December 15, 2018

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Glenn Greenwald’s fact-free criticism of Israeli policy towards incitement on social media

At The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald wrote an article last week about how Facebook is supposedly doing Israel’s bidding on censoring any anti-Israel posts.

As he is wont to do, Greenwald will take half-truths, eradicate context, and use these pseudo-facts to make insane generalizations that are, in the end, absolute lies.

 Facebook has been on a censorship rampage against Palestinian activists who protest the decades-long, illegal Israeli occupation, all directed and determined by Israeli officials. Indeed, Israeli officials have been publicly boasting about how obedient Facebook is when it comes to Israeli censorship orders:

Shortly after news broke earlier this month of the agreement between the Israeli government and Facebook, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Tel Aviv had submitted 158 requests to the social media giant over the previous four months asking it to remove content it deemed “incitement.” She said Facebook had granted 95 percent of the requests.

She’s right. The submission to Israeli dictates is hard to overstate: As the New York Times put it in December of last year, “Israeli security agencies monitor Facebook and send the company posts they consider incitement. Facebook has responded by removing most of them.”

What makes this censorship particularly consequential is that “96 percent of Palestinians said their primary use of Facebook was for following news.” That means that Israeli officials have virtually unfettered control over a key communications forum of Palestinians.

Greenwald is saying that what Israel says is incitement is actually any criticism of Israel.

The charge is almost too laughable to believe. Anyone can go to Arabic news pages in Facebook and use their translation service to see that not only are there thousands of anti-Israel posts every day, but there is still plenty of raw incitement to murder Jews that Facebook misses.

Greenwald’s dishonesty in proving his position becomes clear in the next paragraph:

In the weeks following those Facebook-Israel meetings, reported The Independent, “the activist collective Palestinian Information Center reported that at least 10 of their administrators’ accounts for their Arabic and English Facebook pages — followed by more than 2 million people — have been suspended, seven of them permanently, which they say is a result of new measures put in place in the wake of Facebook’s meeting with Israel.” 

The Palestine Information Center is a front for an internationally recognized terror group. It is Hamas.  Too bad this little piece of information wasn’t considered important for Greenwald.

Last March, Facebook briefly shut down the Facebook page of the political party, Fatah, followed by millions, “because of an old photo posted of former leader Yasser Arafat holding a rifle.”

Greenwald doesn’t give the source for his quote. Do you want to know why? Because it was a lie spouted by Fatah itself!

Fatah’s Facebook page publishes direct incitement to kill Israelis and Jews, as I’ve documented here and Palestinian Media Watch has literally hundreds of examples. An old photo of Arafat with a rifle is not considered offensive by PMW, by Israeli officials or by anyone. This, however, is:

A real journalist would know this. An anti-Israel propagandist like Greenwald would know this too – and purposefully hide that information from his readers.

But Greenwald’s crimes against the truth don’t end there. Not only does he laughably imply that Palestinians cannot find any anti-Israel news to read, he also claims that official Israeli social media – including Netanyahu’s – is  filled with direct incitement to kill Palestinians:

Though some of the most inflammatory and explicit calls for murder are sometimes removed, Facebook continues to allow the most extremist calls for incitement against Palestinians to flourish. Indeed, Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, has often used social media to post what is clearly incitement to violence against Palestinians generally. In contrast to Facebook’s active suppression against Palestinians, the very idea that Facebook would ever use its censorship power against Netanyahu or other prominent Israelis calling for violence and inciting attacks is unthinkable. Indeed, as Al Jazeera concisely put it, “Facebook hasn’t met Palestinian leaders to discuss their concern.”

Greenwald’s link for Netanyahu’s supposed incitement against Palestinians is when he was referring to the kidnap and murder of three Israeli boys. He quoted a poem about vengeance but in no way could anyone interpret that as a call to hurt or kill Arabs, only the people responsible for the murders.

And while it is true that Facebook would never censor Netanyahu, it would also never censor Abbas, who directly incited his people to oppose the Jews who “desecrate Al Aqsa with their filthy feet” and who he exhorted to oppose by all means – literally two weeks before the wave of knifing and car ramming attacks began in 2015, a mini-intifada that was directly encouraged by the same Fatah Facebook page that Greenwald says is innocent of any incitement.

One other difference between Palestinian incitement and the (admitted) Israeli incitement: Israelis are horrified at the few Jewish terror attacks against Arabs and the entire society is against such acts. Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian society honors the terrorists.

Palestinian incitement on social media results in actual attacks in the hundreds per month. And social media is a large part of the reason for it. One cannot say the same about Israelis.

But Greenwald doesn’t care about actual incitement to murder Jews. He’s pretty much condoned it.

(h/t Bill, Yosef)

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