The Third Intifada Is Alive and Well on Facebook
As reported on March 29 at the PJ Tatler by Pajamas Media editor Bryan Preston, Facebook has finally removed the “Third Palestinian Intifada” page -- after weeks of users flagging it amid reports that its contents violated Facebook’s terms of service by calling for violent action against Israel and openly promoting racism. The many reports and complaints fell on unsympathetic ears; it was not until pressure had mounted over a period of weeks, including a formal complaint by the Anti-Defamation League and criticism from the Israeli government, that Facebook finally took action. The page had accumulated more than 300,000 devotees, who had been advocating violence against Israel from the beginning. But according to Facebook’s revised position,
We don’t typically take down content that speaks out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas. However, we monitor pages that are reported to us and when they degrade to direct calls for violence or expressions of hate -- as occurred in this case -- we have and will continue to take them down.
The removal of the page has been hailed as a victory by pro-Israel groups and activists. But, for a number of reasons, it is a hollow victory.
First, the primary goal of the group was to promote an uprising against Israel, scheduled to begin on May 15, 2011. It accomplished this task, and may have even been aided by the media attention that was generated by outrage over the page and the attempt to pressure Facebook to remove it.
Next, the page was designed to create a network of anti-Israeli activists among Facebook’s half-billion users -- to organize them by directing them to certain websites and by collecting their names, along with email addresses and perhaps other information, enabling this network to survive even after the page was removed. Again, it had achieved this goal by the time Facebook got around to removing it.
But perhaps the most significant reason pro-Israeli activists should not consider the page’s removal a victory is the fact that it has accomplished one other goal: inspiring copycats.
Like the Hydra, new heads have already sprung into existence to replace the one that has been lopped off by Facebook. In fact, there are now several pages devoted to a new Intifada, in a variety of languages, and one of them boasts 3,292,265 fans at the time of this writing -- roughly 10 times the number of the original.
The group at http://www.facebook.com/Rassoul.Allaah is in Arabic, and is listed as a non-profit organization. It sports the same graphical emblem of the original “Third Palestinian Intifada” page, and has many hundreds (perhaps thousands) of posted photos. It provides a link to direct users to a rudimentary Joomla website, which appears to have been created in 2006, and purports to show a "Real Picture of Mohammed" through a series of commentaries. On the Facebook landing page the visitor is greeted by name, and presented with links to other Facebook groups that also support a new Intifada against Israel:
There are 7,102 people that like https://www.facebook.com/maseera2011, which states that “after the success of revolutions of Egypt and Tunisia” the Arab nations surrounding Israel should help the Palestinian “refugees” impose their “right of return” on May 15, 2011.
This page in turn links to https://www.facebook.com/palatora. Some 5,776 people like this page, which declares its purpose (in Arabic) as “returning to our land and our right to our home.” Its beneficiaries “will not go back to where we were all costs of blood or money.” Among the page’s fans is “Felesteeny Moslim,” who had this to say [sic]:
I am Begging everyone who is a truely muslim and likes his Holy Land Palestine to work on fighting against the JEWS and ZIONISTS thruogh Internet.. whatever skills you have make JIHAD on Internet and Facebook against the enemies of Humankind and Enemies of Muslim People...They stared the war by stealing Our Land Palestine and now depriving us from the least rights to express our thoughts and Ideas..Be a truely Muslim and Be the Internet Fighter for Islam and the Holy Land Palestine...
It also links to this page, https://www.facebook.com/MarchToPalestine, which boasts 8,069 fans. It proclaims that “our dream" to "return to historic Palestine has been achieved. It is time our appointment on Sunday 05.15.2011 anniversary [sic] Sixty-three years of displacement of the Palestinian people.”
Posted on these pages are links to still more groups devoted to a new Intifada, such as this one with 101,456 likes, or this one with 387 fans, this one with 145 fans, this one with 55 fans (and a lovely anti-Semitic cartoon), this page with 193 fans, this page with 203 "likes," and this one with 1,581 and counting.
The significance of May 15 as the date for this uprising could not be any clearer. It is the day following the anniversary of Israel’s independence, a day known to the Palestinians (and throughout the Arab world) as “Yawm an-Nakbah,” which translates as "Day of the Catastrophe.” On May 15, 2011, the Palestinians seek to visit a catastrophe of their own making upon the Jewish state, and they are organizing it, among other means, through social media sites like Facebook.
As we’ve witnessed during the post-election "Green revolution” in Iran, the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, and the current uprisings in Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and other Arab states, eliminating access to social media will not quell the unrest. Once networks are forged, they are very difficult to disrupt. The gratification felt by Israel’s supporters over Facebook’s eleventh-hour removal of a single page devoted to a third Intifada is sorely misplaced, and the danger it represents has not been nullified, or even effectively dispersed. The damage has already been done, and the anti-Israeli network forged on Facebook will continue to grow in the coming weeks, months, and years.