The long-standing Facebook war of words between pro- and anti-Israel partisans has heated up a few degrees with a petition to remove a particularly offensive “F… Israel” page.
Originator of the removal drive is Michael Mendelson, a Miami resident, who said in a phone interview that his petition has already been endorsed by 75,000 “likes” in less than a week.
By contrast, the “F… Israel” drive, which is of long standing, claims only 36,000 “likes.” It features such sentiments as “God bless Adolf Hitler for what he did,” “Jews are children of apes and pigs…they are baby killers,” or just a simple “I hate Israel,” surmounted by a hand-draw flag with a Star of David.
However, even on their own page, Israel haters are outnumbered by Jewish defenders, most of who reply in kind.
Mendelson said he started his counter campaign “with the help of various pro-Israel groups” in the Miami area.
On the opposite coast, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and senior researcher Rick Eaton of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles have been monitoring anti-Semitic and anti-Israel websites and YouTube and Twitter postings for years.
There are at least two dozen such sites on Facebook alone, most of them started by Muslim groups, Eaton said, featuring logos like “Free Gaza” in the colors of the Palestinian flag, or an Israeli flag with a red circle and diagonal line superimposed on the State of David.
Facebook is also a popular site for hate tirades against Hindus, Mormons, Christians and Muslims, according to Cooper, who phoned from the Berlin airport on his way to Israel.
On the whole, Facebook has been responsive to requests for removal of obviously offensive material, according to Cooper, but in numerous instances such sites are reinstated if they clean up their act or they reappear under different names.
The “F… Israel” site aside, most veteran hate purveyors are pretty careful to police their sites, Eaton said, because “they know there are a lot of Jews watching and posting alternate comments” and also flagging offensive material.
Mendelson said he had been unable to reach Facebook managers, but estimated that his campaign would have to score ten times as many “likes” as the other side for Facebook to act on the removal petition.
Deborah Lauter, Civil Rights director for the Anti-Defamation League, urged people to complain to Facebook, not just about the “F… Israel” page itself, but also to flag and call Facebook’s attention to individual offensive comments and posts on the page.
In a related development, Reuters reported from Paris that a French court on Thursday ordered Twitter, Inc. to help identify the authors of anti-Semitic posts or face fines of $1,300 per day, as the social network firm comes under renewed pressure to combat racist and extremist messages.