20,000 Israelis suing Facebook over online Palestinian incitement
Lead plaintiff suing Facebook succumbs to wounds; Israeli Arab, Jewish terror suspects indicted for attacks
Around 20,000 Israelis have filed a lawsuit against Facebook in New York accusing the social media giant of disregarding incitement and calls to murder Jews being posted by Palestinians.
The civil complaint was filed late on Sunday and was announced on Monday. It asks for an injunction to require Facebook to block all racist incitement and calls for violence against Jews in Israel, but no damages.
According to a press release issued by the plaintiffs, many recent Palestinian assailants “were motivated to commit their heinous crimes by incitement to murder they read on Facebook — demagogues and leaders exhorting their followers to ‘slaughter the Jews,’ and offering instruction as to the best manner to do so, including even anatomical charts showing the best places to stab a human being.”
“Facebook’s refusal to remove the flood of extremist videos, statements and cartoons being posted by Palestinians is encouraging imminent violence and fanning the flames of the terrorist attacks that have overwhelmed Israel in the past month,” the plaintiffs contended.
The lead plaintiff, Israeli-American Richard Lankin, 76, who was critically injured in a recent terror attack in Jerusalem succumbed to his wounds Tuesday morning.
Lankin, along with the other plaintiff's allege that social media, particularly postings by Palestinians on Facebook, “is spurring on the terrorist attacks against Israelis in the past month.”
The complaint says the plaintiffs “have been living in the crosshairs of a murderous terrorist rampage carried out by killers who attack people with knives, axes, screwdrivers, cars and Molotov cocktails for no reason other than that the attacker perceives the victims to be Jewish.”
“Many of these murderers were motivated to commit their heinous crimes by incitement to murder they read on Facebook – demagogues and leaders exhorting their followers to ‘slaughter the Jews,’ and offering instruction as to the best manner to do so, including even “anatomical charts showing the best places to stab a human being.”
Facebook, the plaintiffs argue, " is far from a neutral or passive social media platform and cannot claim it is a mere bulletin board for other parties’ postings," as it "utilizes sophisticated algorithms to serve personalized ads, monitor users’ activities and connect them to potential friends" and claims that it "has the ability to monitor and block postings by extremists and terrorists urging violence just as it restricts pornography."
"While everyone understands the need to keep the web free, Facebook’s decision to allow this flood of terrorist incitement and calls to murder Jews to continue has crossed all red lines,” says attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner." Facebook is fanning the flames of the current Palestinian intifada and its refusals to actively monitor and block the incitement to violence is an outrageous abandonment of its obligations to the public."
Israel's government meanwhile is developing a smart phone application which aims to allow anyone witnessing a terror attack to immediately notify security forces, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.
Israeli Arab, Jewish terror suspects indicted for recent attacks
Meanwhile, Israel's Southern District Attorney on Monday indicted an Israeli Arab for his role in a terror attack last week at the central bus station of southern Israel's largest city, Beersheba.
Umar al-Okbi's brother, Muhanad, carried out the attack in Beersheba that left one Israeli soldier dead and 11 others injured. Muhanad was killed in a shootout with police after holing up in a bathroom. Another man, an Eritrean asylum seeker, was shot and then kicked by agitated bystanders who also believed he was a Palestinian assailant. He later succumbed to his wounds.
Umar, a Bedouin who has no criminal background, is accused of weapons offenses and failing to prevent a crime.
According to local media reports, he allegedly knew that his brother had access to a gun and purchased a knife and had recently made various statements against Jews.
The district attorney charged that Umar did not take reasonable steps to prevent his brother from possessing the gun.
The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court released al-Okbi to house arrest until December 17.
Also on Monday, the Southern District Attorney charged a Jewish youth for an attack on four Arabs in the southern town of Dimona that took place on October 9.
The Jewish youth was charged on four counts, including attempted murder, serious acts of sabotage and aggravated battery.
When questioned immediately after the attack, the suspect said he had stabbed the four because they were Arabs, and claimed that “all Arabs are terrorists.”
The teen’s lawyer, a well-known far-right activist, said his client suffers from mental health issues and was under the influence of drugs during the attack.
However, a court-ordered psychiatric exam found that he was fit to stand trial.
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