In an exclusive interview, U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism discusses the “raw hate” against Jews on social media and his causes for optimism.
Elan Carr has served as U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism since February 2019.
Previously, he was a deputy district attorney in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. He was also a judge advocate in the American military’s judicial system, prosecuting enemy combatants before Iraqi judges at the Central Criminal Court. He also served as the international president of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi).
Carr, 51, a Republican, unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2014 against Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California.
He and his wife, Dahlia, have three children.
JNS talked with Carr by phone on Oct. 15. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: Does the federal government have an obligation to go after Big Tech for aiding and abetting anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism?
A: Obviously, a portion of online anti-Semitism rises to the level of crime, and, of course, that should be addressed and addressed aggressively. But the vast majority of online hate is protected by the First Amendment, so the government can’t go after protected speech nor should it.
Q: Would a free-market approach be best to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on social-media sites?
A: Competition is always a good thing, and certainly, the government has expressed that view specifically in the context of the social-media platforms. At the end of the day, you’ve got some bad actors who are spouting hate on the Internet. One can decide to regulate this or that platform, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to go to the source of the problem. The source of the problem is people hold despicable views. The First Amendment protects despicable views, but it doesn’t mean we can’t condemn them or call them out. I think that is absolutely critical.
One of the things I think is fundamentally important is that the social-media platforms adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. They haven’t done that yet. We’ve encouraged it publicly and privately. We will continue to push them to do that publicly or privately because I think it’s incredibly important.
You can’t confront a threat unless you define the threat. We have a widely accepted vehicle that defines that threat. The State Department uses the IHRA definition. U.S. President [Donald] Trump issued an executive order that employs the definition for the federal government at large. I think the social-media platforms ought to adopt it and use it as a tool. This is a tool not of censorship, but a tool of education. We want to deal with the haters by meeting their speech with, first of all, condemnation, and second of all, education. Read more at JNS