The Palestine Information Center (PIC), an independent Palestinian news website and network had their Facebook page temporarily suspended for publishing a 2009 cartoon by Brazilian political cartoonist Carlos Latuff. The graphic shows a woman walking and carrying a wounded child in front of an Israeli flag with one of the blue banners of the flag covering her mouth. Latuff’s text issued a warning: “SHHHHHHHHHH!!! Denouncing Israeli War Crimes Is Anti-Semitism“.
This is not a far flung radical concept since criticism of Israel and/or issues relating to the U.S. relationship to Israel, including criticism or mention of the Israel lobby are continually lambasted as anti-Semitic. The examples are endless, even President Obama was accused of anti Semitism.
Recalling the war crimes committed during those gruesome 22 days in the winter of 2008-2009, when Israel pummeled the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,300 people, including over 300 children — articulated in the Goldstone Report (pdf) released in September 2009 — I asked Latuff if there was a specific incident that prompted him to draw the cartoon in 2009. “Nope, not a specific incident, just to highlight the censorship often found on Internet related to everything critical to Israel”.
Accusations of anti Semitism are, arguably, the very first line of defense by Israel’s ardent defenders. But draw or publish a cartoon about it? Censored on Facebook:
— Palestine Info Centr (@palinfoen) January 11, 2016
The only vulgarity about this cartoon is the truth it helps expose. Responding to the news Facebook had removed his cartoon Latuff tweeted “This censorship proves EXACTLY the point of cartoon“. How ironic.
Rami Salaam, an administrator of PIC’s English Facebook page told Mondoweiss “Cartoons are usually targeted by Facebook more than anything else. Maybe because they appeal to people everywhere. Latuff’s cartoons are widely shared on our page and maybe that is why it was removed.”
PIC was not warned or notified prior to the removal of the cartoon. “It just disappeared” according to Salaam. He continued, “When we tried to login we got a message saying that that cartoon was removed because it violates Facebook polices and that our account that posted the cartoon is suspended for 3 days. – The reason for the deletion and suspension is fickle and meaningless because the cartoon is not graphic nor does it incite any kind of violence. The reason given is “We removed the post below because it doesn’t follow the Facebook Community Standards.” They also threatened to delete the whole page.”
I asked Salaam if this was an isolated incident and he mentioned PIC was suspended for a day two weeks ago for posting this photograph of “an Orthodox Jew and his daughter both carrying guns.” He sent me this screenshot:
“We were also suspended and got a couple of videos removed over a month ago. The new thing we have noticed is that pictures/videos can now be removed by Facebook even if they follow the so called community standards. This is scary because soon we will not be able to post anything, it seems. So yes we do believe Facebook’s pro-Israel policy is tightening the noose around our freedom of speech.”
Facebook Community Standards can be viewed here.
During her trip to the U.S. in November 2015, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely met with representatives of YouTube and Google to discuss ways her ministry could “cooperate” against “inflammatory material” she claimed was inciting violence and terror attacks. Curiously, recently I searched for current videos of Israeli violence against Palestinians on both Google and Youtube and the only videos readily available dated back to last October, nothing current. Strange.