OpinionSchools & Higher Education

Deepfakes and deep reality

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez crusades against deepfakes while her own fake slanders of Israel fuel antisemitism.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2021. Credit: Ron Adar/Shutterstock
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2021. Credit: Ron Adar/Shutterstock
Charles A. Stone
Charles A. Stone is a professor in the Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the Koppelman School of Business at Brooklyn College.

For some students, donning the keffiyeh has become a form of what Tom Wolfe called “radical chic.” It connects them to the cause du jour. At the moment, that cause happens to be the destruction of Israel. These students see the campus “protests” against Israel as a social outing.

You can see them at the New School struggling to put on their newly purchased Chinese-made keffiyehs. They use their iPhones to make sure they have Instagram and TikTok at the ready.

Others, however, use the keffiyeh as a disguise and a weapon of intimidation. The experienced agitators outside the university gates wear it like the Palestinian terrorists who have been attacking Israel since the 1950s. They are unabashed in their desire for the genocide of Israeli Jews.

At least they are honest. Inside the encampments at occupied universities, the Israel-haters are slightly more refined in an Ivy League sort of way. They hedge their bets with slogans like “from the river to the sea.” Wearing the keffiyeh signifies their allegiance to the “intifada” against Israel while pretending that “intifada” does not mean mass murder.

They are snide characters. They say things like “If Jews are welcome in our Gaza solidarity encampment, how can we be antisemitic?” The answer is sadly obvious: If you are dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state, you are antisemitic. This isn’t hard.

The Jews who join these protests should think long and hard about sitting and singing around the campfire when the Israeli flag is used as kindling. Many of them, however, have long since made their decision. For example, Jewish Voice for Peace is as honest as the Hamas Charter: No Israel, period.

“Jewish Voice for Peace is the largest progressive Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the world,” its website states. As an anti-Zionist group, JVP’s goal of destroying Israel is clearly not a reaction to the IDF’s ongoing war against Hamas. It is a result of JVP’s unyielding and eternal belief that Israel has no right to exist.

On March 7, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) introduced the “Disrupt Explicit Forged Images and Non-Consensual Edits Act of 2024,” known as the “Defiance Act.” It has received broad bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The objective of the bill is to “hold accountable those who are responsible for the proliferation of nonconsensual, sexually-explicit ‘deepfake’ images and videos.” That is, digitally forged images of people engaged in sexual or other private acts.

No doubt, those who engage in the production and distribution of deepfakes are inflicting severe harm on people. Deepfake cowards damage the self-esteem of their targets, trigger serious mental distress and can cause suicides. The Defiance Act will criminalize this behavior. It will hopefully punish the perpetrators and dissuade others from engaging in such humiliation. The legislation is an example of the kind of leadership that brings people together for the common good. 

AOC herself, however, likely didn’t notice the irony of her bill. Deepfake images and videos ruin lives, but so does the fake allegation that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. Yet AOC has accused Israel of precisely this. Such blood libels aid Hamas and lead to more death and destruction. They also incite violence against Jews and promote antisemitism in general. Whether she believes her lie or not, AOC is doing precisely this.

Whatever the motivation behind their libels, antisemitic students are inspired by vociferous anti-Israel politicians like AOC and Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Perhaps it is time for them to reflect on the damage their libels have caused. Just as people involved in the creation and distribution of deepfakes cause irreparable pain and suffering to their victims, dishonest politicians who promote and circulate blood libels do the same. This is, perhaps, the most heinous deepfake of all.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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