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Jews Pressure Facebook over Palestinian Page

(RNS) Facebook shut down a “Third Palestinian Intifada” page and similar groups this week, prompted by complaints from Jewish groups that the content had crossed the line from free speech to violent incitement.

The campaign has raised questions about whether Facebook should be used to facilitate some popular uprisings but not others, and even whether Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lost touch with his family’s Jewish roots.

Inspired by the successful use of social media to fuel popular protests in Egypt and elsewhere, the intifada fan page had amassed more than 300,000 “likes” from users for its proposed May 15 uprising before disappearing Tuesday (March 29).

Facebook, which has more than 500 million users worldwide, prohibits content that is “hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.”


The intifada page was permitted as long as the creators maintained a theme of peaceful protest and deleted violent postings. But as the controversy grew, with Israeli officials and Jewish groups urging Facebook to take down the pages, the content deteriorated.

The Anti-Defamation League, which had criticized Facebook’s initial decision to permit the page, applauded the company’s reversal.

“We hope that they will continue to vigilantly monitor their pages for other groups that call for violence or terrorism against Jews and Israel,” said the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman. “We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Facebook on issues of mutual concern, including hate speech, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.”


The dispute has resurrected long-simmering concerns among some groups over Zuckerberg’s perceived lack of solidarity with the Jewish people.

Zuckerberg was raised in a Jewish home and belonged to Alpha Epsilon Pi, a historically Jewish fraternity, before dropping out of Harvard University in 2004. He has since described himself as an atheist, however, and his longtime girlfriend is not Jewish.

Even before the intifada controversy, users had already created several Facebook sites about Zuckerberg’s religion, including “Join us to tell Mark Zuckerberg about his moral duty to support Israel” and “Why is Mark Zuckerberg a self-hating Jew?”

None of the official requests to Zuckerberg regarding the intifada page had tried appealing to his Jewish roots.


“ADL does not make appeals based on a person’s religious identity,” explained Deborah Lauter, the ADL’s civil rights director, in a statement. “We have appealed to Mark Zuckerberg — and his colleagues — in their professional capacities, including their sense of reason, decency and fairness.”

In 2009, prompted by the existence of Holocaust-denial groups on the site, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs accused Facebook of creating “an anti-Semitic policy platform where the only explicitly allowed hate is that, within certain parameters, directed against Jews.”

The first Palestinian intifada began in 1987; the second uprising began in 2000. The proposed third intifada date is May 15, which Palestinians mourn as Nakba Day, or Catastrophe Day, marking the day after the 1948 establishment of Israel, when hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes.

– NICOLE NEROULIAS, Religion News Service

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment oferdesade

    the 1st intifada was instigated by israeli arabs protesting against discrimination. there are those on both sides who might even justify them.
    the 2nd intifada was the result of arab propoganda that sharon was planning to destroy the temple mount – ludicrous.
    the 3rd intifada is being called for to celebrate a day in which arabs voluntarily fled israel after the 48 war (instigated by arab states) because their arab brethren told them israel would soon be destroyed and they would be able to return to their homes. not a word about the same number of jews who fled arab countries.

    uprisings in arab countries are against totalitarian theocracies. israel may have a couple of religious ministers (3 out of 20?) and some of its politicians may belong in jail (and some even end up there – even the former president), but to call israel a totalitarian theocracy (and that’s what many christians – living in, and being murdered by its totalitarian neighbours – are doing) is a cynical mixture of hypocrisy and lies.

  • krt

    Why did you exclude the following two sentences that was included in the USA Today posting of your article?

    Facebook officials told The New York Times that the page contained “direct calls for violence against Israel and Jews” including comments by the page managers.

    “After administrators of the page received repeated warnings about posts that violated our policies, we removed the page,” Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Facebook, told The Times.

    They seem pretty significant and somewhat change the character of your report.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    I don’t use Facebook and I don’t know what’s on those pages, but Palestinians should have exactly the same rights to militate for freedom that any other group has. Certainly Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians and other neighbors, and their ongoing theft of Palestinians’ lands justify an uprising.

    If say Canadians were stealing US citizens’ land day after day for decades on end and flying over us shooting rockets here and there killing US citizens we’d want to rise up and gain our freedom.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment The Atheist Jew

    nnmns, War Crimes? Stealing land? Give me a break. The better analogy is that if Canada lobbed rockets into Israel like the Gazans do, the USA would carpet bomb Canada if regular negotiations broke down.
    Israel is a legitimate country, created like every other country in the world, by might and negotiations.
    The Palestinians have had many opportunities for peaceful resolution but turned all of them down, why? Because for some reason, Jews migrating to the middle East (and creating a State in a land that was not sovereign) is bad, but Arabs migrating to the West (and having a majority in places like Dearborn) is OK.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    Israeli War crimes (from The Nation}
    Editor’s Note: This statement was issued December 27 in response to Israel’s attack in Gaza by Professor Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Territories and a longtime member of The Nation’s editorial board.

    The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.

    Those violations include:

    Collective punishment: The entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

    Targeting civilians: The airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

    Disproportionate military response: The airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza’s elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

    The article goes on. Read it and/or Google “Israel war crimes” and choose your source. There are of course newer ones and others, such as the thousands of cluster bombs left in the ground in Lebanon that have been killing and maiming kids and farmers.

    As for theft of land, if you haven’t noticed that you really haven’t been paying attention. Or maybe you’ve profited from it. I’m sure a lot of people have.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mordred08

    If they were advocating violence on the page then yes, it should have been taken down. Any page that advocates violence should be taken down.

    However, attacking Mark Zuckerberg and accusing him of being a “self-hating Jew” for whatever reason isn’t very good either. And to be honest, there are people out there clearly trying to portray the Palestinians as an irredeemably evil group of people who deserve whatever they get. That’s not going to make things better, I promise you.

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