In the ‘Instafada’, Hamas can sit back and let Facebook do its work
PALESTINIAN, AND indeed Arab social media is awash with images of Palestinian attackers who have been shot after attempting murder. What is missing from the videos is footage of the attacks they had carried out seconds before being shot.
Indeed, there is no mention of any attacks. The impression being given is of an out-of-control IDF, cold-bloodedly killing unarmed Palestinians.
Multiple videos, cartoons, and graphics on Facebook and YouTube, some carried by the official Hamas and PA websites, give instructions on how best to stab Jews to cause maximum damage, and advise on the best knives to use.
These videos and graphics are widely shared, encouraging more young Palestinians to either make their own versions, or even set out to kill.
In what some in the media have dubbed the “Instafada”, a lie becomes a social media conspiracy. The conspiracy becomes “fact”. The fact feeds the violence, and round we go again.
It seems likely that most of the recent “lone wolf” attackers really are acting alone. But just as Hamas and others train, and then dispatch,
Al Aqsa: used by Abbas to incite hate young men to attempt murder and be killed, now bloggers, graphic artists, tweeters, and amateur film-makers do the same. Some of the videos are clearly made by groups of people as they feature up to 10 actors playing the roles of Palestinian attackers and Jewish victims.
In all this incitement, the perpetrators are aided and abetted by Hamas, which openly encourages this “e-intifada”, and by the PA and the Palestinian mainstream media, which knowingly repeat falsehoods and make no effort to counter the images pouring from a million computers.
The increasingly irrelevant President Mahmoud Abbas is not helping. He inflamed the situation early on by declaring that Jews should never defile the Al Aqsa mosque complex with their “dirty feet”, and followed up this stark racism by telling the Palestinians that the Israelis had “executed” Ahmad Mansara. He failed to mention he had stabbed a Jew. The following day, Israeli media showed the 13-year-old boy being treated in an Israeli hospital.
What can Israel do to respond? Its cyber security officials are already working with the latest key word search technology, hoping to spot potential “lone wolves”. The government is making repeated requests to YouTube and Facebook asking them to take down content containing “hateful and racist” material and the two companies are responding positively. However, these are coming from so many sources that as one is taken down, several more appear.
The government must also act against the increasing incitement by Israeli Jews on social media platforms, especially that emanating from the “price tag” movement in the West Bank. Each one of these memes that goes viral adds to the climate of hate, and gives ammunition to those who seek to pretend there is a moral equivalence in the actions car
ried out. Tim Marshall is a foreign affairs analyst and founder of www. thewhatandthewhy.