Facebook drops ban on largest pro-Israel social media network

World's largest pro-Israel social media network, bringing together 75 million Evangelical Christians, restored after Facebook shut it down.

Tags: Facebook
Arutz Sheva Staff ,

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Seventy-five million Evangelical followers combating anti-Semitism are celebrating, as Facebook restored the page of the Jerusalem Prayer Team, the largest pro-Israel social network site in the world.

The page was shut down without warning three months ago, after a controversy related to over two million anti-Semitic posts that appeared on the page in a 72-hour period during the latest military operation in Gaza.

“Our goal is to build Israel’s brand and to make friends of Zion by fundamentally educating millennials and combating anti-Semitism,” said Dr. Mike Evans, founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team and Friends of Zion.

Evans was in Israel preparing to host a global Facebook event on May 19, whose goal was to mobilize support for the State of Israel during Operation Guardian of the Walls, when he was informed the page had been shut down. Christian broadcasters, politicians, faith leaders, and celebrities, such as President of the Billy Graham Association Rev. Franklin Graham, President of the CBN Network Gordon Robertson, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Governor Mike Huckabee, Pastor Robert Jeffress, Jon Voight, Pat Boone, Pastor Jack Graham and many others were scheduled to take part in the event.

On May 12-14, more than two million anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments were posted to the Jerusalem Prayer Teams’ Facebook page. Facebook shut down the page and notified the Jerusalem Prayer Team on May 14.

Leaders from around the world came to the support of the Jerusalem Prayer Team and Dr. Evans during the crisis, including Fox News host Sean Hannity, Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Mike Huckabee, and former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert.

Olmert said, “I’m absolutely appalled by the decision of Facebook to cut you off from the network. I have full confidence in the dedication, devotion, principle and support that you have manifested to the State of Israel. And I think the basic principles and value of freedom of speech must allow you the opportunity to share your opinion and support and attitudes towards the State of Israel with all the tens of millions of followers that are dedicated to you.”

Evans believes the Facebook page closure appears to have been part of a larger misinformation attack against Facebook that took place during Operation Guardian of the Walls. NBC News reported in May that pro-Palestinian activists are running a coordinated campaign to downgrade Facebook’s app review ratings to protest the company’s alleged censorship of Palestinian accounts and posts.

The targeted cyberattack changed the average star rating for the social network from over 4 out of 5, to 2.3 out of 5 stars on Apple’s App Store, and 2.4 out of 5 on the Google Play store Saturday evening after receiving thousands of one-star reviews. Many of the reviews included comments mentioning Facebook’s alleged silencing of Palestinian voices and hashtags such as #FreePalestine or #GazaUnderAttack, according to the report. Many of the users posted complaints on App Stores about how Facebook “wiped out their right to express themselves.”

The rating of social applications is likely to drop even further over the coming days as many hashtags are currently trending, condemning these apps for censoring Palestinian posts and allowing provocative Israeli content.

Amid all the censorship, Facebook is alleged to have partnered with the Jewish State to censor Palestinians by creating a page titled “Jerusalem Prayers Team,” according to the report. Reports in the international media suggested Facebook liked the page “Jerusalem Prayers Team” on behalf of a large number of users, without their consent.

Evans also said he believes what the Jordanian News reported on May 16th in an interview with Ahmed Saleh in an article entitled “Jordanian hacks Facebook Zionist support group.”

According to the article “Ahmad Saleh, on Saturday hacked ‘Jerusalem Prayer Team,’ a Zionist support group on Facebook, which had allegedly garnered almost 76 million likes. ‘I received word that Facebook had created a page in support of Zionists and had (falsely) given 76 million likes to the page. You may have not even viewed the page but could still find that you or a friend had liked it,’ Saleh told Al Ghad. ‘I hacked the page because it did not reflect the (real) image of Zionism, and to stand under His Majesty’s firm stance on Al-Aqsa Mosque, Muslim holy sites in Palestine, and Hashemite Custodianship. The page was created to glamorize the public image of Zionism and mask its crimes,’ Saleh explained.”

Evans, a long-time figure in the Evangelical pro-Israel community who has worked to combat anti-Semitism, also founded the Friends of Zion Heritage Center in Jerusalem, in which the late ninth president of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, served as the founding chairman.

The Friends of Zion award had been given to more than 20 world leaders, including two U.S. presidents, George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump.

Evans said, “Though Facebook claimed it closed the page due to inauthentic behavior and spam, I believe what the Pakistan Daily quoted is in fact what fueled all this.” Evans added, “Though Facebook continues to believe the page was shut down due to inauthentic behavior and spam by the Jerusalem Prayer Team, I am thankful the page is back up.”



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