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Facebook warned against making Zionism protected category

Bianca Rahimi
Press TV, London

Activists and human rights organizations like the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign are raising the alarm amid fears that Facebook will make Zionism a de facto protected category. Already, an army of trolls and numerous algorithms are busy removing pro-Palestinian posts on Facebook. This is all part of a stealthy campaign launched to stamp out criticism of Israel by defining it as hate speech.

Zionism is a political ideology, but Facebook might give it the same protection as race, nationality and sexuality. Hundreds of millions across the globe define Israel’s Zionist regime as the last apartheid on earth – it is a very sore historical subject, and Zionism lies at the heart of the discourse surrounding it.

The Palestinians live in an open-air prison. Illegal settlement expansions continue, and Israeli soldiers and settlers attack Palestinians with impunity.

But that is the direction Facebook is heading. On former director-general of Israel’s Justice Ministry Emi Palmor's cyber-unit's watch, censorship of Palestinian social media posts increased 500 percent, and Facebook complied with around 95 percent of Tel-Aviv's requests to delete Palestinian accounts.

In 2020, Facebook hired Palmor as the first member of its Oversight Board tasked with ruling on content ethics. Since then, pages focusing on Israeli violations against Palestinians and the Arab normalization deals signed with Israel have recorded an "intentional decrease" of 50 percent of user-reach.

Pressure is mounting on Facebook to adopt a controversial definition of anti-Semitism drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which literally defines and outlaws criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. Scholars specializing in antisemitism, Jewish and Holocaust history, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have written to Facebook about the dangers of doing so; however ultimately, it is Facebook's 2.7 billion users that hold the power.

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