In a tactical shift that probably could have been anticipated, supporters of a Facebook-based effort urging Palestinians to start an armed uprising against Israel have taken the fight directly to their opponents—the Facebook pages of pro-Israel groups.
On Thursday, April 14, StandWithUs, a pro-Israel education and advocacy group, found its Wall filled with postings calling for the destruction of Israel and the mass murder of Jews.
StandWithUs filed a complaint on Thursday with the FBI and quickly removed the messages. A representative from the group said that they came from 35 unique users, most of whom were based in Egypt.
By Friday afternoon, four additional identical messages had cropped up. Each one read, “new hetlar is comming from egypt to slave israel.” (Original spelling preserved.)
Accompanying this message was a photomontage that included what appeared to be Jewish prisoners standing in a concentration camp, a tangle of dead bodies lying in a mass grave and Adolf Hitler waving a Palestinian flag. Arcing across the image in red and green letters were the words, “Another Holocaust of Jews by Arabs.”
At the time of writing, that posting, like the others, had been removed.
A representative from StandWithUs said that some of the pro-Israel groups “Liked” by the group had also received similar messages on their openly accessible walls.
One posting found Friday afternoon on the wall of the “Israel Fans” page was written in Hebrew, English and Arabic. “We’re going to Jerusalem millions martyrs,” the poster wrote. “Waiting for us, the destruction of Israel begins 15 / 5.”
May 15 is commemorated by Palestinians as Nakba Day, or “Day of the Catastrophe.” It marks the day after May 14, the date in 1948 when Israel declared its independence.
This development comes just over two weeks after Facebook administrators removed a page calling for a “Third Palestinian Intifada” at the urging of groups including the Anti-Defamation League and at least one Israeli government minister. Dozens of similar pages immediately sprang up in its wake, but none have attracted nearly as many supporters as the first one, which had more than 340,000 supporters when it was taken down.
In an emailed statement, StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein called the postings an abuse of the internet’s freedom. “It is a shame that a medium for international communication that has so much promise is exploited by people who want to spread hate. It’s an effort to bully or intimidate Israel’s supporters, but it obviously will fail,” Rothstein said.