and Twitter.

This digital project will attempt to build a middle ground between these two digital systems. This project will be collaborative and open up interpretation to a variety of users, thus making it easier to analyze and explore different platforms. This project will monitor online media outlets, newspapers, as well as social media. The difference in this project and the prior two systems I’ve mentioned is that the incidents focused on antisemitism are monitored via computer systems and these situations are selected by individuals.

[1] “AMCHA Initiative New Antisemitism Tracker Arrives” AMCHA. https://amchainitiative.org/antisemitism-tracker-arrives-2016

[2] AMCHA is the Hebrew word meaning “Your People” and also connotes “grassroots”, “the masses” and “ordinary people”

[3] “Diaspora Ministry unveils system for tracking online anti-Semitism.” The Times of Israel. Toi Staff. Published 25 January 2018. Accessed 20 February 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/diaspora-ministry-unveils-system-for-tracking-online-anti-semitism/