Israeli nonprofit to sue Facebook as 'accessory to terror'

by Tobin Perry |

(REUTERS/Stephen Lam)Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage during a town hall at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California September 27, 2015.

NEW YORK CITY (Christian Examiner)—An Israeli advocacy group announced plans on Thursday to initiate a class-action suit in a U.S. court against Facebook for allegedly being an "accessory to terror," according to Israelnationalnews.com. The lawsuit comes after numerous Facebook pages and posts have been published on the social media site with instructions on how to carry out terrorist acts against Israelis.

"Facebook has the means to research and monitor every word that appears on its website," the Israeli advocacy group, Shurat HaDin, said in a press release. "It cannot be that entire pages on Facebook are devoted to incitement to murder Jews and that terrorists are permitted to publish posts that become popular among their friends and encourage them to kill. It is absurd that Facebook is being transformed into a tool for supporting incitement and attacks against Jews, and we intend to put an end to it."

According to Israelnationalnews.com, Shurat HaDin is encouraging Israelis to send in examples of Facebook's incitement in order to be included in the class-action suit. The organization is also asking U.S. courts for an injunction that will force Facebook to take down pages that incite terrorism and incorporate tougher standards to keep similar content off its social network in the future.

The lawsuit comes on the same day the Israeli government officially asked Facebook and YouTube to take down videos that encourage Palestinian violence against Israelis in the past week.

"The videos depict recent terror attacks, praise the assailants and present Jews and Israelis in a hateful and racist manner, and since their publishing, three more attacks have taken place so far," said a letter from the Israeli government to the social media websites, according to an article by Channel NewsAsia.

A recent upswing in violence in Israel began nearly two weeks ago when two Israelis were stabbed to death by a Palestinian in the Old City. That attack was followed by a series of stabbing and other attacks, leading some to speculate about a third Palestinian intifada or uprising, according to CNN. Since last month's Jewish New Year, the USA Today reports, eight Israelis have died and 31 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers.

Because of the impact of the social media posts upon the increased violence, a USA Today article labeled the current crisis a "Facebook intifada" and compared the social media activity to the "Arab Spring" of 2011.

"Like the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011 and the recruitment success of the Islamic State, the spreading violence against Israelis in recent weeks seems to have been sparked by spontaneous combustion on Twitter and Facebook, rather than by organized political groups," wrote Shira Rubin for the USA Today. "Social media have been crucial in mobilizing Palestinians for protests, disseminating information and feeding outrage against Israel."

As an example, the USA Today pointed to a viral video taken on a smartphone Monday that shows 13-year-old Ahmad Manasra with his leg twisted and blood running from his head while an Israeli curses at him. Israeli police had "neutralized" Ahmad after he and his 15-year-old cousin stabbed a 13-year-old Jewish boy.

Israelis can join the Shurat HaDin lawsuit, which will be handled by a New York law firm, for free by signing an online petition.

"At the time that Facebook suffices with words and tells us that it intends 'to remove inciting pages' – the website is filling up more and more each moment with severe incitement and it is our task to do everything to stop this," says the Shurat HaDin press release.