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Social Media and Israel: Censorship of the Truth

Photo by Susan Ruggles | CC BY 2.0

The growing desperation of Israel to avoid public knowledge of its many war crimes and crimes against humanity knows no bounds. The country that, with United States support, proclaims itself the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’, has, like its U.S. sponsor, a highly skewed opinion of what constitutes a democracy.

Freedom of the press is a hallmark of any nation that wants to define itself as a democracy. How does Israel ‘respect’ freedom of the press? The organization, Reporters without Borders in April of this year accused the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces; read: Israeli Government Terrorists) of the intentional shooting of reporters. Nothing has changed since then, as more unarmed members of the press have been shot by Israeli terrorists. And during Israel’s carpet-bombing of Gaza in 2014, clearly marked press vehicles and offices were targeted by Israel.

In April of this year, a program entitled “A Jewish-American on Israel’s Fascism: No Hope for Change from Within’, from the ‘Empire Files’, the teleSur program that is hosted by Abby Martin, was blocked in 28 countries. The program was a study of the militaristic posture that Israelis increasingly take towards Palestinians. The purported reason was that the program content violated ‘local laws’.

An interview with journalist Max Blumenthal was part of the program. Questioned later about his participation in the context of the program being so widely blocked, he stated that nothing in his comments “was even remotely illegal, even in countries with the strictest hate-crime laws.” When he was asked his opinion as to the reason for the video being blocked, he said that the decision was “likely made under pressure from powerful pro-Israel interests.”

So much for freedom of the press in Israel.

Another vital component of any democracy is freedom of speech.

In January of this year, MintPress News reported that Facebook spokespeople admitted that Facebook was deleting accounts, as directed by Israel and the United States. This was a natural outcome of meetings that Facebook had with some of the most extremist of Israeli officials, to establish which Facebook accounts of Palestinians and their supporters around the world were to be deleted.

This writer recently inquired on his Facebook account if other people were seeing a diminution of articles about Palestine. After his own three-day suspension from Facebook, for commenting ‘Israeli savages’ on a post about Israeli savagery, he seemed to see fewer and fewer articles about Palestine. This was most surprising, since over time, most of the posts on his Facebook page were on that topic.

Now it has been reported that up to 70% of pro-Palestine posts on both Facebook and Twitter are being deleted at the behest of Israel and the U.S. That, of course, is another country that proclaims it is a democracy, when it is, and has long (always?) been an oligarchy. But birds of a feather flock together, so it’s only natural that Israel and the U.S. would state, against all evidence, that they are democracies.

Free speech? Somehow, in the bizarre manner in which Israel defines ‘democracy’, free speech isn’t included.

Let’s look at yet another component of a democracy: equality under the law. In Israel, there is one set of laws for Israelis, and another for everyone else. Crimes committed by Arabs have consequences far more severe than the same crimes committed by Israelis. For example: an Israeli can burn an Arab infant to death, and receive a few-months-long prison sentence, and be proclaimed a hero. A Palestinian child can be accused of throwing a rock at an IDF soldier, perhaps one supervising the destruction of the child’s home, and he can be held for years without charge or access to a lawyer or even his parents, and then be sentenced to up to fifteen years in prison.

Transparency is also a component of a democracy. The actions of a democratic country are out in the open, because such a nation will want to prove itself to the world, and make any course corrections that may be required. The U.S., while proclaiming itself a model for the rest of the planet, hides its crimes of kidnapping, torture, and the murders of millions of people either through denial (kidnapping and torture), or by proclaiming, oddly, that the murders of millions will bring democracy to their lands.

In Israel, any time that nation is accused of some heinous crime, such as shooting four innocent children playing on a beach, it says that it will internally investigate the situation; no outside view is necessary. And then, surprise of all surprises, it finds that its soldiers/terrorists did nothing wrong. When two teenage boys, after observing but not participating in a demonstration against the occupation, were shot in the back when walking away, in a murder videotaped on the security camera of a nearby store, the internal ‘investigation’ exonerated the perpetrator.

On June 1, Razan al-Najjar, a 21-year-old Palestinian medic, was shot and killed by Israeli snipers as she was attempting to assist the wounded. It was reported that Israel will investigate the death, but a military spokesman said that the sniper operated “in accordance with standard operating procedures.” One does not doubt this, but such a statement causes one to wonder what those ‘standard operating procedures’ are. And we can all expect the sniper who murdered her to be completely exonerated.

Following the brutal Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014, the United Nations demanded to be allowed to enter Gaza, to investigate the possibility of war crimes. Israel refused to allow U.N. personnel into the beleaguered Gaza Strip, and the ineffectual U.N. was powerless to overrule Israel. But if Israel has nothing to hide, why not allow the U.N. in?

Israel can no longer hide its crimes. It can pay Israeli students to post positive information about that apartheid state on social media sites. It can pressure Facebook, Twitter and others to censor news and information. But what it can’t do is reform its own reputation which is far too tattered to ever be repaired. And with the full backing of the disreputable Trump administration, the Israeli reputation can only worsen.

Yet the efforts of the millions of people around the world who support Palestinians rights and international law must not diminish even for a moment. Despite the increasing knowledge of Israel atrocities against the Palestinians, things have not improved for those oppressed people. The Gaza Strip remains the largest outdoor prison in the world, housed by ‘inmates’ who have committed no crimes. Conditions are such that the entire Gaza Strip may be completely uninhabitable in two years. Palestinians in the West Bank continue to suffer from land thefts, home demolitions, arrests without charge and murderous assaults by illegal settlers. In Jerusalem, Palestinian worshippers are often prevented from worshipping at their holiest sites.

A tipping point seems to have been reached concerning Israeli atrocities, but until Palestinians have an independent and free nation on the pre-1967 borders, the fight cannot and will not end.

More articles by:

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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