A Jewish activist has rallied thousands of virtual troops to go after the Jew-haters and terrorist-sympathizers of Facebook – with great success.
Enough was enough. The Facebook groups praising the murderer of the eight yeshiva boys at Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav last month was the last straw for David Appletree on the social networking web site.
He had accepted that reading a newspaper was no longer a relaxing experience; neither was listening to the radio or watching TV after a long day at work without seeing anti-Israel propaganda. But when his use of Facebook yo keep in touch with his friends brought hatred of his religion and homeland to his computer screen, Mr. Appletree declared war.
His first move was establishing a group called "FACEBOOK: Why Do You Aid And Abet Terrorist Organizations?" The group lists over 80 Facebook groups that praise Hitler, call for the destruction of Israel or encourage Arabs to unite together to throw Israelis into the Mediterranean Sea.
David, who works in media production in America, considers himself a full-time activist between jobs. “An unpaid labor of love," he says.
However, the activist powerhouse was not always pro-Israel, let alone an activist.
"I was living in New York City for seven years, reading the New York Times from cover to cover daily," David said. "I used to be very liberal and very pro-Palestinian, although I was never an activist for them. With the rise of the Second Intifada in 2000, everything shifted. After the September 11th attacks, my views solidified....I watched the towers burn and this girl on the roof of my building with me said, 'If it wasn't for Israel, this wouldn't have happened.' I felt like throwing her off my roof."
The experience not only changed his political opinions, but his religious views as well. The experience swelled his Jewish pride.
"Both experiences helped me realize that Israel is just an extension of the Jewish soul, both personally and collectively," David said. "I see my activism as…prayer."
After watching the towers crumble, he began to turn to the media for help. "First, I started with e-mail," David said. "I started sending tons of e-mail to friends and family. Then I started writing to the media. I had around 1,500 addresses. Then, during the war with Hizbullah, my protest evolved into a 'Support Israel' fest on MySpace. It's all been very organic and all Internet-based."
The evolution to Facebook seemed natural. Facebook, which is full of college students, is a virtual hotbed of activism - all the more reason why David felt a need to put a stop to the lies being spread.
"My goal is to attract like-minded people and unify them," David said. "I want to strengthen the people who feel the same way. A small group of determined people can make a lot of noise. Facebook is the fastest-growing social networking site in the world. It allows like-minded people to interact. Facebook needs to do more about the anti-Semitic and pro-terror groups on its site. Seriously, Facebook should hire me. I would clean it up in one day."
David's work has reached the ears of the media, most recently the Washington Post. In addition to writing every major media organization in the world, he has alerted the CIA, the FBI, Scotland Yard, and Israel Intelligence of the disturbing evidence of terror and violence he has found on Facebook.
Since the inception of the group on March 16th, 28 groups have been taken down, and the number continues to rise. Still, the long list of 80 groups stands, with 250,000 supporters around the world standing behind them.
"All of the groups I've listed are threatening," David said. "Some of them are promoting illegal terrorist groups. They are all defamatory against the Jews."
A lot of the Facebook groups in question are in Arabic and are translated using Google Translate. Using this tool, David has found groups looking to unite anti-Semites against "pig Jews" and other atrocities that do not raise red flags for Facebook’s management because of the language barrier. Appletree says, though, that the ones in English stand as strong and unnoticed as the Arabic ones.
"These groups are very clearly against Facebook's own rules," David said. "The terms say that 'one cannot upload, post, transmit, share, store, or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable.' The first amendment is out the window at a private site like Facebook, just like one cannot yell 'bomb' on a plane. One cannot be promoting the killing of all Jews and wiping out Israel on Facebook according to their own rules. The site is aggressive about pornography and people abusing the site's privileges, but negligent in going after these pro-terror and anti-Semitic groups praising Adolf Hitler."
Meanwhile, David and the thousands of people in his groups continue to fight the growing hate-groups on Facebook. He's an activist using the power of words and social networking to bring down injustice in the Internet world that is Facebook.