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June 27, 2016 7:02 pm

Facebook Suspiciously Suspends Pro-Israel Page After Anti-Israel Activists Launch ‘Coordinated’ Attack

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This Racebook post by The Israel Network was the target of a coordinated attack by anti-Israel activists. Photo: Uri Silberman.

This Facebook post by The Israel Network was the target of a systemic attack by anti-Israel activists. Photo: Uri Silberman.

A popular pro-Israel Facebook page was abruptly shut down on Monday by the social media giant hours after anti-Israel activists launched a targeted attack on the page, the forum’s administrator told The Algemeiner.

Uri Silberman — who runs The Israel Network page and lives in Israel — said on Monday that after a photo he posted showing Israeli soldiers helping a lost Palestinian child started gaining popularity, anti-Israel activists began posting hateful and antisemitic comments.

“Early Sunday morning, I posted a photo that was circulating on Facebook of Israeli soldiers helping a lost Palestinian boy. In the photo, you see them feeding the child. I wrote up a small story on how they contacted his parents, cared for the child while he waited to be picked up and how everything ended up fine,” Silberman said.

Within minutes, anti-Israel activists began posting threats and aggressive comments many of them antisemitic. Things quickly spiraled out of control, Silberman said. 

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“There were around 150 comments on this one post alone, with about 99 percent of them anti-Israel. Then they began to comment on other posts as well. Some of the comments called Israel child killers, rapists, murderers, and kidnappers. Other comments said Hitler didn’t finish his job and they would like to do things to Jews that were worse than Hitler,” Silberman told The Algemeiner.

the israel network 1the israel network 2

In some instances, Silberman said he attempted to open up dialogue with the activists. “They would make all kinds of points about Israel and the ‘occupation’ and I would counter back with our point of view and narrative,” Silberman said. However, “at one stage, it was completely overwhelming and I was not able to keep the Israeli narrative on my own page.”

Courtesy Uri Silberman

Courtesy Uri Silberman

Silberman then began banning and reporting users and by evening, “things had quieted down.”

On Monday morning, Silberman was able to post to The Israel Network page as usual. He was later alerted that something was wrong by a page administrator, who received an error message saying that the page had been unpublished.

“That was the first I heard of anything. I saw the message, attempted to republish the page and received an error message,” he said. “I then realized that, lost among my many emails, I had received an email from Facebook saying my page had violated its community standards and the page was unpublished as a result.”

Photo: Uri Silberman.

Courtesy Uri Silberman.

When Silberman went to appeal Facebook’s decision, he was warned that “if I appeal and they reject the page, it will be banned permanently.”

“I appealed and assumed a new page would open up so that I could argue my case. No such thing happened. I received a confirmation that I submitted an appeal and that’s it. Here I am not now knowing what will happen, if my page will be deleted permanently and all my work will have gone to waste,” he said.

The Israel Network page was created in 2014 and advocates on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. Over the last few weeks, the page saw a surge in popularity following several successful posts. “We just reached 37,000 likes and a reach of over 800,000. A few posts these last weeks had received several thousand likes and shares and attracted a lot of attention,” Silberman said.

While The Israel Network, as a pro-Israel page, has attracted the attention of the anti-Israel crowd, “We’ve never seen this level of attention,” Silberman told The Algemeiner. “This seems like a coordinated attack by a bunch of anti-Israel activists who appear to have contacted one another to get rid of my page. Crazily enough, an old redundant page, which I renamed The Israel Network 2 about three months ago in order to merge it with the original Israel Network, has been receiving similar posts in the last 24 hours. So it seems they were told to look for Israel Network by someone. I have no doubt it was an orchestrated attack.”

“I don’t expect much from Facebook other than to be fair and bring back my page,” he said. 

This is not the first time a pro-Israel page has been singled out by Facebook. As reported by The Algemeiner earlier in June, Facebook restored a post it had removed from a pro-Israel page after a social media experiment revealed an identical pro-Palestinian posting was not deemed to be in violation of its rules.

Following a request for comment, a Facebook representative told The Algemeiner that they will be looking into why the page was taken down.

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