Israel’s justice minister: 70 percent of harmful content being removed from social media

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in Budapest that Facebook, Twitter and Google are removing some 70 percent of harmful content from social media in Israel.

“A joining of forces by justice ministers from all over the world against incitement and our joint work vis-a-vis the internet companies will lead to change,” Shaked said Monday at the opening of a conference in Hungary on combating incitement and anti-Semitism on the internet.

Shaked and Hungarian Justice Minister Laszlo Trocsanyi opened the conference.

Shaked, who is leading a five-member Israeli delegation to Budapest, said in her opening remarks that “it is important to respect freedom of speech, but it is also important that, contrary to the American absolutist view, hate speech must be put under control and punished.”

Another member of the Israeli delegation, Haim Wismonsky of the Israeli Prosecutor’s office, spoke about measures Israel is taking to curb hate speech.

Nimrod Kozlovski, an Israeli specialist on hate speech on the internet, criticized legal systems in general, saying that “laws against hate speech are very limited” and the legal system in this respect is not effective enough.

“Technology is the best tool against hate crimes, and technology can help not just the terrorist, but also against terror,” Kozlovski said at the conference.


Kerry stresses ending incitement in call with Abbas

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stressed the need to end incitement.

“They discussed concerns about the ‎situation on the ground, including the ongoing violence,” a State Department spokeswoman told JTA, describing the conversation this weekend. “The secretary stressed the importance of stopping incitement and inflammatory rhetoric.”

Israeli leaders have faulted what they say are inflammatory statements by Palestinian leaders and in Palestinian media for a four-month spate of stabbings, vehicle attacks and shootings.

Abbas and other Palestinian officials say they are urging restraint and have accused Israel of overreacting.

Kerry praised Abbas for a Jan. 19 speech marking the Armenian Orthodox Christmas, in which the Palestinian leader condemned “spilling the blood of any human being, regardless of the gender, race or religion.”

Kerry “expressed appreciation for President Abbas’ comments in Bethlehem in which he reiterated his commitment to nonviolence,” the spokeswoman said.

Israel seizes shipment of plush rock-throwing dolls

Officials at the Haifa port seized a shipment of thousands of plush dolls with raised hands holding toy rocks.

The shipment, from the United Arab Emirates, was on its way to the Palestinian Authority, according to the Times of Israel. The shipment’s paperwork said it was carrying clothing, rugs and plastic products.

The dolls are clad in keffiyehs, and they’re wearing scarves with the Palestinian colors, a picture of the Dome of the Rock, and the words “Jerusalem is ours” and “Jerusalem, we are coming.”

Port officials believe the dolls are part of a campaign to incite to violence and are conducting an investigation into the shipment.

“The customs authority continues its daily work in preventing smuggling, with a focus on smuggling weapons and preventing the infiltration of inciting material, especially at this time,” said Kobi Yahav, the director of customs at Haifa port, according to the Times of Israel.

Is Abbas responsible for inciting the terror in Israel?

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of tampering with the status quo on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. He railed against Jews defiling the holy site with their “filthy feet.” He claimed, falsely, that Israeli security forces had killed a 13-year old Palestinian boy.

It’s that sort of rhetoric that has led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to charge Abbas with inciting the wave of stabbing attacks by Palestinians that has swept Israel over the past month.

But some Palestinian and Israeli experts say Abbas does not support violence and has little power to influence the attacks. They note his long history of supporting nonviolent resistance, reiterated as recently as September in a speech to the United Nations, and the continued cooperation of Palestinian security forces with their Israeli counterparts.

And though his rhetoric may be harsh, these experts say, Abbas has so little influence among his constituents that his statements have scant effect.

“Abbas couldn’t even incite a rabid dog,” said Mouin Rabbani, a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies think tank. “It’s not just him as a leader having no authority and influence, it’s the whole political class. The people who have been demonstrating, carrying out these spasms, have been acting on a completely unorganized basis.”

Last month, Israel released a compilation of recent statements and social media posts from Abbas’ Fatah faction that the government says amounts to incitement to violence. Examples showed caricatures of Jews being stabbed and punched.

“These Palestinian kids were indoctrinated on a daily basis in schools, in kindergarten even, in children’s magazines published by the Palestinian Authority, by Palestinian TV,” said Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, at a media briefing last month, referring to Palestinian children who had engaged in acts of violence aimed at Israelis. “There is no other explanation.”

Speaking to the United Nations in September, Abbas accused Israel of threatening Palestinian religious rights at the Temple Mount, a charge Israel vehemently denies. Earlier in the month, in an interview on Palestinian television, Abbas said: “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem.” Speaking about the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, he said Israelis “have no right to dirty it with their filthy feet.”

In October, Abbas falsely claimed in a speech that Israeli forces killed a 13-year-old Palestinian who had attempted a stabbing. In fact, the boy was recovering in an Israeli hospital.

This kind of language, says Eran Lerman, a former deputy chief of Israel’s National Security Council, is endemic to the Palestinian leadership.

“In the Palestinian domestic arena, the more virulent you are, the more influential you’re likely to be,” said Lerman, a fellow at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He said attackers “continue to draw encouragement from a climate of incitement, and in this respect there’s no question that the P.A.’s behavior is a contributing factor.”

Abbas in particular has seen his influence decline. An October poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that nearly two-thirds of Palestinians want him to resign. The same poll found a majority of Palestinians calling the P.A. a “burden on the Palestinian people” and two-thirds accusing it of insufficient action against “settlers’ terrorism.” A majority of Palestinians support a return to an armed intifada.

“He said some pretty bad things in his recent speech. He shouldn’t have said some of the things he said,” said Gershon Baskin, founder of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information, a joint Israeli-Palestinian think tank, referring to Abbas’ U.N. address.

“But he’s talking to his home audience,” Baskin added. “Now he’s facing a situation where he has little legitimacy on the ground. Most people think he should pack up and go. He’s holding onto whatever legitimacy he can gather.”

But even if Abbas were to take a more dovish tack, says Elias Zananiri, deputy chairman of the PLO Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society, there’s little he could do to stop the violence. The Palestinian Authority, Zananiri said, has little control over what have, in many cases, been lone wolf attacks by young men.

“It’s not an organized campaign against Israel,” he said. “It’s boys going to school, [and] on the way back from school they try to stab an Israeli. That’s a question that’s far beyond everybody, not just President Abbas.”

Israel silences Palestinian radio station over ‘incitement’

Israel’s military shut down a Palestinian radio station in the West Bank over its calls to attack Israelis.

The Hebron-based Al Hurria was raided late Monday night, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

“Forces confiscated broadcasting equipment in order to prevent the incitement which has caused a flare of violence in the region over recent weeks,” the IDF said in a statement issued early Tuesday morning,

There have been 29 attacks in Hebron on soldiers and civilians in the past month, including 22 stabbings, four car-rammings and three shootings, according to the IDF.

The radio station was founded in 2002 in Gaza by the ruling Fatah movement, and then transferred to Hebron after Hamas took over Gaza in 2007. It was been shut down previously in 2002 and 2008.

“Al Hurria radio station’s agenda encourages stabbing attacks, violent riots and reports false and malicious claims of security forces executing and kidnapping Palestinians in order to provoke violence,” the IDF said. “The station glorifies attacks against Israelis and congratulates the families of attackers who died while executing attacks.”

Israel slams Palestinian Authority incitement

This article originally appeared on The Media Line.

Jerusalem was quiet on Wednesday, a day after Palestinian attackers killed three Israelis and wounded more than 12 others. Police said that in the late afternoon, a young Palestinian attempted to stab an Israeli policeman near the Old City, and the attacker was shot and killed. The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported he was 14 years old. In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, another young Palestinian was killed in a clash with Israeli soldiers.

The Rami Levy supermarket chain, which has branches in the West Bank, and which employs both Jews and Palestinians, announced it would stop selling knives in its stores, according to the Israel National News website.

In Jerusalem, Israel deployed hundreds of extra police and sent army units to major cities to beef up forces. Israel also sealed off several Palestinian neighborhoods and police checked Palestinian ID’s throughout the city.

Israeli officials went on the offensive against the Palestinian Authority, accusing it of systematic incitement against Israel.

“What sends young people out with butcher knives to attack Israelis?” Dore Gold, Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry asked a news conference? “It emanates from incitement, particularly religious incitement. The incitement surrounds the false accusation that Israel seeks to change the status quo on the Temple Mount.”

Gold was referring to a Jerusalem site that Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. Palestinian attackers, who have killed seven Israelis this month, have been fueled by rumors that Israel wants to change the status quo at the site, which allows Jews to visit but not to pray there.

“We said and I am repeating it now in the name of the Israeli government and Prime Minister,” Minister for Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz told the news conference. “We are committed to the status quo on the Temple Mount. We are defending the holy sites of religions in Jerusalem.”

Steinitz said that the young Palestinian attackers, using knives, have been inspired by Islamic State’s beheadings in Syria and Iraq.

He charged that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is behind the current wave of incitement, quoting statements by Abbas in September saying “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem,” and “They (Israelis) have no right to desecrate the al-Aqsa mosque with their filthy feet.”

Steinitz says that statements like these can be directly connected to the violent attacks.

“We hear again and again the slogan, “Itbah al-yahud”, “Kill the Jews, knife the Jews, death to the Jews in the name of Allah, in the name of defending Islam, in the name of defending the al-Aqsa mosque,” he said. “This is not new. It’s just a new way of terrorism and violence and this time it’s totally clear that the main approach here is a religious approach – defending Islam against the enemy of the mosques, against the Jews.”

For their part, Palestinian officials have complaints against the way that Israel has handled the current wave of violence. Palestinian officials say that in several cases, Palestinian attackers were killed after they had already been subdued and when they no longer posed a threat.

“The occupation has spread a culture of hate and racism that justifies all kinds of atrocities, including collective punishment and cold-blooded executions,” Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement. “It’s the Israeli government that has made clear to the Palestinian people, both in actions and statements that they refuse to end their belligerent occupation and will do everything possible to erode the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”

Steinitz dismissed these claims as nonsense, and said that in some cases Palestinians have tried to attack a second time, even after they were lying on the ground.

Bill would link funding for Palestinians to incitement

A bill introduced by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee would link assistance to the Palestinian Authority to its efforts to stop incitement.

Under the bill presented Wednesday by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the president would have to determine that the Palestinian Authority “no longer engages in a pattern of incitement against the United States or Israel; and is engaged in peace preparation activities aimed at promoting peace with the Jewish State of Israel.” The president would have to re-certify compliance every six months.

“As Secretary of State John Kerry engages in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, Congress will make it clear to the Palestinian Authority that continuing anti-Israel incitement to violence through PA-controlled media outlets must cease,” Royce said in a statement.

The United States earmarks about $400 million annually to assistance for the Palestinians. Israel gets $3.1 billion annually, the vast majority in defense assistance.

StandWithUs Hosts Second Conference

When 14-year-olds Kobi Mandel and Yosef Ishran were found brutally stoned to death by Palestinian terrorists on May 9, 2001, Jews around the world mourned. For L.A. residents Roz and Jerry Rothstein, the tragedy was the last straw.

The husband and wife team gathered nearly 50 Jewish leaders from across the religious and political spectrum together in their living room on May 21, 2001, to discuss the mobilization of the Los Angeles Jewish community in support of Israel. The meeting marked the birth of the grass-roots pro-Israel organization StandWithUs.

“It’s not just about how this intifada affects Israel,” Roz Rothstein said. “It’s about how the intifada has affected Jews around the world.”

On May 4, StandWithUs will host “Can You Defend Israel?” a repeat of the popular Israel advocacy conference held last January at Temple Beth Am, which drew 325 participants from around the country (organizers were forced to turn away more than 100 people). The second conference, also to be held at Temple Beth Am, is expected to attract an equally sizable crowd.

“This is a how-to conference. This is not a briefing conference,” said Roz Rothstein, executive director of StandWithUs. “It’s how to write, how to deal with the media when you’re not happy, how to advocate. It’s the most sophisticated, most up-to-date information available.”

StandWithUs has become one of the most active pro-Israel groups in Los Angeles today. Its efforts include educating on all levels — monitoring media, helping to expose militant Islamic groups and leadership, improving public relations with Israel and promoting Christian-Jewish alliances. The conference is one step in the organization’s effort to give Los Angeles Jews a professional voice.

Sponsored by 13 additional Jewish organizations and six synagogues, the mission of the May 4 conference is to train people to be ambassadors for Israel.

Rothstein said that even though people might know the information, it is the ability to express that information that they are often lacking. “The other conferences are more informational. They give briefings,” Rothstein said.

Workshops at the conference will include practical tips on lobbying for Israel and dealing with the media, techniques in public speaking and history briefings.

“Our intention is to offer a full plate of politically oriented speakers. But we have an agenda to teach people to advocate for Israel — the most effectively and most efficiently,” Rothstein said. “We don’t want people to spin their wheels. We want people to be very sharp.”

Featured speakers will include radio talk show host Dennis Prager; Elliott Brandt, Western States director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee; public speaking expert Richard Greene; Dr. Roberta Seid, director of research and education for StandWithUs; Wayne Firestone, director of the Israel on Campus Coalition of Hillel: The Foundation For Jewish Campus Life, and professor and international affairs expert Jonathan Adelman.

The conference will also cater to college students, a segment of the population that has seen some of the fiercest of anti-Israel sentiment. Although it has been quieter on campus recently, Rothstein said that being prepared and proactive is as important now as ever.

“It’s a hidden agenda of the Muslim student associations across the country — the ‘free Palestine’ agenda and making Israel into the famed bad guy,” Rothstein said. “It’s still there … it’s just waiting right now.”

One of the main issues that will be addressed at the StandWithUs conference is incitement.

“Incitement was a word used in Oslo but it was an empty term,” Rothstein said. “Incitement from the cleric speeches must be monitored on the radio, TV programs need to teach peace, textbooks need to be revamped, the teachers need to teach peace, the posters of suicide bombers and making bombers into heroes needs to end.”

Rothstein said that a peaceful resolution is dependent upon incitement being broken down as an accountable issue in the road map language.

“We’re going to spell out incitement as an issue and hope that everyone will be able to lobby on this issue,” she said.

StandWithUs Advocacy Conference II will take place on
Sunday, May 4, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Register by phone at (310) 836-6145 or online at