Facebook Sanctions Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Page over Hate Speech After Post Claiming ‘Arabs Want to Destroy Us All’
William Cole, Daily Mail, September 12, 2019
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party was found Thursday to have violated Facebook’s hate-speech policy after a post from his account saying Arabs ‘want to destroy us all’.
The social media platform confirmed that they had suspended the page’s automated chat bot function for a 24 hour period.
The page had earlier called on voters to prevent the establishment of a government composed of ‘Arabs who want to destroy us all — women, children and men’.
‘After careful review of the Likud campaign’s bot activities, we found a violation of our hate speech policy,’ a Facebook statement said, referring to the chat function.
Mr Netanyahu denied he wrote the post in an interview with Kan Reshet Bet radio.
‘It wasn’t me. It was one of the workers at our election headquarters,” he told Israeli public radio. ‘That mistake was fixed quickly.
‘Think logically: Do you think I would really write such a thing?
‘I have friends in Arab countries and I have respect for human beings regardless of whether they are Jewish or Arab, Muslim or Christian.’
He added that it was a staffer’s mistake and the post was removed.
Mr Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival ahead of elections next week and has been shoring up nationalist voters with strong language and hardline promises.
On Tuesday he announced he would annex the Jordan Valley, a large swathe of occupied Palestinian territory, if he was re-elected.
‘Today, I announce my intention, after the establishment of a new government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea,’ Netanyahu said in a speech broadcast live on Israeli TV channels.
The move has been considered a complete abandonment of any form of two-state solution with Palestine.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, in a statement issued shortly before Netanyahu spoke, amid reports of a possible annexation announcement, said that the Israeli leader is ‘a prime destroyer of the peace process.’
He also drew outrage from opposition parties for push legislation that would allow party officials to bring cameras to polling stations.
It was seen as a deliberate attempt to suppress turnout among Israel’s Arab population through intimidation. The bill failed to pass.
It was revealed in the same radio interview with Netanyahu that his Likud party is also unlikely to win the next election on September 17.
Netanyahu insisted that he was only interested in protecting the integrity of the vote and preventing fraud.
Netanyahu has used similar tactics in the past, including warning on election day in 2015 that Israeli Arabs were voting in ‘droves’, a comment for which he later apologised.