Israeli journalist refuses to grant prize to Facebook

Journalist Lital Shemesh refuses to grant prize to senior Facebook official due to the company's condoning of incitement against Jews.

Uzi Baruch, London,

Lital Shemesh
Lital Shemesh
Ofer Amram

Israeli journalist Lital Shemesh refused to grant a prize to a senior official in Facebook due to the Facebook management’s condoning of the barrage of incitement against Jews on the social network.

Shemesh is in London with a delegation of the the “Gesher” organization and the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, and met with Simon Milner, Facebook’s Policy Director in Britain, the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

Shemesh, who serves among other things as a journalist for Channel 20 and a presenter for Israel Hayom, asked Milner why Facebook condones incitement against Jews, which can lead to the perpetration of terror attacks and the murder of innocent people.

Milner avoided giving a straight answer, and those present were requested not to quote the words that were said in the room by Facebook representatives.

As was stated, Shemesh refused to grant a prize to Milner from the members of the delegation. She told Arutz Sheva that Milner “has no small part in the incitement to murder of Jews. I just couldn’t.”

Last month, a US court rejected a lawsuit totaling $1 billion against Facebook for failing to prevent and remove incitement to murder Israelis.

The legal organization Shurat Hadin, which brought the lawsuit, announced that it would seek to appeal the decision and that it would continue to fight against the incitement posted on Facebook.

The court accepted Facebook's claim that based on US law Facebook and other social media sites merely serve as platforms for content created by users, and are therefore immune to claims of liability. The court ruled that only the creators of offensive content are liable.

"Despite our disappointment with this decision, the fact that the court did not provide an answer against our main argument that Facebook should not provide services to elements that incite to terrorism and extreme violence, as governments and business organizations do, only reinforces our desire to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States and to hold a broader discussion of Facebook's responsibilities in cases involving human lives," said Shurat Hadin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.

The lawsuit, which was filed in July 2016 on behalf of American citizens and their families who were injured or killed in terrorist attacks in Israel, required Facebook to act to remove content which incites to violence and murder in Israel just as it had done in France following the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris in which 130 people were killed.

An investigation by Shurat Hadin showed that Facebook did not act to remove incitement to murder Israelis during the so-called 'knife intifada,' when Many stabbing attacks against Israeli civilians were motivated by posts on social media.

Israel's Attorney General recently ruled that Israelis can sue Facebook in Israeli courts according to Israeli law, despite Facebook's rule that they can only be sued in California.