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October 20, 2015 0

This Intifada is in Your Social Media Feed

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Times of Israel Blog

The knife, bran­dished in the air and drip­ping with blood, is the icon of the cur­rent wave of Pales­tin­ian vio­lence against Israelis. This visual is the new sym­bol cel­e­brat­ing the seem­ingly non-stop pro­lif­er­a­tion of attacks by Pales­tini­ans against Israelis – many of them stab­bings – and incites more hate, more ter­ror, more vio­lence to an audi­ence primed to act on it.

“The Social Media Intifada” is the title being used for the cur­rent spate of ter­ror attacks, fea­tured on Face­book and other social media plat­forms, where Pales­tin­ian attack­ers are cel­e­brated as mar­tyrs, heroes and even as vic­tims of Israeli bru­tal­ity. On Twit­ter, poten­tial ter­ror­ists are exhorted to stab and kill Jews. Videos of Mus­lim preach­ers call­ing for attacks on Jews (one while hold­ing a knife),even instruc­tional videos on how to stab effec­tively, go viral. Pro­lif­er­at­ing on social media are car­toons of attacks on Israelis and alle­ga­tions of a Jewish/Israeli con­spir­acy to take over the Al Aqsa mosque.

Pales­tin­ian incite­ment to vio­lence isn’t new, but the medium and the method is. Dur­ing pre­vi­ous peri­ods of Pales­tin­ian vio­lence – such as the Sec­ond Intifada – we saw calls for vio­lence and wide­spread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries. Pub­lic squares, parks and schools were named in honor of those who per­pe­trated ter­ror­ist attacks against Israeli civil­ians. Pop­u­lar songs cel­e­brated the attack­ers. But behind most of the prior vio­lent chap­ters of the con­flict, it was the Pales­tin­ian lead­er­ship – the PLO, Hamas, Fatah, the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity, and oth­ers – who were pro­mot­ing and enabling the hate-filled mes­sages and the vio­lent action. Last Autumn, while social media emerged as a means of cel­e­brat­ing and encour­ag­ing vio­lence against Israelis, its impact was limited.

To be sure, in this cur­rent period, PA Pres­i­dent Abbas and other lead­er­ship are poi­son­ing the atmos­phere with incen­di­ary rhetoric. His fan­tas­ti­cal alle­ga­tion last week that Israel had “exe­cuted” a Pales­tin­ian boy – who was in real­ity being treated in an Israeli hos­pi­tal after stab­bing a 13-year-old rid­ing his bicy­cle near his Jerusalem home – is only the most recent example.

How­ever, at present, Israeli secu­rity experts say social media – not Pales­tin­ian lead­ers – is the pri­mary force dri­ving the vio­lence. The incite­ment, the mis­in­for­ma­tion, and the hate that inspire the stab­bings, shoot­ings, rock throw­ing and car ram­ming attacks are spread­ing via smart phone — and con­stantly. Ter­ror­ists who were killed mid-attack are upheld as heroes and mar­tyrs, their deadly actions ignored.

And, yes, there are also Israelis who are post­ing hate-filled incen­di­ary mes­sages, includ­ing calls for “death to Arabs” and a “sec­ond Nakba.” While there have been only a hand­ful of vio­lent attacks by Israelis against Arabs in recent weeks, the risk of more Israeli vio­lence increases as this cri­sis goes on.

Social media can mobi­lize for good and for evil. Demo­c­ra­tic forces in the Jas­mine Rev­o­lu­tion and Tahrir Square used Twit­ter and Face­book to orga­nize against author­i­tar­ian rule in the Arab Spring. Viral videos of peo­ple dump­ing ice water on their heads raised mil­lions to find a cure for ALS. Social media has raised pub­lic aware­ness of a plethora of social jus­tice issues – from #Bring­Back­Our­Girls to #Black­Lives­Mat­ter. But social media has also enabled ISIS and other extrem­ist ter­ror­ist groups and their sup­port­ers to recruit youth from around the world to join their vio­lent cause. And on this side of the ledger, we can add the cur­rent wave of violence.

ADL pro­motes two approaches to address this prob­lem: remov­ing incen­di­ary speech and chal­leng­ing hate speech with good speech. For years, we have been work­ing with social media com­pa­nies to improve poli­cies and pro­to­cols for the removal of con­tent that incites vio­lence or big­otry, con­tent that is con­trary to the com­pa­nies’ terms of ser­vice. But we also pro­mote counter-speech, where activists and all con­cerned peo­ple use social media to con­demn vio­lence, to urge mod­er­a­tion, and even to try to dis­suade poten­tial ter­ror­ists before they move to action.

The real­ity is, what hap­pens online reflects what’s going on in soci­ety. In order for counter-speech to be an effec­tive tool address­ing the “social media Intifada,” those with influ­ence, whether in the online world or in world capi­tols, need to con­demn Pales­tin­ian incite­ment and ter­ror­ism clearly and unequiv­o­cally. Inter­net users who come across calls for vio­lence online, should report it imme­di­ately to the inter­net provider (see our guide to learn how). In many cases, such con­tent vio­lates their terms of ser­vice and the page will be removed.

The social media com­pa­nies we work with are mak­ing good faith efforts to enforce their poli­cies, but the con­tent that appears online can­not be divorced from real-world hate. It is still too early to know how this cur­rent chap­ter in the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict will develop. Let’s hope respon­si­ble voices and action prevail.

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October 13, 2015 0

Caricatures and Images Incite Violence Against Israelis

As Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ism con­tin­ues in Israel, media out­lets from across the Arab and Mus­lim world are pub­lish­ing car­toons which glo­rify the killing of Israelis and Jews. These vio­lent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic car­i­ca­tures are being reposted on social media, and are being used to incite fur­ther ter­ror attacks against Israelis.

A promi­nent theme of these car­toons and social media posts relate to the daily spate of Pales­tin­ian stab­bing attacks of Israelis. Among the car­toons are depic­tions of a Pales­tin­ian with a large knife being used to stab Israeli sol­diers, Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu and other Jews, and some glo­rify spe­cific ter­ror attacks includ­ing the Octo­ber 3rd killing of Nehemia Lavi in Jerusalem’s Old City. Some of these car­toons are cir­cu­lat­ing on social media with mes­sages advo­cat­ing vio­lence against Jews and Israelis. Oth­ers, which do not appear to have orig­i­nated from media sources, are tagged with state­ments like “Happy Inter­na­tional Stab a Jew Day” and “stab a Jew today.”  Also cir­cu­lat­ing widely are pho­tos and videos of Gaza Imam Sheikh Muham­mad Sal­lah who, in his ser­mon this past Fri­day, held a knife in a stab­bing motion, and expressed sup­port for stab­bing Israelis.

Another ongo­ing theme is the con­spir­acy the­ory that Israel and Jews are seek­ing to take over the Tem­ple Mount/Noble Sanc­tu­ary and “Judaize” Jerusalem by remov­ing the Mus­lim con­nec­tion to the city. A num­ber of Pales­tin­ian lead­ers have in recent weeks fueled this con­spir­acy with false and out­landish state­ments, includ­ing Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Abbas who last month accused Jews of “des­e­crat­ing” the Tem­ple Mount/Noble Sanc­tu­ary area “with their filthy feet.” This theme, which has been preva­lent for years across the region, is often rep­re­sented by an Israeli or Jew­ish car­i­ca­ture — often in the form of an ani­mal or insect — steal­ing, uproot­ing or destroy­ing the Dome of the Rock mosque.

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October 9, 2015 1

Incitement To Violence Against Jews Spreads Online

An image posted on Twitter with the Arabic hashtag #TheKnivesIntifada

An image posted on Twitter

As vio­lence con­tin­ues in Israel, with a deadly shoot­ing and mul­ti­ple stab­bing and other attacks against Israelis this past week, indi­vid­u­als cel­e­brat­ing and pro­mot­ing ter­ror­ism have taken to social media to encour­age vio­lence against Jews and Israelis.

Vio­lent hash­tags includ­ing #staba­jew and the Arabic-language hash­tag #theknivesin­tifada are being used by a wide spec­trum of indi­vid­u­als who appear to sup­port the mur­ders of Israelis. The hash­tag #alqud­sun­der­at­tack is also being used in con­junc­tion with the vio­lence, par­tic­u­larly by Pales­tin­ian orga­ni­za­tions and their sup­port­ers seek­ing reli­gious jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for ter­ror­ist incitement.

Online videos pro­mot­ing the vio­lence have included a car­toon re-enactment of the killing of Eitam and Naama Henkin, a young cou­ple killed by Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists last Thurs­day in front of their chil­dren while dri­ving in the West Bank. The video par­al­lels car­toon videos that grew pop­u­lar dur­ing car attacks against Israelis last fall.

A tweet by Hamas states, "We congratulate and support all forms of resistance using our people as a weapon under the complexities of the security situation.”

A tweet on the Hamas Twit­ter account reads, “We bless and sup­port all forms of resis­tance in which our peo­ple use what­ever weapons are avail­able under the com­pli­cated secu­rity situation.”

Pales­tin­ian groups includ­ing Hamas and Fatah have added to the cli­mate of online hate. Hamas’s social media pages and web­site have applauded the vio­lence; one Tweet from an offi­cial Hamas plat­form read, “We bless and sup­port all forms of resis­tance in which our peo­ple use what­ever weapons are avail­able under the com­pli­cated secu­rity sit­u­a­tion.” Another Hamas tweet said Israel had brought “lone wolf” attacks upon itself, bor­row­ing the phrase from ISIS and Al Qaeda, which have encour­aged inde­pen­dent, ‘lone wolf’ action in their pro­pa­ganda mate­ri­als. Other Hamas posts glo­ri­fied indi­vid­u­als asso­ci­ated with the mur­ders of Israelis.

Social media posts affil­i­ated with the Pales­tin­ian Fatah party have included images of iden­ti­fi­able Jew­ish car­i­ca­tures being stabbed with knives.

ISIS sup­port­ers online, known for their adept manip­u­la­tion of social media, are vocal on the issue as well. Mul­ti­ple ISIS sup­port­ers have posted online threats against Jews. One indi­vid­ual who is a promi­nent ISIS sup­porter on Twit­ter based on his per­sis­tent online pres­ence, strong fol­low­ing among other ISIS sup­port­ers, and reg­u­lar post­ing of pro-ISIS news and pro­pa­ganda posted a series of Tweets encour­ag­ing stab­bings of Jews, includ­ing, “Kill jews. Kill all of them,” “Stab a Jew

A prominent ISIS supporter on Twitter posted about killing Jews

An ISIS sup­porter on Twit­ter posted about killing Jews

today. Tomor­row. Every­day,” “Happy inter­na­tional stab a Jew day guys,” and “Stab jews and have a juice.” Another equally promi­nent indi­vid­ual posted a sim­i­lar series of Tweets that included, “Don (sic) stop oh mus­lims ‚They (sic) are the worst 123456789…… #STABa­jew,” and “One of the worst cre­ation, 123456789…… #STABaJEW.”

Other ISIS sup­port­ers have posted state­ments claim­ing that ISIS will soon con­quer Israel. Another promi­nent ISIS sup­porter on Twit­ter re-tweeted a news­pa­per head­line, “The Islamist extrem­ism plagu­ing the Mid­dle East has arrived” with the cap­tion, “We told you we were com­ing.” Another ISIS sup­porter posted a graphic depict­ing ISIS fight­ers in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem with the hash­tag #Qarib­an­qariba, which is asso­ci­ated with ISIS attacks. Posts threat­en­ing ISIS attacks against

A tweet by an ISIS supporter suggesting that the terror group will conquer Jerusalem

A tweet by an ISIS sup­porter threat­en­ing that the ter­ror group will con­quer Jerusalem

Israel were also com­mon dur­ing the vio­lence in Israel last fall, when they were dis­trib­uted by ISIS sup­port­ers as well as by offi­cial ISIS pro­pa­ganda outlets.

A third genre of posts by ISIS sup­port­ers attempts to widen the con­flict, mak­ing it clear that they believe it is not a local­ized issue but rather a global bat­tle between Mus­lims and Jews. This type of sen­ti­ment is com­mon in Islamic extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy, which often attempts to por­tray local issues as part of a larger con­flict between Islam and the West. One user, for exam­ple, wrote, “Do you want to lib­er­ate Qudus (Jerusalem)? You have to kill All Jews in the World.” Another wrote, “#Jews who kill #Mus­lim­s­They amuse them­selvesBy con­tin­u­ing to abuse­And accuse of killingAnd refuse to stop this#ISIS #Israel #poem,” and, most bla­tantly, yet another wrote, “So see it’s not Israeli on Pales­tin­ian thing. This is a yahoodi (Jew­ish) verses (sic) Mus­lim thing. Islam vs. Judaism.”

ISIS actively pro­moted the above sen­ti­ments as recently as last month, when ISIS pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zines in French and Eng­lish both fea­tured cover sto­ries about Jews. ISIS has pre­vi­ously released videos threat­en­ing to con­quer Israel as well as other pro­pa­ganda state­ments that threat­ened both Israel and Jews. Addi­tional exam­ples may be found in the ADL’s recent report, Anti-Semitism: A Pil­lar of Islamic Extrem­ist Ide­ol­ogy.

The online activ­ity is broadly rem­i­nis­cent of social media posts last Novem­ber, when calls for and glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of stab­bing attacks against Israelis pro­lif­er­ated on Face­book, Twit­ter and other sites after a ter­ror­ist stabbed wor­shipers in a Jerusalem synagogue.

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