Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Social Media Intifada - The Poisoning Of The Arab Mind

Social Media Intifada - The Poisoning Of The Arab Mind

October 19, 2015 

By Tom Olago
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The latest Palestinian uprising, or so-called ‘third Intifada’,  in is full swing. Unlike the first two intifadas, however, the indoctrination and incitement channels used are far more rooted in popular social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.

No wonder, then, that it has been dubbed the ‘Social Media Intifada’, with amateur videos, photos, posts and tweets against the ‘Israeli occupation’ in wide circulation. Many of these have gone viral, and with deadly effect due to the consistent and often unbridled calls to violent resistance.

According to recent reports, the natural consequence of the increased and extensive spread in the use of anti-Israeli propaganda via social media is having its intended effect: the upsurge in physical attacks on civilian Jews and Israeli security forces.

So effective are the social media incitements, that the Israel Law Center reportedly plans to file a class-action lawsuit against social media giant Facebook for “incitement and encouragement of violence against Israelis.”

The lawsuit will accuse Facebook of facilitating terror attacks by allowing its members to post ‘anti-Semitic propaganda, gory videos and other materials supporting violence against Israelis’. A spokeswoman for Facebook countered this accusation by stating that according to Facebook policy: “There is no place for content encouraging violence, direct threats, terrorism or hate speech on Facebook…We urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate and take swift action.”

The lawsuit against Facebook is apparently designed to piggy-back off U.S. law principles, including the Anti-Terrorism Act, which is said to allow American citizens injured in terrorist attacks to sue anybody involved in helping the terrorists. But, based on similar previous legal precedents, the lawsuit is unlikely to succeed although it would at least gain the Israel Law Center some publicity, and potentially lend additional support to its voice.

Another prominent protesting group is the Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), whose spokesmen stated that: “Social networks have been used by terrorists and their supporters to celebrate and incite deadly continuous attacks on Jewish men, women, and children across Israel.”

In the interim, Facebook has responded by pulling down such accounts, comments videos and posts deemed offensive or otherwise in conflict with its policies. Complaints lodged with other social media channels, primarily Google-owned YouTube and Twitter, have resulted in similar action being taken.

The problem with this approach, however, is that it is essentially re-active. It is only after the postings have been made and potentially circulated virally, that action can be taken to pull down the offensive posts. By then, it would be too late to minimize their reach and impact.

Matters are not helped by the fact that social media platforms depend primarily upon user complaints and reports, to be alerted on potential violations or abuses of policy. It has been noted that this approach effectively leaves policing in the hands of users, with the websites merely making the final decision as to whether or not something reported constitutes hate speech.

Yet another issue was reportedly identified by one Ms. Perlov,  Arab social media expert. She observed that Israeli and Palestinian security services had arrested hundreds of online instigators in recent months, but that it had done little good because “ideas are becoming immortal — you can take down pages but it will multiply itself.”

A recent USA Today account seems to affirm this view, stating in part that: “Twitter and Facebook are flooded with images of blood dripping off knives under hashtags such as #the_knives_intifada and #Palestine_Intifada. Many of those knife-wielding Palestinians, shot by Israeli security forces, are described as killed “in cold blood.”

The individuals who create and circulate the deadly anti-Semitic posts on social media seem to fit a certain profile. They are typically pro-Palestinian, generally Arabic, youthful but not necessarily affiliated with any particular political or terror group. What they all seem to have in common though is a fury over Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, expressed aggressively through the instigations towards violence on social media.

Muhamad Halabi, a 19-year-old law student at Al Quds would exemplify this. According to a recent New York Times narrative, Mr. Halabi had been morose since the Sept. 22 death of his friend Dia Talahma, 21, who the Israeli military said died when a grenade he was throwing at troops in the occupied West Bank detonated too early. Mr. Halabi replaced his profile picture with one of Mr. Talahma.

One day shortly after, when speaking on campus, he reportedly stated : “… we need to stand with our sisters who are being attacked at the Aqsa, we need to defend it….” A few hours later, Mr. Halabi fatally stabbed two Orthodox men in the Old City and wounded one of their wives and 2-year-old son before being shot dead. On Facebook, he is now admired as “the lion,” or “the thunder” that unleashed the new uprising.

The perpetrators of the actual violence in Israel, often reacting in response to the incitement and angry passions aroused on social media, seem to be generally well defined too. They are also social media adept, as well as technologically savvy.

Palestinian affairs expert Khaled Abu Toameh recently told The Algemeiner: “All the rioters and rock-throwers we are seeing have smartphones, computers, websites and Facebook and Twitter accounts.”

They are also predominantly youthful, with most being mere teenagers. For instance, 14 of 23 alleged assailants since October 3 were reportedly 20 or younger. At least 16 of the 23 were from East Jerusalem, in which it is said that the Palestinian Authority has no presence, and residents complain of severe neglect by Israeli institutions. These youth are essentially the same core groups of ‘foot soldiers’ of previous intifadas.

The differences with previous intifadas are however quite clear as well. According to a recent New York Times report: “The current violent uprising has a very different character than the second Palestinian intifada, whose suicide bombings were orchestrated by well-organized armed groups.

It consists of spontaneous outbursts by individual young people unaffiliated with any formal political movement. Their weapons are mainly small knives, but also screwdrivers and even a potato peeler. And their inspiration seems to come from their ubiquitous smartphones, which provide an endless stream of videos….

These leaderless assailants live in communities that applaud those who have died, often without any mention of their own violent deeds. They are motivated by social media campaigns — some by Hamas and other militant Islamist movements, many by enraged individuals — replete with glistening blades and how-to guides.

Further fanning the flames are viral videos — also broadcast by official Palestinian networks — of Israelis fatally shooting attackers, whose names are immediately added to the Facebook scroll of so-called martyrs.”

Besides the age-old occupation issue, another large part Palestinian anger and violence is attributed to claims that the revered Al Aqsa mosque is being disrespected and abused by Israelis. Palestinian leaders continually insist Israel wants to divide it, despite government denials. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made the allegation in his September 30 speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

His remarks are thought to have initially provoked this latest round of Palestinian-Israeli violence, which is now being fueled via social media. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by condemning Abbas’ speech as “deceitful” and an incitement to violence against Jews. Abbas has since encouraged Palestinians not to “militarize” their protests against Israel but stopped short of condemning the lethal attacks against Israelis.

Israel’s attempts to contain the attacks only seem to create a vicious cycle as soldiers storm a camp to search for and arrest suspects. In the almost inevitable confrontations that ensue, someone in the camp gets hurt or killed. Revenge attacks are planned and in a matter of days or even hours, Israeli police or Jewish civilians have been attacked or killed.

In the words of Daniel Nisman, president of an Israeli security analysis firm: “There’s a viral nature to these attacks: One person goes out, they get killed, then they get glorified, it makes other people want to go out…You have a significant number of people who are willing to basically commit suicide attacks; they just don’t have access to sophisticated weapons.”

This deficiency has spawned some innovation on social media on how to increase the impact of the attacks, despite owning just basic or crude weapons. In addition to praising the attacks and urging more of the same, reports say that a number of Palestinian activists have posted content with advice and instructions on how to carry out attacks.

According to separate media reports, videos and photos posted to Facebook and Twitter show detailed instructional guidance on how to stab Israelis, methods for maximum bodily damage, and ways to create deadly weapons to carry out attacks.

The posts have been published under various headings created in recent weeks such as “The Intifada Has Started,” “The Third Intifada,” “The Knife Intifada,” “Poison the Knife before You Stab,” and “Slaughtering the Jews,” according to information reportedly made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Such postings are quite detailed and graphic. One of multiple Facebook pages called “Intifada Youth Coalition – Palestine,” posted a You Tube video two weeks ago demonstrating how to carry out a deadly stabbing. In it, a young Palestinian man is portrayed stabbing one of two Jewish men in the heart and then chasing down the other to slash his throat. The website said the graphic 45-second clip violated YouTube’s policy of prohibiting hate speech.

Another key component of the social intifada strategy seems to include spreading misinformation regarding Israeli actions or reactions in many cases. These range from twisting of facts, misrepresentation of context, fomenting half-truths, and outright lies.

Jonathan Greenberg of the Salomon centre gave an example where an attempt by Israeli police to act in self-defense against a knife-wielding woman was described in social media as an ‘execution’. She was in fact wounded by a gunshot to immobilize her, and then transported to hospital for treatment. Greenberg opines: “The author isn’t interested in informing you; he wants to enrage and incite you.”

In an interview account highlighted by the Times of Israel, MK Youssef Jabareen of the Joint (Arab) List, a resident of the Israeli-Arab town of Umm el-Fahm, reportedly disagrees with the notion that Palestinians are inciting violence. Echoing a sentiment widely expressed on Arabic social media, he says Israelis are responding too harshly to stabbing attacks.

The general Arab view is that even in self-defense, the Israeli police and army tend to over-react. In Jabareen’s words: “You speak about violence as if we use violence. We don’t use violence. The violence is basically coming from the security forces and the governmental agents.”

Such self-deception is reinforced by the Western media who continue to portray the Palestinian terrorists as victims and justify Palestinian leadership incitement.

And so the socially-fueled third intifada continues, with casualties all around and with the truth being probably the biggest of them all.

Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2015/October19/194.html#32gl7OpUxJ2GHY80.99

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