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January 11, 2016
In December 2015, the NGO Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center started an experiment on Facebook to see if the social-media giant was indeed guilty of double standards when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians. The group decided to create two similar Facebook pages called “Stop Israel” and “Stop Palestinians” and started posting similar articles, visuals and statements on each site. For instance, the anti-Israel page had a post that read “The Zionist bites Palestine part after part and the world is silent. We’ll stop them any way we can” – while the anti-Palestinian site posted “Greater land Israel should return soon from the hands of the Muslim enemy back to Jewish sovereignty! We’ll do it in any way we can.”
More posts purposely filled with hatred and incitement against both sides and from both pages continued to flow. The verbiage was almost similar on all posts except for the obvious targeting of one side by the other. The result? Facebook shut down the anti-Palestinian page while the anti-Israel page continued to run. The NGO actually documented the process in a two-minute film. Shurat Hadin filed a law suit against Facebook, and both sides are awaiting a date for a court hearing.
This is not the first time Facebook has chosen to take sides. I have reported several pages over the last five years only to get the same answer from Facebook staff. That very answer was given to the Israel Law Center, justifying the taking down of the anti-Palestinian page because “We reviewed the page you reported for containing credible threat of violence and found it violates our community standards.” The very same day, the page inciting against Jews received a message from Facebook staff saying that “it was not in violation of Facebook rules.” Wait a minute, I thought that violence and hatred against anybody was to be reprimanded. The Facebook “Community Standards” that were violated on one page were IDENTICAL to those violated on the other page, except of course for the fact that one targeted group was the Jewish people and Israel.
The sad truth about this experiment is that the vast majority of people won’t react because they are used to see Jewish people being harassed, abused and even physically hurt. There seems to be a sense of resignation, if not acceptance, when Israel and/or the Jews get hurt, while there is an immediate display of outrage when Palestinians are targeted. Forget the fact that Palestinians and their leadership are almost always the instigators and Israelis the victims. Let us simply seek equality in the punishment of xenophobic websites and social network pages or accounts.
Consider Facebook pages such as Images from Palestine, Image and Reality of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict or Jewish Ritual Murder. They are replete with anti-Semitic rhetoric in pictures, videos and words, yet they are not taken down because they are “not in violation of Facebook rules.” Seriously?
Recently, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg – a self-proclaimed atheist from Jewish parents – declared his unequivocal support for Muslims worldwide in response to Donald Trump’s statement about closing U.S. borders to all Muslims. He was quoted coming to the defense of Muslims after the November 2015 Paris attacks: “As a Jew, my parents taught me that we must stand up against attacks on all communities. Even if an attack isn’t against you today, in time attacks on freedom for anyone will hurt everyone.”
I wonder if Mr. Zuckerberg forgot or ignored his recent statement that all of us should “stand up against attacks on all communities”? Maybe he doesn’t even know about the double standards applied to Jews and Palestinians on Facebook, although by now he has got to be aware of it all.
Taken straight from Facebook’s “Community Standards,” we can read its simple statement under: “Encouraging Respectful Behavior: Hate Speech”: “Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their: Race, Ethnicity, National origin, Religious affiliation, Sexual orientation, Sex, gender, or gender identity, or Serious disabilities or diseases. Organizations and people dedicated to promoting hatred against these protected groups are not allowed a presence on Facebook.”
Then please explain why the anti-Israel page with virulent anti-Semitic statements was never removed? Regardless of where the double standard comes from, Facebook must be held accountable. The Israeli lawsuit might correct the recent wrong, but it will not stop the next one and those thereafter.
I have used Facebook for years as a platform to share my thoughts, comments and articles. I value that platform because of its global reach. It has become such a part of our daily routine and social communication that it would be hard to refrain from using it. On the other hand, if you feel that there is a double standard in the treatment of Jews and Palestinians on the social-media giant, speak up!
You can file complaints on Facebook’s Help Center, and you don’t have to be Jewish, Muslim or anything else for that matter. You just have to be a proponent of truth, justice, fairness and accountability for all mankind. If we don’t say anything, we have no right to complain when Israelis are getting stabbed to death on the streets of Israel, French Jews machine gunned in a Kosher supermarket or any other xenophobic acts take place.