Image: Nadia Mansour/Facebook
Sivan Tal has proposed on Twitter a UN resolution on Nakba denial similar to the Israeli-sponsored resolution approved by the UN General Assembly in January of this year condemning any denial of the Holocaust and urging all nations and social media companies “to take active measures to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial or distortion.”
The resolution would set out a definition of Nakba denial as an expression of racism that includes attempts to distort historical facts:
- Intentional efforts to excuse or minimize the impact of the Nakba and ongoing Zionist crimes against the Palestinian people.
- Denial of 4,000 years of Palestine’s history in contradiction to reliable sources.
- Attempts to blame Palestinians for causing their own genocide.
- Statements that cast the Nakba as a positive historical event or excuse it by referencing the Holocaust.
- Attempts to blur the responsibility for Zionist crimes by putting blame on other nations or ethnic groups.
With such a definition, blame shifting, like that expressed by Gideon Levy in Haaretz, would be recognized as racist. Gideon wrote, “Without the Holocaust they [Palestinians] would not have lost their land, and would not be imprisoned today in a gigantic concentration camp in Gaza or living under a brutal military occupation in the West Bank.”
The Holocaust did speed up Jewish immigration to Palestine from Europe and was exploited by both the Zionists and the British to bring the Balfour Declaration to fruition. But Jewish immigration to Palestine, even in such great numbers, is not the cause of the Nakba and would not have necessarily established a Jewish state there (violently through the Palestinian Nakba or Catastrophe) against the will of the native Arab population but for Zionist planning (long in the making — the First Zionist Congress dates back to 1897), determination, money, connections, machination, terror and violence (See A State of Terror by Tom Suarez and Against Our Better Judgment by Alison Weir). Norman Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Sufferings demonstrates how Israel continues to exploit the Holocaust to whitewash its crimes.
With a UN resolution addressing Nakba denial, Facebook and other social media platforms would take active measures to combat information distortion or fake news on Palestine. For example, memes of historian Nur Masalha’s book Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History (such as that published in One km to Palestine) would not attract hordes of trolls on Facebook denying the history of Palestine with impunity.
The resolution would help the experts who review and update Facebook standards. With the definition above in mind, consider how the following exchange on Facebook might be viewed differently:
“James Freestone, it’s up to you to get educated … or not.”
The above comment from a thread in a group called Crimes of Israel was flagged by Facebook as going against its community standards. My account is now restricted because of this utterance.
I wrote the comment as a response to Nakba denial observations made by Freestone, a Zionist troll, who was dismissing, as “Jew hate,” my defense of the academic persecution of UK Palestinian student Shahd Abusalama and the call by the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) to rescind the use of the IHRA definition of antisemitism as a tool in complaints and disciplinary procedures.”
The troll went on to retort:
“Educated on your propaganda?
I will pass and also remind you of a few facts that you face daily….
1. There will never be a Palestine.
2. There will never be ROR [right of return for Palestinian refugees].
3. 1948 humiliation is eternal.”
Educating a troll was not my objective in participating in this Facebook group with 11k members. I agree with David Spero’s argument in “Israel’s On-line Army: Don’t feed the trolls, they’re fighting a war.” Rather, it was to reach its members with information on Israeli crimes. However, now I realize the group itself was either taken over by pro-Israel propagandists or was founded on purpose by them in order to create a “showcase” of “anti-Semitism” in social media. (The group’s “about” section cites the following broken url http://israevil.com/) [Note: There are two other groups with the same name on Facebook that seem to be legitimate.]
No matter what information you threw at him, the troll responded with a variation of “You Jew haters be it in UK or USA don’t get to define how we feel and what we hear.” He then posted the url of a smear blog ala Canary Mission (called stopantisemitism.org) featuring me as “antisemite-of-the-week-rima-najjar-the-hateful-blogger” that interprets my writing on Medium as antisemitic with the comment: “Just as I thought….just a petty Jew hater.”
That last comment is still up there. When it was reported, Facebook’s review came back with:
We must fight, condemn and suppress Nakba denial on social media that often ends up ruining people’s lives. I am retired and Freestone’s posts and smears have no effect on my livelihood. But that’s not the case for Shahd Abusalama and countless other activists for Palestine.
This troll, along with the fake Crimes of Israel group, is essentially engaged in Nakba denial, which is the same as Israel’s “narrative.”
Here is an example of the hasbara on the same group by the troll on duty (or a bot) of the moment (Esther Curry — they take turns commenting this propaganda on what is posted there about Israel’s crimes):
Nakba denial goes hand-in-hand on Facebook with Islamophobia as well as racism (Arabophobia) and the Jewish supremacy narrative.
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.