Major Jewish Group Urges Social Media Giants to Bar Palestinian Calls ‘to Terrorist Murder’ Against Israelis
Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) exhorted social media giants including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to ban postings “celebrating and encouraging the continuing wave of stabbings by Palestinians across Israel.”
The widely available social media platforms have come under fire as reports surfaced indicating that many of the Palestinian perpetrators of this past weeks string of deadly and near-fatal terrorist attacks in Israel against Israelis have mobilized or perhaps been radicalized by videos, games, articles and posts on the Internet encouraging violence, terrorism and hate crimes against Jews.
Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, Dean and Founder and Associate Dean of the SWC, respectively, said that “social networks have been used by terrorists and their supporters to celebrate and incite deadly continuous attacks on Jewish men, women, and children across Israel.”
“We are urging Social Networking giants led by Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to take steps to stop the use of their powerful platforms to spread the terror campaign against Israelis. While Facebook and YouTube have responded to our requests and have removed some of the worst postings, Twitter continues to serve as a key weapon to launch 24/7 calls for more murder, mayhem and violence against the citizens of the Jewish state,” said Cooper, who also directs the Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate Project.
One of the biggest challenges surrounding the abundance of hate speech on social media is that until netizens find and flag content, the hateful or inciting material goes unnoticed by moderators and therefore remains circulating the web.
Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon recalled for The Algemeiner on Thursday that, when it comes to banning violent and inciting material from social media, these “sites cannot do anything of this sort in advance.
“They react to what is reported by other users and then flagged. So, for every film they remove, another one crops up,” he said. Such flagging policy is indeed the modus operandi for all the major social media sites — Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc. — which in many ways leaves policing in the hands of users, with the websites merely making the final decision as to whether something reported constitutes hate speech or not.
The Wiesenthal Center meanwhile placed most of the blame for the recent surge in violence nationwide across Israel on the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas.
“Mr. Abbas has validated the worst falsehoods about non-existent threats by Israel against the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount,” the Center exclaimed. “So long as there are no consequences for this Palestinian campaign of hatred and violence from the international community, led by the US and EU, Israel will be left to struggle to protect her citizens on her own against an onslaught of ancient barbarity promoted by the newest 21st Century technologies.”
Many have pointed to Abbas’ September 30 speech to the United Nations General Assembly as the starting point for this round of Palestinian-Israeli violence, which has devolved into clashes between Palestinian protesters and rioters and Israeli security personnel at cities ranging from Hebron to Jaffa.
In the speech, Abbas declared:
I come before you today from Palestine, compelled to sound the alarm about the grave dangers of what is happening in Jerusalem, where extremist Israeli groups are committing repeated, systematic incursions upon Al-Aqsa Mosque, aimed at imposing a new reality and dividing Al-Haram Al-Sharif temporally, allowing extremists, under the protection of Israeli occupying forces and accompanying ministers and Knesset members, to enter the Mosque at certain times, while preventing Muslim worshipers from accessing and entering the Mosque at those times and freely exercising their religious rights.
This is the scheme that the Israeli government is pursuing, in direct violation of the status quo since before 1967 and thereafter. By doing so, the occupying power is committing a grave mistake, because we will not accept this, and the Palestinian people will not allow the implementation of this illegal scheme, which is aggravating the sensitivities of Palestinians and Muslims everywhere.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by condemning Abbas’ speech, calling it “deceitful” and warning it would incite to violence against Jews.
Abbas has since encouraged Palestinians not to “militarize” their protests against Israel. “We don’t want a military and security escalation with Israel,” he said, according to the Palestinian Wafa news agency. He has also failed to condemn the lethal attacks against Israelis.