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Facebook hires longtime Netanyahu adviser

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Jordana Cutler, who is currently the Chief of Staff at the Israeli embassy in Washington DC, and a longtime adviser to Netanyahu, has been named as head of policy and communications at Facebook’s Israel office.

The appointment comes amidst growing Israeli government frenzy concerning incitement allegations and BDS, the global non-violent movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, whose often viral presence online exposes Israeli human rights violations. Also, since October 2015 violence has surged between Palestinians and Israelis, chiefly by knife attacks. Often, these attacks, or Israel’s disproportionate response, would be captured on video, and widely shared on Facebook.

Since then, Israel and the social network have been cozying up to each other following repeated demands and lobbying by Israeli government officials. In October 2015, Simon Milner, Facebook Policy Director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, attended the Knesset “Caucus Against Violent and Inciting Dialogue in Social Media,” chaired by MK Revital Swid, a member of the Zionist Union. Following the conference, in a letter to Milner, Swid requested that “Facebook, Inc. should immediately locate, monitor and remove pages that spew incitement and encourage murder,” insisting that “Facebook cannot detach itself from the terrorism being enabled through its network,” and called for hiring a representative in Israel to address these issues, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Milner’s response simply restated Facebook policies, and did not indicate a likely new hire at Facebook’s Israel office. Nonetheless, Facebook Israel general manager, Adi Soffer Teeni initiated the search the following month.

Forward to February 2016. Milner visited Israel to discuss plans by Gilad Erdan, Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information (Likud), to hold the social network accountable through introducing a legislative mechanism. Erdan doubled down on Swid’s demands: “If Facebook does not [cooperate], he intends to collaborate with other countries and enact a series of laws that will place responsibility for the resulting attacks squarely on Facebook’s shoulders,” Al-Monitor reported.

Surrounded by this ongoing saga, Cutler’s role remains unclear. But, we can expect that “policy and communications” for Facebook are likely to be just one aspect of her position. In fact, the social network is already a client of Shalom Tel Aviv, a communications consultancy firm, which provides “comprehensive communications management targeted to meet our clients’ business and organizational needs and objectives,” according to the firm’s website. More likely is that Cutler’s position as a diplomatic government official suggests that her role will be to bring Facebook and the Israeli government closer, in a fashion not necessarily so different from Erdan’s.

The likely target? BDS. This past Thursday, during a conference held at the Institute for Policy and Strategy of IDC Herzliya, Erdan announced in the opening remarks of a session titled “Combatting Boycott Initiatives Against Israel” that he “set up a legal team, together with the Ministry of Justice, that will promote governmental legislation on the matter,” and that “there will now be real price to pay for someone working against their own country in order to isolate it from the rest of the world,” he added.

Facebook did not escape the Minister’s remarks. Erdan welcomed the appointment of Cutler, recognizing that it’s a sign of “an advance in dialogue between the State of Israel and Facebook,” while ardently maintaining that “Facebook realizes that it has a responsibility to monitor its platform and remove content. I hope it will be regulated for good. If not – they will face legislation, and not only in Israel…anyone who harms the State of Israel must understand that there will be consequences.”

BDS has gained substantial attention from the Israeli government, not least because of a string of recent successes, including 100+ such victories in the U.S. alone, at being endorsed by a variety of large and influential associations, unions, and businesses, as well as academic, religious, and cultural institutions and figures around the world. The Israeli government has responded with a variety of measures, including threatening the lives of BDS proponents, the allocation of NIS 100 million to Erdan’s ministry budget, imposing travel bans on BDS advocates, rallying against the movement on world stages, and lobbying for legislative measures against the movement around the world.

Hiring Cutler is yet another attempt at stemming an inevitable wave of change, simply because social networks are neither a cause of BDS’ success nor Israel’s concerns. It’s more than “48 years of military occupation,” and counting.

Dorgham Abusalim

Dorgham Abusalim recently graduated with a Master in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland. You can follow him on Twitter @dabusalim.

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10 Responses

  1. Jan on June 20, 2016, 2:11 pm

    Right now I am on my fourth blocking from FB. The first came back in 2014 when a commenter named Rachel Kimmel falsely claimed that I had been badly abused by my father. She wrote that I had written and published extensively about that abuse. I replied, “You are a liar.” I was blocked for three days because of that comment.

    On another occasion a commenter said that that on Yom Kippur I should be inscribed in the Book of Death. When I replied that I wished the same for him and that it should be painful, I was blocked for 30 days. My comment came only after I received many insults from him including the usual “self-hating Jew” and “kapo,

    My next blocking came in regard to the 12 year old Palestinian girl who had been jailed for having a knife. A commenter wrote that she tried to kill a Jew and should never have been let out of prison. My reply that whatever she did wasn’t because her target was a Jew but because he was an occupier led to another 30 day ban.

    I am now on another 30 day block for daring to suggest that when it came to destroying homes after a terrorist attack, Jews should be treated like Palestinians.

    On each occasion I was informed that my comment violated community standards.

    The hypocrisy of FB was shown to me when I reported someone who said that Obama should be burned to death on a stack of Qurans. I was informed that this statement did not violate community standards.

    It is more than obvious that FB wants to shut down criticism of Israel and this article more than proves it.

    • annie on June 20, 2016, 2:46 pm

      My reply that whatever she did wasn’t because her target was a Jew but because he was an occupier led to another 30 day ban.

      this is fobidden at facebook. the very idea palestinians resist because of the occupation and not some inherent hatred towards jews can get you silenced:

      • Jan on June 20, 2016, 7:24 pm

        That comment is almost exactly like the comment that got me blocked for 30 days. I wasn’t quite as descriptive since I didn’t want to get blocked once again. A lot of good that did me.

        Facebook just doesn’t want any comments that reflect the truth about Israel.

        I tried to get in touch with FB this morning to talk to someone about their community standards. There is no number at their Menlo Park headquarters that would allow someone to talk to a live person.

        I found a number that someone had put in the internet which turned out to be in India. The man wanted my name and email address which I was not about to give to him. Waiting for the rest of the 30 days to be up so I can comment even though I am sure that the comments don’t change many minds.

      • annie on June 20, 2016, 11:56 pm

        i recall when dkos went through the purging of supporters for palestine phase. not sure what it’s like there anymore as i rarely visit. and i’ve never joined or posted on FB.

        Waiting for the rest of the 30 days to be up so I can comment even though I am sure that the comments don’t change many minds.

        you’re welcome to post here jan.

    • JWalters on June 20, 2016, 9:30 pm

      Thanks for that information. I’m guessing Facebook is also spying for Israel. Perhaps some major Zionist money invested in Facebook.

  2. a blah chick on June 20, 2016, 2:38 pm

    “…social networks are neither a cause of BDS’ success nor Israel’s concerns. It’s more than “48 years of military occupation…”

    The first intifada happened without social media, something Israel and its supporters have forgotten.

  3. amigo on June 20, 2016, 4:01 pm

    ” I hope it will be regulated for good.

    So Facebook will have to focus on all the wonderful achievements the rogue entity has given the world .Don,t forget the cherry tomatoes .

    “If not – they will face legislation, and not only in Israel…anyone who harms the State of Israel must understand that there will be consequences.”

    Good.It will;l be fun watching the whole goi leadership facing consequences.

    What amazes me about zios , is they think they can silence most of the rest of this planet.7 or 8 million nutcases are going to shut up 6+ billion “others”.

    Collective insanity.

  4. Rusty Pipes on June 20, 2016, 7:33 pm

    Another reminder that I spend too much time on facebook — mostly weeding through junk from acquaintances. Facebook doesn’t provide precise enough tools to show me the kind of information I care about getting from my friends and family, so that my time is not consumed with the minor details of their lives.

    • Bumblebye on June 20, 2016, 8:01 pm

      I found that too – until I realised I could “friend” or “like” but didn’t have to “follow”. Now just immediate family, couple of friends and Mondoweiss show up on my “newsfeed”, the rest I look up as and when. Your friend list will show who has new posts and how many. If someone specifically wants you to see something they’ll “tag” you so it will go to your newsfeed.

  5. J.G. Sandom on September 13, 2016, 7:05 am

    There are alternatives. MemoryBox is the only app that lets everyone at the same event take pics, using multiple devices, and they all post back to one centralized location safe and sound in the cloud automatically. If you’re mounting a political action, taking pics, and are concerned the IDF will take or destroy your phone, think MemoryBox. MemoryBox does not remove anti-Zionist posts.

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