Palestinians, terrorism... and Facebook

Palestinians, terrorism... and Facebook
Comment: The enforcement of Israel's dominant narrative by social media networks is not surprising when even fellow Arabs turn against Palestinians.
4 min read
10 Mar, 2015
The border crossing between Egypt and Gaza is only opened very rarely [Getty]

The Palestine cause is an Arab cause. The Palestinians can never triumph without their Arab depth.

While this premise is true, it sounds antiquated these days.

The Arabs themselves - in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen - have an even greater need to dig into this depth to find an Arab identity through which they can counter their present fragmentation.

Yet the Palestinians saw early on how their Arab depth could be used against them. They have often suffered at the hands of legitimacy-seeking dictatorial regimes who would exploit their cause for demogogic reasons, or by Washington's regional allies using it as a bargaining chip.

This has often led to concessions being offered at the expense of the Palestinians in order to win Washington's favour.

     In today's Egypt, the regime and its media supporters treat Palestinians as 'aliens' and use them as scapegoats

In today's Egypt, in an even more dismal era, the regime and its media supporters treat Palestinians as "aliens" and use them as scapegoats for the regime's social and political contradictions.

The Palestinians have been converted into the cause of Egypt's woes because of its defeats by Israel.

Meanwhile, the regime has projected its hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood onto Hamas, although it has never carried out military operations outside historic Palestine, unlike other regional armed groups and other Palestinian factions.

The issue here is not Hamas, but Cairo's stance with regard to Palestinian resistance to the ongoing occupation. The issue is the false legitimisation of an inhumane and illegal blockade of Gaza.

For in addition to trying to prevent the Palestinian people from defending themselves against Israeli attacks - by stopping the movement of arms into Gaza - the Egyptian regime is starving the territory by means of its politically motivated blockade.

This a policy that targets civilians. The regime's hostility to the Brotherhood is not the real motive here. Rather, Cairo realises that its true ally can put pressure on the US, the French, Western media, and even on Russia. For the Cairo regime's true ally is Israel.

Indeed, the one thing that foreign powers always seem to agree on, as we shall see, is Israel's "security".

They will all turn a blind eye to human rights violations in Egypt, and the military overthrow of democracy, at the behest of the only serious patron of the Egyptian top brass, Israel's security. To this end Rafah and much of Sinai become valueless collateral damage; to this end Hamas is designated "terrorist".

Facebook versus the Palestinians

A few years ago some youths in Palestine created a Facebook page for me.

Recently, I agreed to endorse it, after titles like "the thinker, doctor…" were removed. It took a long time and effort to get Facebook's administration to approve the changes.

I am not active on social media but I am aware of both its importance and its limitations. I have tackled this subject on previous occasions.

I have no connection to the many other pages created in my name, some to support and some to slander. The official page itself has been hacked many times by people seemingly connected to Arab and Israeli intelligence agencies, but we have managed to recover it every time.

Occasionally, I post an opinion or an article on the page. The number of followers has exceeded 1.2 million, a number I thought should not be ignored, especially since I had closed down my personal account temporarily.

The day before yesterday, I wrote:

Only the Occupation cannot tell the difference between occupation and resistance. I am astonished by Arabs who support Israel against Hamas. I am astonished by those who think the number of terrorists is too small, and so decide to add Hamas to them.

The next morning, I found a note stating that my post was in violation of Facebook's terms and conditions, and that it had been removed. The note said the account was suspended. I do not know whether this is temporary or permanent.

     There is no occupation in modern history that has not branded resistance as 'terrorism' or 'sabotage'

The first sentence is an accurate characterisation of the position of the Occupation, any occupation, regarding resistance, as it is never in the occupier's interest to distinguish "resistance" from "terrorism".

There is no occupation in modern history that has not branded resistance as "terrorism" or "sabotage".

The second sentence, meanwhile, raised a question: are there so few terrorists in the world that non-terrorists have to be lumped in with them?

Any Arab institution, even a low-level Egyptian court, that designates a resistance movement such as Hamas as a "terrorist" group is in effect endorsing the Occupation's point of view.

Facebook did not like the post. So Facebook decided it was its right to remove it and send the author a note written in a patronising tone.

Dear readers: consider the note above a reminder of how the never virtual, never impartial, reality of social media is ultimately rooted in the dominant power structure and its interests and ideological bias.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition