Watching for Words as Weapons on International Holocaust Remembrance Day


Be on the lookout for anti-Semitic messages.

online harrassment


Today, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marks the liberation of the World War II Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and honors all the victims of Nazism. At the entrance was a sign that read: Albeit Macht Frei. An English translation is: Work Will Set You Free.

Those words were likely meant to be a mockery of usual work, for in these slave labor concentration camps, if you were not immediately put in the line to be killed, the labor would often kill you—that is, set you free from life.

Increasingly, in our time of disinformation and alternative facts, words are being used for political manipulation and cultish control. Like the Auschwitz sign, they can also surreptitiously convey anti-Semitic messages without directly saying so. Those on the internet know that hidden messages can often easily slip past content moderation, at least at first.

In this time of increasing anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world, if you want to be on the lookout for such anti-Semitic words and report them to your local Jewish organizations, here are current common ones:

Globalist. Globalist, which on the surface can seem like something good—someone who is for global cooperative relationships—is used to promote the old conspiracy theory that Jewish people do not have allegiance to where they live, but want to control the world in some way. The truth is the opposite.

New World Order (NWO). This term is similar to globalists, but focusing more on global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and mass shootings.

Jewish Lightning. This is a slang term for arson, with the purpose of fraud.

Reltih. This word is Hitler spelled backwards, so as to talk about Hitler in a positive way without using his name.

USS Liberty. This is a reference to a conspiracy theory that Israel intentionally targeted a United States Warship during the height of the 1967 Six-Day War that Israel won.

There are also symbols of concern, such as:

((( ))). These multiple parentheses, otherwise known as “echo,” is put around someone’s name to indicate to others “in the know” that the person is Jewish, and not in a positive way.

Besides anti-Semitic words and phrases, there are others that reference other minority groups. This fits the historical pattern that when the Jewish people have faced persecution and harassment, other minority groups inevitably follow. Such was the case in Nazi Germany, and psychiatric patients were an early target. Some of those words that have become well-known are: Proud Boys, QAnon, and White Aryan Resistance.

Psychiatry has always been concerned with the healing power of words. That is why interpretations shared with patients have to be so carefully and compassionately worded. Words used as weapons is antithetical to our healing nature and, for mental health’s sake, need to be watched for and addressed. Over time, words used in the wrong way to manipulate minds can sometimes be as lethal as guns.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.

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