Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Facebook - Online Antisemitism and Jewhatred version 2.0. - "Social Antisemitism" on the "Social Web"

Facebook - Helping the spread of Jewhatred, anti-Jewish propaganda and hatred against Israel.

From: Arutz Sheva

The popular international social networking website “Facebook” announced late Monday it has returned to its former policy of listing Israel as the home country of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria (Yesha).

Thousands of Israeli Facebook users living in Yesha protested vehemently last week when their home country listing was switched to “Palestine.” Facebook employees explained that the change had been made after consultations with United Nations personnel. (Yet another example of the criminal anti-semitic bias from the UN)

The change took place a scant few days after a Palestinian Authority Arab resident of the Jabel Mukabar suburb of the capital slaughtered eight young yeshiva students at the Merkaz HaRav Kook Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Legal Action was Threatened
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, National Vice President of the Coalition of Jewish Concerns (Amcha) in Washington D.C. expressed outrage at the change and said his group would look into the possibility of taking legal action.

“This contradictory policy strikes me as a clear sign of bias, defamation and improper conduct,” he said, adding that his group was exploring legal options on the matter.

“We are very concerned that Facebook has brought its wrongheaded political views into its vibrant internet community,” he told Arutz-7.

“On the one hand, they are allowing a murderer of students studying in a library to have a platform for his horrific act by means of a Facebook group praising him as a martyr. On the other hand, they are making a radical political statement and operating with explicit bias by not allowing residents of Judea and Samaria to identify themselves as living in Israel,” he pointed out.

“This is hypocritical and very possibly exposes them to legal liability,” he added.

Herzfeld began to explore the option of a class action lawsuit against the internet site to pressure it to return to its former policy. “Our attorney, first amendment expert Steve Lieberman, as well as a team of lawyers looking into this matter,” he said. “We hope to move forward with formal legal pressure within a month.”

It didn’t take a month.

Facebook announced late Monday that it will now allow users in Judea and Samaria to select either “Israel” or “Palestine” as their home country. The second option remained after thousands of Arab users threatened to close their accounts if “Palestine” was removed.

Israeli Membership Figures Skyrocketing
In February, the site reported an 80 percent increase in its Israeli membership over the prior three months.

More than 382,000 Israelis had joined the site since November, when data showed only 210,000 Israeli users. The figure represents more than 5 percent of Israel’s entire population.

More than 57 million users access Facebook worldwide.


Dr. Andre Oboler from the Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs has made this study on Google and Facebook:

Case 1: The "Israel is not a state" Facebook Group

Facebook is a popular social-networking site. It is, after google.co.uk, the most popular website in the UK. In the United States it ranks fifth. The site includes a function known as "groups" that users can create and join.

The group proclaiming "‘Israel' is not a country!... delist it from Facebook as a country!" is an example of an antisemitic group on Facebook. It has 32,596 members.[7] If one imagines that each of these people has an average of 150 friends - 150 to 200 would be more accurate[8] - then this group will have been advertised to about 4.9 million people. The "not a country" group has a description that is roughly half antisemitism and half denial of its antisemitic nature. This is evident in the first paragraph:

This group does not attack any groups or individuals. Our goal is to reach a peaceful solution. It simply states that "Israel" is presently an apartheid regime. This group strongly condemns racism and does not tolerate it. Criticism of illegitimate apartheid-"Israel," which has no right to exist, cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic, even according to the international working definition of anti-Semitism that was accepted and adopted in 2005.

The passage mixes two antisemitic assertions with three claims against racism. An international working definition of antisemitism is adduced as proof of the non-antisemitism of the group. The definition is incorrectly introduced as international (it is European) and is not quoted, linked to, or properly referenced. This makes it difficult for casual readers to verify this claim, forcing them to accept or reject it at face value.

The two examples of antisemitism are the demonization of Israel as an apartheid state and the denial of Israel's right to exist. The EU definition lists as one form of antisemitism "denying the Jewish people their right to self­-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour."[9] Other examples of antisemitism can be found throughout the text. These include the idea that most "Arabs are Semites... unlike most Jews, who are mainly Europeans and Americans" and that "European Zionists" are the real antisemites while Arabs suffer from antisemitism.

In addition to hijacking the term antisemitism, the opening paragraph of "Israel is not a state" charges that Zionists falsely claim antisemitism was intended only against Jews and that "anyone with an elementary education" would know "anti" is nothing but a prefix. There were also attempts to rewrite the definition of antisemitism in Wikipedia and there was a proliferation of this argument on web-based student forums. [10] Another popular claim seen on student forums is that Ashkenazi Jews are Europeans who converted to Judaism and are not really "Semites."

The group tries to separate Judaism and Israel. It declares that Zionism is against the Jewish religion. Links are provided to four sites associated with anti-Zionist Jewish groups including multiple sites of the Neturei Karta sect. Reference is also made to Norman Finkelstein's The Holocaust Industry along with a commentary that "its [sic] very ironic to hear ‘Israelis' doing and saying the same things as the Nazis." The group also links to a large number of anti-Israeli (and often antisemitic) websites.

Such a site can be advertised to something like 4.9 million people, many of them ignorant about Judaism, Zionism, and Israel. This is only one group on Facebook and the message may well be ignored the first few times it is presented. Repeated often enough it may become accepted by many as popular truth.

Case 2: Creating Palestine in Google Earth

Google Earth is an application that "combines the power of Google Search with satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips."[11] The site allows users to help build up the database of knowledge by adding information to geographic sites that can include text, photographs, and website links. Information can either be stored in the core layer (which all users see) or in additional layers that users download separately. Custom layers function like a transparency with additional markings that can be placed over the map.

For geographic information, a comparison can be drawn between Google Earth and the online MSN Encarta encyclopedia. Encarta is a website that is not Web 2.0 based. All articles are written by experts and checked by editors. The result, for example, is the label "West Bank (Disputed)" near Hebron. By contrast, Google Earth simply sees the area as the "West Bank." In Google Earth there is an active project to create a virtual Palestine superimposed on Israel. This effort is linked to a campaign known as "Palestine Remembered," and each "destroyed Palestinian village" placed in Israel on Google Earth provides information that links to their site.

The text provided for each Palestinian village gives its name and says, "This is one of the Palestinian localities evacuated and destroyed after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. For basic information about this locality, including brief history, the 1948 events, its current status, pictures and statistics, visit: www.palestineremembered.com."

Whereas a Palestine "layer" in Google Earth, an optional extra that people could download, would be acceptable, in this instance these locations, along with the reference to the website, have been merged into the core layer. That is, this political message is given the same status of essential information as the existence of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. This is a form of geographic replacement and an establishment of "facts on the ground." For those who will not physically visit Israel these facts on this virtual ground are real. It is to be expected that people will form their opinion on the right to land in this area based on information sources such as Google Earth.

This replacement geography has been occurring in the real world with the destruction of Jewish artifacts at the Temple Mount.[12] It has already occurred previously in Google Earth, for example, when the Temple Mount - (annexed to Israel) - was placed in "Occupied Territory."[13] In addition, the narrative of Israeli aggression and ethnic cleansing, an aspect of Antisemitism 2.0, is spread via the text and link provided on each geographic location.

The "Palestine remembered" site, linked to by each location, has over six thousand members. It includes such information on Palestine as "a quiz on Israeli democracy," "Zionist Frequently asked questions," "Famous Zionist quotes," "Israel's right to be racist," "Nakba deniers explained," and "Zionism and its impact for beginners." The site promotes a narrative of ethnic cleansing as Israeli policy. It includes quotes from Israeli and Zionist leaders on a page of "Apartheid & Racist Attitudes-Zionist Quotes." The Labor Zionist ideals of a Jewish workforce are described as anti-Arab racism. Jewish leaders' expressions of concern for equal treatment of Arabs is presented as evidence of inherent Zionist racism. The very ideal of Zionism is presented as a racist endeavor.

Not all the people who wander into the "virtual Palestine" created in Google Earth will end up seeing these pages. Yet, in any case, people looking at Israel in Google Earth should see what is actually there, not a Palestinian narrative of replacement geography. Links should not be added to the core layer without some sort of quality control being implemented. This editorial control and differentiation between general user content and authorized core content should distinguish Google Earth from other Web 2.0 applications. Such quality control is not in evidence at present, at least not in this geographic region. As noted in the Jerusalem Post, "only in Israel do GE users find blatantly political opinions, mostly favoring the Palestinian point of view."[14] If the core layer is used differently in Israel and in the rest of the world, that itself is an application of double standards and antisemitic in result if not in intent.

A Systematic Approach to Monitoring Antisemitism 2.0

Most people who encounter online antisemitism are probably not looking for it. JewWatch,[43] labeled an "antisemitic and racist organization" by Attorney-General Jay Nixon of Missouri,[44] would not receive so much publicity if it were not one of the first results yielded by a Google search on the word "Jew". It is this repeated "accidental" encountering of antisemitism that leads to creeping social acceptance.

JewWatch is an old-fashioned website, but Web 2.0 services allow similar searches, with similar-if less startling-results. Here the focus is on manifestations of New Antisemitism and specifically on the search results for "Israel," "Zionism," and "apartheid."

Facebook Antisemitism

In the Israel network the top seven results in a search for "Zionism" show groups with a Palestinian flag as their logo, and a copy of the text from the above-discussed "Israel is not a state" Facebook group. The duplicated text again links to various anti-Israeli and antisemitic sites. There are currently seventy-five groups that have been taken over in this way, ranging from birthright Israel groups to movie-appreciation groups. They have all been taken over by the same person who remains as the new owner of these groups. Some original members remain in the groups and have failed to notice the change.

A global search shows the group "Anti-Zionism" at the top of the list with 666 members. The group begins by saying it is for "anyone who is against the systematic oppression and aggressive imperialism of the Zionist regime. We are not anti-semitic in any way, shape, or form and we are not calling for the destruction of Israel." It then shows four images, one of which is a graphic photograph of the result of a suicide bombing.

The group's main image is of Neturei Karta UK. Also on page 1 is the group "Arab Americans Anti-Zionism Movement," where many links to Neturei Karta YouTube videos have been posted. Another group called "We are against Zionism" is almost entirely in Arabic. It includes graphic images of dead babies. Beyond page 1 are groups promoting conspiracy theories of Jewish world domination, media domination, a fan club for Norman Finkelstein, a group praising Ahmadinejad, and a group describing Israel as a Nazi state.

The "Nazi Israel Must Go!" group uses the same approach. It begins with: "this group does not attack any groups or individuals. It simply states that ‘Israel' is a Nazi State.... Criticism of racist apartheid ‘Israel' cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic...." The group proceeds to draw comparisons between Israel and the Nazis. It does not reiterate the anti-Zionist text in the preceding group, but includes its own set of links to videos and websites. Noam Chomsky, George Galloway, Norman Finkelstein, and Carlos Latuff are all featured.

A search for "apartheid" brings up mainly anti-Israeli material. The top group is "Educate yourself and the masses about the Illegal Apartheid in Palestine." The group claims "Anti-Semitism is not Anti-Jewish" and that "the term [antisemitism] itself is put into use by Zionists only to delegitimize those who question or deny the Holocaust and those who criticize the atrocities committed by the Israeli government and wish for the dissolvement [sic] of the state itself." This is again the "Livingstone formulation."[45]

In addition to denying even the possibility of Arab antisemitism, the group's introduction rewrites history and promotes understanding of Hamas and the destruction of Israel. The group has 488 members. In addition to this site, the first page (i.e., the first ten groups) for the "apartheid" search also includes two "Apartheid Wall" groups, one "Apartheid Israel" group, and a group promoting Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. South Africa features just twice. A search through Facebook groups for "Israel" does not give problematic results, largely because there are so many legitimate Israel groups that negative material is overwhelmed.

A third-party add-in to Facebook "causes" allows users to create and join a "cause" that is similar to a Facebook group but also allows donations to be made to a charity that the "cause" has chosen to support. A search for "apartheid" shows six "causes" including "Boycott Israeli Apartheid" with 5,863 members[46] and "Cupcake Lovers Against The Israeli Colonisation of Palestine" with 212 members.[47] The "Boycott Israeli Apartheid" cause was originally raising money for Human Rights Watch. However, this connection was severed following an email sent by the author to Human Rights Watch on 2 December 2007. The use of human rights organizations to promote antisemitic demonization campaigns increases the social acceptability of antisemitism in a dramatic way and is something civil society needs to be on guard against, particularly online. [end - Read the full article HERE]

Honest Reporting has looked into the matter too.


Facebook is a fun social networking site with over 65 million users. Recently, however, Facebook has revealed a darker side. Members of HonestReporting's own Facebook group last week received an alert drawing their attention to the existence of a Facebook group honoring the terrorist who murdered eight students in a Jerusalem yeshiva.

Translated from Arabic by The Israel Project, in addition to glorifying the students' murder, the Facebook page dedicated to terrorist Ala'a Abu Dheim refers to him as a "martyr" and links to a page that calls Jews "pigs" and calls for the closure of Israel's embassy in Jordan, a country with which Israel has maintained diplomatic relations since 1994.

HonestReporting's Facebook group members were directed to an alternative group set up to protest this glorification of terror and requested to report the offensive group to Facebook's administrators.

This example is only the tip of a rapidly growing iceberg. Facebook has become a very potent and dangerous tool for promoting hatred and the delegitimzation of Israel. A Facebook group advocates that "Israel is not a country" and claims that "criticism of illegitimate apartheid 'Israel', which has no right to exist, cannot be regarded as antisemitic". The group calls on Facebook to refer to "Occupied Palestine" rather than "Israel". Meanwhile Facebook's own administrators have courted controversy by changing the preset location of Israeli settlements in the disputed territories to "Palestine" instead of "Israel".

Anti-Israel propagandists and terror supporters have correctly identified Facebook and other Social Media applications such as YouTube as a means of spreading their hatred. HonestReporting is on the frontline, going beyond traditional print and television media but we need your help. Unlike newspapers, Social Media relies for content not from professional journalists but on YOU, the ordinary reader.

So engage in these sites and respond to anti-Israel content through, not only online protest, but also by promoting positive material to bring the real picture about Israel to millions of unaffiliated web users. Start by signing up to Facebook and becoming a member of HonestReporting's own group.

HonestReporting. com


Andre Oboler said...

Thanks for sharing the material from the new report. If your readers are interested, more information can be seen at Zionism On The Web, and particularly in the antisemitism section.

Tim said...

Facebook can be a powerful way of helping out. Here is an example where I hope to help out WWF at the same time as I struggle to tell the world about a new ultra-cool city guide.

We donate $1 for every 10 people that join to the WWF.

Check out the group on Facebook:

Check out the web site:
Urban Shortcut

Robin said...

You may be interested to know that the person(s) behind the "Israel is not a state" group were also responsible for a wave of mass group hijackings. When I discovered this last autumn, I created the counter-group "Stop the Anti-Zionist spammer(s)!" which, while it never received major attention, looks like it may have had some impact - all but one of the hijacked threads that I managed to find have since been deleted.

Just thought you might be interested.