By Stacey Dresner
When we last spoke with Liora Rez in 2017, the Connecticut resident went by the handle “Jewish Chick” and was a social media influencer with more than 90,000 Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat followers.
Her Instagram page, “Where Fashion and Judaism collide” featured sponsored content – photographs of fashion accessories and Rez in designer clothes.
But Rez also shared some posts promoting Israel and Judaism – articles about Israeli tourism and culture, and pro-Israel opinion pieces.
Now with antisemitism skyrocketing here in the U.S. and around the world, the ardently Zionist, proudly Jewish Rez is also using her growing online presence to fight antisemitism.
In 2018, Rez founded the website StopAntiSemitism.org, a non-profit foundation that exposes and monitors online antisemitism and other acts of Jew-hatred around the world. Currently, the site’s reach on social media exceeds 750,000 views per month.
“I wanted to start making a difference with the large audience I accumulated on the Jewish Chick platforms,” says Rez, who serves as the organization’s executive director. “I thought I had something so good here that I needed to share it with the audience and stop being quiet about antisemitism that was going on in everyday life and on social media.”
Rez, who prefers not to name the Connecticut town that she resides in for fear of reprisal from those who wish the Israel and the Jewish people harm, says she receives support from individuals in the Jewish community, most of whom prefer to remain anonymous.
“They are private individuals – American pro-Israeli individuals who literally have the exact vision that I have – that we have a growing storm of antisemitism happening,” she says.
StopAntiSemitism.org is interactive, allowing its audience to submit real-time tips about antisemitic incidents. But besides just reporting these antisemitic acts on the organization’s website and on Instagram, StopAntiSemitism.org goes one step further by going on the offense and holding antisemitic perpetrators responsible.
The website’s home page explains its mission with this epithet: “Holding Antisemites Accountable and Creating Consequences For Their Actions.”
“The goal really became exposing antisemites and creating consequences for their behaviors,” she explains. “With the levels of antisemitism we are seeing and all the directions it is coming from, the current status-quo reactive approach isn’t working. So we operate more on the offensive vs. the reactive.”
When students at a Connecticut high school reported antisemitic graffiti and language by other students to stopantisemitism.org, Rez posted the story, then continued to follow up with the school’s principal and school superintendent – to the school officials’ chagrin – to find out what they were doing about the incidents.
Even before starting StopAntiSemitism.org, Rez had been calling out those exhibiting hateful behavior toward her and her Jewish Chick sites.
“I had a ‘name and shame’ approach,” she says. “I feel that if there aren’t any consequences for bad actions, people aren’t going to learn and they will repeat their mistakes. So I would identify individuals who would send me horrific antisemitic messages – and I’m not speaking about the standard ones…I don’t even want to repeat them. The average human being would cringe. I would contact their employer, contact their parents, their spouses…and I was often successful in getting them fired. I got a few students suspended and actually had a few apologies. When you create consequences, this is where you can see some action.”
StopAntiSemitism.org is now working with an open search firm that researches and collects information regarding suspicious groups or individuals using information that is freely available on the Internet.
When a man in Los Angeles took selfies of himself in front of a Chabad House wearing a kafiya and wielding a machete and then posted it online, StopAntiSemitism worked to find out more about him – including his possession of firearms and previous arrests – which were then shared with police.
“We are essentially vetting individuals and creating web associates,” Rez says. “We are seeing who they are affiliated with and essentially what they are capable of doing. [The open search staff] just have more access than you or I or the average individual. We are doing everything by the book.”
“I think StopAntiSemitism.org’s efforts to expose Jew hatred are laudable,” Jonathan Tobin, editor-in-chief of JNS.org (Jewish News Syndicate), told the Ledger. “While some groups, like the ADL, concentrate on very commendable education programs, activism aimed at exposing antisemitism is still necessary. That is especially true since so many Jews and Jewish groups seem reluctant to confront antisemitism from both right- and left-wing sources, and the ADL has to some extent compromised itself with its open partisanship and willingness to unfairly brand Trump as an antisemite. While some criticize any strategy that calls out individuals as too confrontational, given the crisis that the rising tide of antisemitism around the globe, such an approach is a necessity.”
In his opinion piece “How to Combat the Looming Perfect Storm for Antisemitism in America,” Jewish philanthropist Adam Milstein lauded this proactive strategy.
“StopAntiSemitism.org, for example, monitors Jew-hatred on the ground, on digital and social media, and leverages an unmatched technology to develop communication channels through which they engage Americans to report Jew-hatred alerts and incidents, and develop actionable strategies to counter and prevent hate and violence,” Milstein reported.
Rez says that this kind of information gathering is important and is resulting in some interesting connections.
“For the first time we are seeing this insane phenomenon happening. We are seeing the radical left combine forces with the religious extreme – the Islamacists. And then on the opposite side we see the alt-right. So how does that play out? We have David Duke [former grand wizard of the KKK] who not only endorsed Ilhan Omar, [he called] her the most important congressperson…and promoting a Hezbollah website. It is insane seeing the KKK partner with radical Muslims.
“You shift to the other side of the spectrum and you have these radical progressive leftists combining with radical Islamacists, and what culminates? You have the BDS movement, which is infecting many college campuses… infecting the young minds of students who have no idea where Israel or Palestine even is. So we have these three forces combining, making this trifecta, three-headed snake. And what’s at the forefront? Jew hatred. So we are essentially getting it from three directions.”
Each week, her site highlights an Antisemite of the Week – a list that has included rocker and BDS proponent Roger Waters, U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the Alt-Right’s Richard Spencer, and Britain Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Even some Jews have been chosen for this honor, including Elizabeth Warren campaign staffer Max Bernstein and, on Sept. 14, Ariel Gold co-director of Codepink. According to StopAntiSemitism.org’s post:
“Ariel Gold is a classic useful idiot, who use their Jewish blood as a justification for promoting vile racism and hatred toward Jews. She is an anti-Israel provocateur, a strong advocate of the antisemitic BDS movement and co-director of Codepink, a radical social justice NGO that is proud of its relationship with terror groups,” she says.
“We don’t concentrate on one group,” Rez points out. “We are 100 percent dedicated to being bipartisan. If somebody is an antisemite, we don’t care of they are a Democrat or a Republican. We’re not immune to featuring anyone who we feel is antisemitic and we are holding them accountable for their actions.”
While active on Facebook and Twitter, StopAntiSemitism.org has become most strong on Instagram, the dominion of the most savvy online users of all – the young.
“We have thousands of students following us – middle school students, high school students – and they are our eyes and ears in the schools. Almost on a daily basis they submit antisemitic incidents,” she says. “We are seeing students being affected, as young as middle-schoolers. We get messages from 12- and 13-year-olds, saying, ‘I’m afraid to say I’m Jewish.’ This is why the Instagram account is so important to us.”
Rez has now been selected by The Algemeiner newspaper to its 2019 “J100” list of the top 100 people “positively influencing Jewish life.”
“I’m extremely honored to be recognized by one of the most influential Jewish publications in America,” she says. “I plan to keep charging ahead with all of my efforts on behalf of Jews in the Diaspora.”
Main Photo: Liora Rez speaking before a group of supporters in California.