Those on Facebook may be familiar with a Facebook group which was formed recently calling for a Third Palestinian Intifada. A translation of the group’s page by Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch follows:
The countries neighboring Palestine will start to advance on Palestine on May 15, and a while after that all the Islamic countries will advance. Our time is near. Palestine will be liberated, and it will be we who liberated it. Our aim at present is to reach millions of friends with this page before May.
I request that you publicize this page everywhere.
We are coming, Palestine.
Copy the link to your page, add it to your profile, and publicize it with every photograph, video, page, and everywhere:
Palestine, how negligent we have been concerning your rights. Forgive us and forgive your children for this.
You have always been our inspiration for resoluteness, for resistance, and for struggle for you to be free and Arab.
Palestine, as you were, as you still are, and as you will remain,
I love you, queen of lands!
Following the Tunisian Intifada, the Egyptian Intifada and the Libyan Intifada, it is now the turn of the Palestinian Intifada.
The first Intifada was in 1987.
The second Intifada was in 2000.
As to the third Intifada, its date will soon appear on this page.
We have contacted the managers of Arab [Facebook] pages with large numbers of friends, and they have said that they will assist us in publicizing this page. The Palestinian cause is our cause.
Publicize this page on websites, forums, and everywhere, and invite all your friends to join. If everyone invites all his friends by Allah, by today we will have more than 100,000 friends.
This page was created on March 6, 2011.
Allah willing, we will reach a million [friends] this week.
The time for Palestine’s liberation has come.
Everyone who has a Facebook page please publicize our page on yours.
Palestine will be liberated and it will be we who liberated it.
We are coming, Palestine.
If Facebook closes this page, all Muslims will boycott it forever!
I’m a fan of free speech. Where words end and deeds begin is murky at best. I’m not ignorant of the power of speech to incite to violence, though where hate speech is controlled, hate can still thrive, and where hate speech is free, peace can still reign (if the speech and those making it are seen as the crackpots that they are).
On its face, the text for the Third Intifada Facebook Group does not call for violence, bloodshed, or even hatred. It expresses love for Arab Palestine, makes no mention of Israel, and says nothing of Arabs converging with arms for a massive letting of Jewish blood. If you read the text word for word, the biggest threat expressed in the text is that of a boycott of Facebook if the site closes the Third Intifada group page.
It’s rather what the words mean that represents threatening and hateful speech. To call for a massive convergence (read: invasion) of Palestine (read: Israel) to liberate the Arabs there (read: destroy Israel), whether such a thing is really likely to happen at all, is a barely-veiled threat. To compare what is being called for here to the First Intifada (i.e. popular uprising), which caused the deaths of between 160-300 Israelis and 1,886 Arabs (1,000 of whom were killed by other Arabs), or the Second Intifada (more accurately known as the Terror War) in which over 1,000 Israelis, tens of foreigners, and thousands of Arabs lost their lives, is nothing less than another call to war. And to allow a group like this to exist on Facebook violates Facebook’s own terms of service, which stipulates that the user “will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence” and “will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.”
Now, it’s more than likely that this group’s stated goals will never come to pass. It is more than likely that the internal unrest affecting much of the Arab world will continue through May 15, and that no such convergence on Israel to “liberate” the Arabs here will take place. It is more than likely that this group will not mobilize any more Jew-haters than any other Facebook page devoted to hating Israel (do a search for the words “hate” and “Israel” and see all the dreck that shows up). However, to allow a group which so blatantly violates Facebook’s own terms of service to stay up on the site shows that Facebook 1) can’t keep up with all of the hate groups that get created in order to take them down, 2) doesn’t care how many hate groups are created on the site, or 3) is actually afraid Muslims will boycott it forever. One is a possibility, though one would think they would be more responsive to reports of terms violations rather than refusing to take the group’s page down as they have done. Two and three are just pathetic.
I reported the group as inciting violence (since that’s exactly what an intifada is) before I read that Facebook has refused to take down the group’s page. After reading that, I contacted Facebook through their “Suggestions” contact page with the following message:
Bottom line: This group violates your own terms of service by promoting hateful, threatening messages and inciting violence against a specific group. The Second Intifada resulted in the deaths of over 1100 Israelis, 64 foreigners, and thousands of Arabs. If Facebook is concerned that it will be subject to worldwide Muslim boycott, it should think again. Most Muslims ignore such boycotts (they are practical people who enjoy modern technology as much as anyone else) and Facebook’s own cred as a hate-free site is seriously jeopardized by allowing such groups to flourish on its site. If you believe in unfettered free speech, then remove the anti-hate and incitement terms from your terms of service. If you say you won’t allow hateful groups to form on your site, then back it up with action.
I invite Facebook to put its money where its mouth is. If you’re a Facebook user, I invite you to contact them, too.