Chuck your computer to curb hate, says Howard Jacobson
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Chuck your computer to curb hate, says Howard Jacobson

Award-winning writer sounds warning about extremism on line as Jewish charity raises £300,000 for its projects

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Howard Jacobson (Credit: John Rifkin)
Howard Jacobson (Credit: John Rifkin)

Acclaimed author Howard Jacobson has urged people to “throw your computers out the window” to curb extremism in the wake of the Pittsburgh massacre

He called for “a massive effort from everybody to tone down how they speak”, especially online, and for parents to “get your kids off social media”.

Speaking to Jewish News at the British Emunah dinner on Monday night at the Marriott in Grosvenor Square, Jacobson said fanatical views are “born out of violent language that all extreme parties are responsible for”.

The lunatic who killed 11 people was talking about Jews as ‘genocidal’. He’s got that wrong. Jews are subject to genocide, they don’t do genocide – unless you happen to read extreme accounts which describe Israeli Jews as involved in the genocide of the Palestinians, which is nonsense.”

“What fed into this man’s sick mind has been stuff from the extreme left as well as the extreme right. Everybody who talks inordinately, who doesn’t measure their words, is to blame for this. And of course, social media, which is the worst affliction mankind has ever suffered.”

The Man Booker Prize-winning writer addressed the charity’s 85th anniversary gala dinner, reflecting on “the violent times we’re living in”, adding “maybe what we need is cheering up a bit. Jewish comedy after all is the great thing that it is, because we’re never light-hearted, we’re never trivial.”.

Guests helped Emunah raise £300,000 towards the charity’s projects and initiatives, supporting vulnerable children in Israel.

Funding from the British arm of the organisation will support the expansion of the Sarah Ronson Crisis and Intervention Centre in Sderot, which is in the firing line of terror attacks and rockets fired from Gaza.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis told the dinner, that he had to go to the JW3 community vigil for the Pittsburgh massacre, organised by the Board of Deputies, before returning later in the evening. He said “I think those attending that vigil will expect that of their chief rabbi”, before thanking politicians who had cancelled plans to also attend.”

During the evening, 420 guests were entertained by a performance from Emunah singers (UK), as well as 10 children from the Emunah Centre in Afula, who sang Hatikvah.

An appeal film was also shown about a Latvian-born Israeli named Vadim Lvovv, who had moved to Israel, after his father killed his mother.

He told Jewish News his life had been saved by Emunah, who helped his education and kept him out of crime in his rough neighbourhood. Vadim is now married and studying for an engineering degree.

Listen to this week’s episode of the Jewish Views Podcast, focusing on Pittsburgh:

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