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Knesset accuses Facebook of ignoring incitement against Jews while blocking posts for EU, US

July 7, 2016 11:07 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 28, 2016 4:55 P.M.)
Israeli Knesset (AFP, file)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Some members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, expressed their indignation that Facebook has not taken enough action to remove content inciting “acts of terror against Jews,” while they said the site has instead cracked down on inflammatory content on behalf of the United States and European nations.

During a plenary meeting on Wednesday, Knesset member Revital Swid of the Zionist Camp explained that she brought several examples of “incitement” to the attention of a Facebook executive last year -- including “postings that encourage people to commit acts of terror, imams in mosques calling to murder Jews, do-it-yourself videos showing how to take a knife and murder Jews” -- demanding that they be removed for their role in promoting “lone-wolf terrorism.”

Swid expressed outrage to the plenum over the reply she received to the complaint, which assured that “any violent content you report to us will be removed,” because it “did not use the word ‘terror,’ only ‘violence.’”

“Today we know for certain that Facebook does remove content that incites to terrorism. Where? In Europe. This is a decision Facebook reached about a month ago in light of the wave of terror attacks in Europe; but not here.”

Knesset member for the Likud party and Minister of National Infrastructure Yuval Steinitz also pointed out what he believed was preferential treatment to block posts considered “incitement to murder Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, Americans and Europeans” that were reported by United States President Barack Obama.

“When big America said ISIS content can lead to terrorism and violence, Facebook respected that and took steps to remove ISIS messages, justifiably so. So, in the same way, we must demand that content and messages from Hamas and Islamic Jihad and from individuals calling to murder, destroy, and expel Jews must be removed,” Steinitz said.

Steinitz proceeded to call on “those who can prevent online incitement do so,” insisting that the demand that Facebook step up censorship on behalf of the state of Israel was “justified.”

Thursday’s Knesset meeting followed a spike in attacks that occurred last week, after a period of relative calm since a wave of violence began in the region in October. In less than 48 hours, three Palestinians were shot dead while carrying out or allegedly attempting to carry out attacks that left two Israelis killed.

In the wake of the killing of a 13-year-old Israeli girl in the Hebron-area settlement Kiryat Arba by Muhammad Tarayra, a resident of the nearby Bani Naim village, reports emerged that he had posted on Facebook praising other Palestinians who had committed attacks on Israelis, including a woman who was shot dead when she allegedly attempted to carry out a car ramming attack near Kiryat Arba.

Yousef Mustafa Tarayra, reportedly a cousin of Muhammad Tarayra, was shot dead alongside two other Palestinian youth in March after they allegedly carried out two consecutive attacks near Kiryat Arba, injuring four Israeli soldiers.

Following the series of deadly incidents, Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan reportedly said that Facebook chairman and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg had “blood on his hands” for not adequately cooperating with Israel to remove content.

In recent months, Israel has accused Palestinian leadership of “inciting terror” while also detaining scores of Palestinian civilians over Facebook posts that Israeli authorities alleged were responsible for an increase in attacks and attempted attacks against Israeli military targets and settlers.

Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.
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