Tony Greenstein | 24 July 2015 | Post Views:

Imprisoned for racial incitement on Facebook? Only if you’re an Arab

Omar Shalabi, the secretary general of Fatah’s Jerusalem branch to nine months in prison for using his personal Facebook account to incite violence and support terrorism against Israeli civilians.

One of the most popular slogans of Israeli propaganda is the claim that ‘Israel
is the only democracy in the Middle East’. 
As the following article demonstrates, it is in fact an ethnocracy,
where one
group dominates another.  There
is a right to vote but it means nothing in terms of the right to equality of
treatment of Israeli Arabs

One of the most fundamental aspects of any society that claims to be a
democracy is equality in law.  Of course
in all capitalist societies the rich obtain an immunity that the poor don’t
have.  In England if you are on social
security and work at the same time you will be prosecuted and possibly be sent
to prison whereas if you are a banker and stole millions you are more likely to
be knighted.
There is also discrimination in terms of the law between Black and
White.  Black people are more likely to
be stopped by the Police and to be prosecuted in court and to receive heavier
sentences.  Nonetheless the system itself
recognises this and there have been concerted efforts to redress the injustices
that Black people face, from the Scarman to the MacPherson Inquiry.  Even Home Secretary Theresa May, who is no
liberal, recognises this.

Likewise working-class people face similar injustices as the Hillsborough
Inquiry has recently found. 

However in Israel there is absolutely no recognition even of the problem of discrimination
against Israeli Arabs.  On the contrary
there is a determination, by all of the Zionist parties (bar Meretz) to
continue the injustices and increase them. 
This is because Israel is a Jewish settler colonial state.
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the following article.  If you are an Arab and, even remotely,
advocate violence against Israeli Jews you will be prosecuted and spend time in
gaol.  On the other hand if you are Jewish
you will receive absolute immunity.  In other words despite the same laws for
example incitement to racial hatred applying equally to Arab and Jew it is
implemented only against infractions by members of one community.

That is why Israel is an Apartheid society and why BDS is so vital.

Tony Greenstein

Racist and inciting Facebook statuses by Israeli Jews have become
commonplace on the Internet. Yet not a single Israeli has ever been sent to
prison for publishing a status on social media.

By John Brown* and Noam Rotem –

Right-wing nationalists attacking left-wing activists during a protest in central Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. The protest ended with the nationalists attacking a small group of left-wing activists, with little police interference. Three activists were injured and one right-wing person was arrested. (Oren Ziv/

We do not live in a state where people are equal before the law. This is a
fact that shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Internet, on the other hand, has
maintained a kind of facade where freedom and equality are set in stone. But no
more. This week, 23-year-old Uday Biyumi from Jerusalem was sentenced to 17
months in prison for publishing Facebook posts “systematically and widely.”

The sentence is not something out of the ordinary. Sami Da’is received eight
months for his posts on social media; Omar Shalbi was sentenced to nine months;
and many others are still being held until the end of legal proceedings,
waiting for a decision on their case. All of them for publishing statuses on

Perhaps you have noticed that there is not a single Jewish person among
those arrested—this isn’t a coincidence. The following article will compare
some of these remarks to those made by Jews, who were never forced to spend
seven months in jail. Not a single Jewish citizen of Israel has ever been
sent to prison for publishing a status on social media.

These social media users are usually accused of the following clauses in
Israeli law: “incitement to racism,” “incitement to violence or terrorism,” and
sometimes “support for a terrorist organization.” The first clause is simple:
anyone who publishes remarks “for the purpose of inciting to racism,”
regardless of the probability that the remarks will lead to violence—is guilty.
According to the second clause, incitement to violence or terrorism—or praising
an act of violence or terror—is forbidden only if the content of the remarks
and the circumstances in which they were published include a a real possibility
to lead to an act of violence or terrorism. This requires finding out whether
anyone who read the status was inspired to commit an act of terrorism
or violence. As for the third clause, anyone who expresses support for a
terrorist organization is guilty.

Eight months for 14 ‘likes’
The court takes into account how much exposure these statuses receive when
determining the defendant’s sentence. Sometimes they have over 200 likes, other
times they are far less popular. Such is the case of Sami Da’is, who received
five likes for one of the status mentioned in his indictment, and nine likes in
another. He was sentenced to eight months in prison.

After Facebook user Arkadi Yakobov wrote, “there is no shame in burning an
Arab, it is a great mitzvah to burn Arabs,” armed men did not barge into his
house and detain him for several months. When Galit Elmaliach agreed and added
“may all the Muhammads burn, amen,” and when Hovav Yossi Mattuf swore that “the
next time they kidnap, I hope he is not unconscious and is burned alive and
made to run around burning” no one raised an eyebrow. Their lives went on
without any interference by the Israeli justice system.

Click here to view the original statuses
in Hebrew

When Ibrahim Abadin changed his profile photo to that of Mutaz Hijazi, the
Palestinian who attempted to assassinate far-right
Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick
in October of last year, it was enough
to be considered a crime.

Right-wing activist Yehuda Glick holding a book depicting the Jewish Temple while standing in front of the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, May 21, 2009. (Photo by Oren Ziv/

When Jews such as Mor Hajaj look forward to the day that the Knesset passes
a law to allow the massacre of “infiltrators,”
or when Avi Swissa and Etzion Shchori expressed
support for ISIS
—no one broke down their doors in an overnight raid. When
Naor Elmaliach and Leroy Kaufman expressed support for the Nazi regime, while
lamenting the fact that Adolf Hitler didn’t massacre more of their own
people—no one in the State Attorney’s Office or the police even considered
serving them with an indictment.

Sami Da’is, on the other hand, published the logo of the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine
in 2014—a political party that was
elected in the last Palestinian elections—as a status on his Facebook feed,
adding the words “The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.” This
received six likes, and was mentioned in his indictment.

Mahmoud Asila, who presents himself as a Palestinian comedian, wrote “I
opened a tourist agency for cars
that run people over
, meaning that every day a driver or two comes to me
before a vehicular attack and then come back.” He also wrote: “Leave us and
Al-Aqsa alone, and we will stop the vehicular attacks… we have a solution for
the concrete blocks you have erected: we will stop using cars and start using
motorcycles.” The honorable Judge Rivka Friedman-Feldman read out the
translation of his remarks, and agreed with the state that he could not be left
under house arrest because of the danger he posed. Instead he would
have to remain in prison until the end of his legal proceedings.

Right-wing protesters shouting slogans at Palestinians during riots that erupted following the finding of the bodies of three teenaged settlers near Halhul, West Jerusalem, July 1st, 2014. (Tali Mayer/
Screenshot of Mahmoud Asila’s Facebook page, with writing in Arab calling to
‘Run over people for the sake of Jerusalem.’ (photo credit:screenshot)

Shlomi Avraham, the leader of the “Al-Yahud Gang,” which sent an incited mob
to attack
people simply because they are not Jewish
, was sentenced to
house arrest and did not have to wait months in jail for a decision on his

It is impossible to describe how far this kind of incitement reaches. But
those who are interested can find support for military operations, such as the
racist celebration following
the killing of four boys on the Gaza
beach last summer, or a worker in the
Finance Ministry who calls for the murder of Arabs. Other users did not refrain
from expressing support for the Nazi regime when replying to a Holocaust
survivor who criticized Israel during Operation Protective Edge
. Even
soldiers didn’t refrain from taking part in the incitement to murder Arabs.
Neither did police officers.

Incitement from above
One may claim that because these are private individuals, there is a small
chance that their incitement will be translated into violence. But the
discrimination doesn’t end with them. At 10 a.m. on July 1, 2014, while gangs
of racist, right-wingers roamed the streets of Jerusalem looking to attack
Arabs, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, then an MK, published
a call to murder Palestinians
, specifically Arab mothers, because:

“They need to go the way of their sons. There is nothing more true than
that. They must go, same as the house in which they raised the snake. Otherwise
they will raise other little snakes there.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. (Photo by

The post received over 4,900 likes and more than 1,200 shares, as well as
many racist, murderous replies. Eighteen hours later, Muhammad
Abu-Khdeir was kidnapped from his neighborhood in East Jerusalem and burned
. Shaked quickly removed the status. She was never interrogated for
her blatant and extreme incitement, and less than a year later she was
appointed as Israel’s justice minister.

On the same day, the secretary-general of World Bnei Akiva (the largest
religious Zionist youth movement in the world) called for the murder of at
least 300 Palestinians, as well as to cut off their “Philistine foreskins.” A
few hours earlier, Jerusalem City Council member Aryeh King openly called to
commit an “act of Pinchass,” a religious code word for murder.

On July 10, 2014 Shaked once again used her Facebook page for incitement,
and lied about who was behind a fire that erupted at a Jewish cemetery. Like
the previous post, she received a great deal of racist, blood-thirsty replies.

This post was also later erased. Neither Shaked nor any those who replied to
her were even interrogated. Neither was King or the secretary-general of Bnei
Akiva. No one was indicted, convicted or jailed.

Not only on social media
The problem goes far beyond social media outlets. On July 23, 2012, MKs Miri
Regev (Israel’s current minister of culture and sport), Danny Danon, and Yariv
Levin incited against asylum seekers during a protest in south Tel Aviv. Standing
in front of the crowd, Regev
called asylum seekers a “cancer in our body.”
 She later lied and
claimed that she meant that the phenomenon of asylum seekers is akin to cancer.
Minutes after the rally ended, a mob set out to attack asylum seekers and their
property. Neither of the three members of Knesset were taken in for
questioning. On the other hand, the court had no problem sending Sheikh Raed Salah
to prison for incitement during one of his sermons.

I write this not out of support for any of the things that were published. I
can find hundreds of additional examples of inciting, racist and disgraceful
statuses written by Jews. I can also quote more indictments of Palestinians for
their statuses. But there is no point; we do not live in a state where citizens
are equal before the law.

*John Brown is the pseudonym of an Israeli academic and
blogger. Noam Rotem is an Israeli activist, high-tech executive and author
of the blog,
subtitled “Godwin doesn’t live here any more.”  This article was first
published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it 

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Tony Greenstein

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