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Facebook Caves to Arab Threats Against Journalist

Facebook has caved in to pressure from pro-Palestinian Authority activists, temporarily banning Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 1/16/2013, 9:51 AM

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Facebook has apparently caved in to pressure from pro-Palestinian Authority activists, temporarily banning Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh and setting up what may be a structure for anti-Israel support in future posts.

Abu Toameh is an internationally-known Arab journalist who publishes in numerous media outlets around the world. He often writes controversial pieces that raise eyebrows in the Arab world, particularly in the Palestinian Authority. 

His latest challenge to Arab dictatorship came Monday in a report on the trial of a former Jordanian intelligence chief facing corruption charges. He included a link to coverage of the trial in an Arabic-language Jordanian newspaper. The journalist also included a link to a post he wrote for the Gatestone Institute blog in which he criticized the Palestinian Authority for its own dirty little government secrets.

“The truth sometimes hurts,” Abu Toameh noted in his post. “That is why the Palestinian Authority has been working hard to prevent the outside world from hearing about many occurrences that reflect negatively on its leaders or people.” 

But Abu Toameh is not the only Arab writer to comment on the undemocratic events that take place daily within the PA.  Rights organizations in Judea, Samaria and Gaza have also made efforts to publicize the human rights violations perpetrated by the PA government as well, among them the PCHR, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Nevertheless, Abu Toameh’s Facebook profile was suddenly terminated following a flood of hate mail and death threats in his “inbox,” and a notice stating he had posted an item violating the social networking site’s terms of use. 

The writer said he then received a notice saying the account was temporarily closed “for security reasons.” A day later, the account was reopened, but with his last two posts deleted, and with no explanation offered. Facebook has not responded to numerous requests for comment by The Jerusalem Post. 

Abu Toameh was quoted as saying that some people had posted pictures of him with a Star of David on his forehead. “This time it looks like a concerted campaign against me,” he said.

He noted that it is odd, however, that Hamas leaders and known terrorists are allowed by Facebook to maintain profiles, adding that the site still has the final decision as to “what’s acceptable. Now we have to be careful about what we post and what we share. Does this mean we can’t criticize Arab governments anymore?”