Richard Silverstein, a well respected American Jewish blogger and columnist has been banned by Facebook for accusing Israeli settlers of stealing land (shock, horror) on the basis that it “disparage[s] ethnic or religious groups”.
I am a freelance journalist and political blogger with 5,000 Facebook followers on my personal account and 1,500 Followers of my blog page, Tikun Olam. I publish articles about the Israeli-Arab conflict.
On June 7th, I posted to Facebook this article from the site, AI Monitor, which reported that Palestinian landowners who had lost their homes through fraudulent real estate transactions perpetrated by Israeli settlers had regained them.
I added to the article my own comment: “Israeli settlers steal land.” The screenshot of my post and comment is attached.
Somehow my comment was flagged as violating Facebook standards. Among the specific content which constitutes violating such standards, the rules mention comments that disparage ethnic or religious groups.
I would remind you that Israeli settlers are part of a nation. They are part of a right-wing movement within Israeli society. Their views are highly controversial not only in Israel, but among Jews and non-Jews outside Israel. They are not a religion or an ethnic group. And if we determine that they are Jews and therefore criticizing them is criticizing Jews as a religion, I would remind you that I am a Jew. My criticism of Israeli settlers has nothing to do with their religion (which I share). It is a criticism of the wholesale Israeli theft of Palestinians lands going back decades. It is also a criticism of the common practice by Israeli settlers of presenting fraudulent property sale contracts and forged documents to authenticate their “purchase” of Palestinian lands.
I would be happy to produce media sources to document the claims I raised above.
My suspension from Facebook is a travesty. I have asked for a review of this decision. I hope you can expedite it.
I plan on approaching several of the media outlets where I publish to interest them in this story. It would be great if I could also report that Facebook lifted the suspension when it learned about it.