‘He asked me: “How do you feel that you and your country are killing innocent Palestinians?”’: What online dating is like for Jewish women
A male friend told me that he’s encountered Jew-hatred on a number of occasions. The most shocking incident started off with a crude message about him being circumcised, and ended with the woman accusing him of murdering Palestinians.
Unsurprisingly, anti-Zionism – defined by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as ‘prejudice against the Jewish movement for self-determination and the right of the Jewish people to a homeland in the State of Israel’ – is the theme of many of the messages. Anya Meyerowitz had just got back from her grandpa’s funeral in Israel when she matched with a guy on Tinder. The conversation was going well – until she mentioned where she had been. “He came back to me about 10 minutes later and said: ‘How do you feel that you and your country are killing innocent Palestinians – what do you have to say to that?’” she explained. Shocked, she didn’t reply, which only seemed to anger him. “He messaged me again a few minutes later saying: ‘See, none of your type ever have an answer for that. The silence is making you seem even more guilty.”’
The true scale of the issue is impossible to know. “This is something that comes up occasionally, but not very often,” says Dave Rich, director of policy at CST. “In 2021, four antisemitic incidents on dating apps were reported to us. One was reported by somebody who is not Jewish, but the person she was conversing with made threats against the Jewish community. The other three all involved the same Jewish victim.”
As is the case for antisemitism in general, most incidents of Jew-hate on dating apps go unreported. “I didn’t report him as he apologised so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Leah explained. “I think if he got defensive and refused to back down then I would have taken it further.” Once I’d gotten over the shock, I did report the antisemitic message I received to Hinge through the app and on social media, but never heard anything back. I was disappointed by their lack of interest, to say the least, but it didn’t feel serious enough to take any further.
Jordyn Tilchen, an American Jewish writer and activist, recently asked her 11.8k Instagram followers to share their antisemitic dating stories; she was inundated with messages from Jews across the diaspora. “It was really shocking to see how widespread these experiences are,” she told me. “My takeaway is that it’s really a lot more prevalent than we realise. I don’t think we usually even talk about how antisemitism shows up in dating.”
One thing that united everyone I spoke to was how these attacks made them feel. “I felt really weird for quite a few days after,” Anya said. “Really angry, and quite panicked… not that I thought he was going to do something to me, but panicked in the sense that I was like: if I meet someone who isn’t Jewish, are they basically always going to hate me? Am I never going to be able to say that I’m Jewish or that I have family in Israel?” For Leah, it’s made her even more cautious about revealing her identity. “I don’t say that I’m Jewish on my profile, and I definitely wouldn’t venture that information in future until I met someone in person and felt comfortable with them.”
For any Jewish singletons reading this, I’d like to end on a hopeful note. In 2020 I met my now fiance on Hinge; one of the things that drew him to my profile was the fact I was Jewish. He was in the process of reconnecting with his Jewish heritage, and was looking for a partner who would actively support that journey. If I hadn’t stated I was Jewish, we probably wouldn’t have matched. So my words of wisdom from the other side are: be proud of who you are. And if you experience any antisemitism, report that racist.
All of the apps we spoke to – Hinge, Tinder and Bumble – asserted that they don’t tolerate antisemitism, and encourage people to report any incidents of Jew-hate through their apps. The CST also ask that you report all antisemitic incidents to them via this link.