Antisemitic Rhetoric in Urdu on YouTube: An Analysis

This webinar was held November 22, 2022 and led by Dr. Navras J. Aafreedi. He discussed his contribution on "Antisemitic Rhetoric in Urdu on YouTube" from the recently published "Antisemitism on Social Media" (London: Routledge, 2022). For his work on this chapter, Dr. Aafreedi was a nominee for the Bernard Lewis Prize at the Annual ASMEA Conference in 2022.

This chapter is the first to present an analysis of the antisemitic rhetoric in Urdu on the social media platform YouTube. With the help of a case study of the famous Muslim cleric Israr Ahmed, this chapter first gives insights to how YouTube is utilized to disseminate antisemitic conspiracy myths in Urdu. It focuses not only on the nature of the antisemitic content, but also investigates its origins and dissemination, and its impact at both the local and the global level. Videos by Islamic clerics attract large numbers of viewers, are frequently shared on social media, and may play an important role in shaping South Asian Muslims’ perception of Jews, Israel, and Zionism. At the same time, this chapter presents an inquiry into the incentives for spreading hate against Jews, Israel, and Zionism, attempts to understand why this phenomenon in South Asia fails to attract the attention it needs, and suggests some remedial measures to counter the threat.

Dr. Aafreedi is an assistant professor of history at Presidency University in Kolkata, India where he teaches courses on Jewish history, genocide studies, interfaith relations and minority studies.

His numerous publications include a monograph Jews, Judaizing Movements and the Traditions of Israelite Descent in South Asia (New Delhi: Pragati Publications, 2016), an edited collection (with Priya Singh), Conceptualizing Mass Violence: Representations, Recollections, and Reinterpretations (London and New York: Routledge, 2021), several papers in peer-reviewed journals, chapters in edited books published by prestigious international scholarly publishing houses.and articles and op-eds in popular media. He has held visiting fellowships at the universities of Tel Aviv and Sydney, and the Woolf Institute, Cambridge, UK and been a scholar-in-residence at St. John’s College, Oxford for a summer institute on curriculum development in critical antisemitism studies under the auspices of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy (ISGAP) in New York. He is also a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Global Semitism & Policy (ISGAP), New York since 2020 and a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Program since 2014 and counted among 75-year-old Salzburg Global Seminar's 67 ‘famous fellows’ out of its total 40 thousand fellows from 170 countries. He is also an alumnus of Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD), 2014.

Dr. Aafreedi focuses on Indo-Judaic Studies, but his academic interests include studies of interfaith relations, mass violence, marginality, antisemitism and micro-minorities. He has given lectures/talks/presentations in all continents except South America, which have all been well received. Some of his publications have been translated into French, German, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. Although he writes primarily in English, he is the first person to make any worthwhile contributions to Jewish Studies in the Urdu language, the lingua franca of linguistically diverse South Asian Muslims. He has to his credit the first ever Holocaust films Retrospective in South Asia, a couple of international multidisciplinary conferences focused on the Holocaust, a couple of webinar series on antisemitism in Asia, and the only undergraduate course in global Jewish history and the only postgraduate Holocaust-focused course in Asia, excluding the academia in China and Israel.