A video about online trolling featuring a prominent Labour politician has been criticised for including a depiction of a Jewish troll wearing a skullcap.
Angela Rayner, the Shadow Education Secretary, appeared in the three-minute video produced by Double Down News, a YouTube video channel which describes itself as “serving the people, not the power”.
Mrs Rayner talks about her experiences of having been the target of online abuse.
She says: “It’s probably about five angry – usually men – in a room that literally have a load of pseudonyms and a load of anonymous accounts… those that send me an email at half seven at night on a Sunday to tell me that I’m an embarrassment to the Labour party in the way that I speak – and I think, ‘gosh, haven’t you got something better to do?’”
As Mrs Rayner makes the comment, a clip from the South Park TV cartoon is shown, depicting an episode where a Jewish character wearing a skullcap (Gerald Broflovski, the father of Kyle Broflovski, a key character in the show) is trolling a woman online. However, for those who have never seen South Park, it appears to suggest that the MP is being trolled by Jews.
A number of Jewish social media users responded angrily to the video.
“Of all illustrations available they choose a character who is clearly identifiable as Jewish”, one user said.
“Very few will realise who or what the character is. At the very least someone involved might have expressed reservations… ‘Zionist’ troll subjecting left wing politician to online abuse is the conscious or subconscious thinking here. Either that or Jews are seen as enemies of the project and therefore fair game”.
Another asked “Why is the troll depicted wearing a kippah?
“He would only be illustrated in that way if the cartoonist has in mind that he is a Zionist troll, accusing her of antisemitism.
“Remember, it is the accusation of antisemitism, not the antisemitism itself, which is considered abusive”.
In the responses to the Facebook version of the video, a number of people commented on the depiction of the Jewish troll.
One said. “Regardless of the plot within South Park, could you not have found an image that was not of a comedy Jew? Are you even remotely serious?”
Another person sarcastically wrote: “Portraying the troll in the clip as identifiably kippah wearing Jew is not stereotyping or bullying of course. Shame on you!!”
Mrs Rayner told the JC that she was not responsible for the use of the image.
She said: “My interview was a feature on a video produced by Double Down News and I was not privy to or responsible for the final edit of the whole piece.
“I have passed on the concerns that you raise as the last thing I want is for any offence to be caused.
Responding to comments on social media, Double Down News said it wanted to “allay fears”.
In a statement, the company said: “We use archive footage from popular culture in all our videos.
“The clip you refer to is from the South Park episode on trolling. We are big fans of South Park and used it because it fit perfectly with what Angela was saying: the troll in question is trolling at night… and the women being trolled looks like Angela.
“The troll in question is Kyle's dad, who coincidentally always wears a kippah. The fact that he is Jewish is irrespective to his trolling, both in the South Park episode and in this video. One of the makers of South Park is Jewish and so is one of the founders of DDN who worked on this edit.
“DDN will not tolerate racism in any form. We are here to serve the people, not the power. That means everyone: Jew, Muslim, Christian, atheist, black, white, LGBT etc.”
However, one of the complainants responded by saying that the “totally ingenuous explanation really annoyed and upset me.
“Of all the medias, new and old, and all the billions of potential clips and GIFs you could use from the bottomless well of popular culture, the hate figure – which rightly, a troll is – happens to be an identifiable Jew. What an amazing coincidence.
“If the right GIF happened to be African American? Or identifiably Muslim, you would have been JUST as happy to show that, right? Not”.
A spokesperson for Double Down said: “Out of one million people reached, 390,000 video views and over 515 comments we identified three comments that raised concern with the use of the South Park trolling episode.”
The company called one complainant’s use of the word “kapo” to describe its Jewish co-founder “insulting”.
The spokesperson added: “We here at DDN welcome all feedback as a chance to learn and grow., including complaints of which we take very seriously. We will be looking at our current use of archived popular culture to make sure we minimise any future risk of misinterpretation."