TikTok Supporters Blame Jews for Congressional Ban

'There is 0 doubt in my mind pro-Israel lobbying groups are behind the pressure'

(Adam Berry/AFP via Getty Images)
March 18, 2024

TikTok supporters online are claiming that "pro-Israel lobbying groups" and Jews are responsible for pressuring Congress into fast-tracking bills that would ban the Chinese social media app, which the U.S. intelligence community deems a national security threat.

Online activists across X, Reddit, and other popular internet forums are spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories claiming that prominent Jewish-American leaders oppose TikTok because it has emerged as a central repository for anti-Israel criticism related to the war against Hamas.

One X account with nearly a million followers pinned blame for the ban on Jonathan Greenblatt, the Jewish leader of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a watchdog group that has raised concerns about the prevalence of anti-Semitism on TikTok. The claims parrot classic examples of anti-Semitism alleging that Jews control politics and use this power to silence criticism of Israel. The emergence of this argument is raising concerns on Capitol Hill amid a massive rise in Jew-hatred across America in the wake of Hamas's Oct. 7 terror strikes on Israel.

"Seeing Gen Z in the US overwhelmingly support Palestine in the face of Israeli aggression, TERRIFIED [Greenblatt]," wrote X user "Censored Men" in a March 13 missive to more than 983,000 followers. "Is it such a coincidence that today the 'TikTok Ban Bill' passes after MONTHS of congress pushing for it so heavily?"

"With the speed they moved to ban TikTok, there is 0 doubt in my mind pro-Israel lobbying groups are behind the pressure," wrote another X user, "Lolo," to more than 155,000 followers. "Israel has been getting absolutely cooked on TikTok the last few months and it doesn't help that their own bozo soldiers are posting videos of them doing war crimes once a week."

This type of rhetoric has flourished on X, as well as other internet forums, since the House passed its version of the TikTok ban last week. The legislation is now in the Senate. Its chief Republican backer, Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), says the rhetoric is evidence that the Chinese Communist Party is using TikTok to foment unrest in American and promote inflammatory propaganda.

"Unfortunately, there are anti-Semitic people in America who will blame Israel and the Jewish people for anything and everything," Rubio told the Washington Free Beacon. "These are the same people marching through cities in support of Hamas and Houthi terrorists. It is sick and evil."

"I understand why they love TikTok," Rubio said. "The Chinese-controlled app amplifies their views because Beijing wants to divide and weaken America from within. We can debate Middle East policy, but we shouldn't give the Chinese Communist Party—a group actively committing genocide against Muslims—the ability to control that debate."

Rubio is shepherding a bill, similar to the House version, that would ban TikTok unless the app's parent company, Chinese-owned ByteDance, completely divests from it.

Commentary magazine recently dubbed the pro-TikTok crowd's focus on Jewish-American and pro-Israel supporters "the Protocols of the Elders of Zion for the social media age."

The magazine noted numerous examples of high-profile TikTok advocates claiming the ADL and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the nation's largest pro-Israel advocacy group, are pulling the strings to get TikTok banned.

"Wow! I am fucking SHOCKED that Dems are voting to ban Tik Tok. This is AIPAC at work," Democrat Pamela Keith, a former Florida state lawmaker, wrote last week on X.

AIPAC played no role in advocating for the TikTok ban.

The comments section of an X post last week by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) in support of a ban quickly turned into an anti-Jewish conspiracy forum, again highlighting how the debate about China's efforts to spy on Americans is being eclipsed by anti-Semitism.

On Reddit, another popular internet forum, one user wondered, "Is Israel behind the attempt to ban Tik Tok in America?"

Jewish groups such as the ADL and the Jewish Federations of North America, an umbrella group representing Jewish community organizations across the country, have publicly backed the TikTok ban, citing the prevalence of anti-Semitic rhetoric and pro-Hamas propaganda.

The ADL in a 2023 report revealed a preponderance of anti-Semitic material on TikTok that evaded the app's content guidelines. This type of content has ballooned in the wake of Israel's war on Hamas, with GOP lawmakers last year sounding the alarm about a "deluge of pro-Hamas content" on TikTok.

Jewish staffers at TikTok also disclosed late last year, after Hamas's attack on Israel, that there is "rampant antisemitism" and "Israel-hate in [the] workplace," the Times of Israel reported.