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Fatah's new Facebook page glorifies terrorists, exposed by PMW

Jack B. Winn  |
Terrorist Organization on Facebook
Stirring Up Controversy

by Jack B. Winn

The decades-long fight between Israelis and Palestinians is moving to another battlefield: Facebook.

According to Palestinian Media Watch, a watchdog group that monitors Palestinian media in the West Bank and Gaza, Fatah's inaugural website is stirring up controversy with a poster commemorating members of the terror squad that stormed the Tel-Aviv-based Savoy Hotel in 1975, resulting in the deaths of eight civilian hostages and 3 Israeli soldiers.

The Arabic text on the poster reads: 'The Tel Aviv operation, March 6, 1975. The Palestinian passage to the homeland,' reported PMW. Underneath the photos of the attackers are captions reading: 'The heroic shahid (martyr)' followed by the participants' names. A partial translation of a poem underneath the image reads: 'in the face of death our challenge stood/in the perfume of the blood our country is eminent.'

Earlier this month, Fatah launched its Facebook page to great fanfare among West Bank residents and Palestinian activists alike. Almost immediately, the poster was seized on by Western media and Israeli activists speculating whether Facebook's hosting of the Fatah page was a potential endorsement of terrorist violence under American and international law.
Founded in the early 1960's by Yasser Arafat, Fatah began carrying out terrorist raids against Israeli civilians in 1965. Dozens of raids were carried out each year, exclusively against civilian targets. The word "Fatah" means "conquest by means of jihad [Islamic holy war]."

According to Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, users are enjoined from posting content that is 'hateful, threatening, or incites violence.' However, as a self-professed political organization most Westerns consider a terrorist group, it is unclear whether Fatah can be forced to remove the poster and other related images from its profile.

Facebook media officials declined to comment about the Fatah poster or the company's intentions to remove it.

The soon-to-be 100 billion dollar company is no stranger to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2010, Facebook's automated blocker prevented use of the word ‘Palestinian' in page titles, although the automated filter did allow users to create groups using the word.
More recently, Facebook was sued by Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch, when a Facebook page promoting a third Palestinian Intifada advocating for the destruction of Israel popped up on his computer screen. The one billion dollar lawsuit alleges assault and negligence, willful and wanton conduct, gross negligence, and recklessness that place the lives of Jewish public figures like Klayman in jeopardy. Facebook eventually removed the page after subsequent pressure.

Prior to its removal, the Third Intifada page garnered over 350,000 followers--the largest of its kind to date. In support of its decision to remove the page, Facebook issued the following statement.

"The Page, The Third Palestinian Intifada, began as a call for peaceful protest, even though it used a term that has been associated with violence in the past. In addition, the administrators initially removed comments that promoted violence. However, after the publicity of the Page, more comments deteriorated to direct calls for violence. Eventually, the administrators also participated in these calls. After administrators of the page received repeated warnings about posts that violated our policies, we removed the Page. We continue to believe that people on Facebook should be able to express their opinions, and we don't typically take down content that speaks out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas. However, we monitor Pages that are reported to us and when they degrade to direct calls for violence or expressions of hate-as occurred in this case-we have and will continue to take them down."

While it's unclear whether or not Facebook will censor the Fatah page from celebrating violence against Israeli civilians, with 850 million members, it's an easy bet this event won't be the last instance of a group's messaging rubbing others the wrong way, or of terrorists attempting to use Facebook for nefarious purposes.