Micah Lakin Avni & the deceits around the Shurat Hadin lawsuit against Facebook demanding censorship of Palestinian activists

Pal protesters group (Mohammed Abed:AFP:Getty Images) Nov 28 2015

This post is from November 28th, 2015 & gives background on the Shurat Hadin lawsuit against Facebook. Micah Lakin Avni is a central figure in the suit, often quoted by media:

PBS did a segment last Tuesday titled “Why 20,000 Israelis are suing Facebook over Palestinian attacks.” Other than the Zionist & right-wing Dysentery magazine (also called Commentary), the first three minutes rank among the most dishonest pieces of journalism about the current Israeli pogrom against Palestinians.

The segment was framed around the October 13th stabbing death of Richard Lakin, a 76-year-old Israeli on a Jerusalem bus–allegedly by a Palestinian youth. In umpteen articles we learn Lakin, who moved from the US to Israel as a settler at the age of 45, was a grandfather, retired elementary school principal who was once active in the US civil rights movement, wrote a book about kindness in the classroom, & worked for peaceful coexistence between Israelis & Palestinians. Sounds like a fine fellow indeed–despite his Zionist & colonial ideology.

PBS interviewed Micah Avni, the son of Lakin, who said he began searching the internet struggling to understand what would incite young Palestinians to gruesomely stab old men. This is where you wonder how such a prince among men raised such a bold-faced liar.

Avni claims he found thousands of sites on FB, Twitter, YouTube inciting Palestinians to stabbing & other violent acts against Israelis & Jews including instructional videos showing how to skewer them to death. Avni is shown looking at the site “Cyber & Jihad Lab,” a project of the notoriously disreputable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) which identifies these sites. MEMRI is an Israeli propaganda front group with non-profit status from the US government–part of the largesse of US support for Israeli apartheid. It is repeatedly accused of selectively translating & mistranslating from Arabic to make Palestinians & Muslims look violent.

But Avni’s lies don’t begin there. He didn’t just sign on to the class action lawsuit against FB after his father’s murder. He’s been involved with promoting it for a long time & has also been campaigning in the Knesset for regulation (i.e., abridging freedom of speech) of social media under the guise of prohibiting incitement to violence–as though it were really a major problem among Palestinians.The family added Lakin as a chief litigant in the suit–exploiting his death to make a shabby case compelling.

PBS producers know all that. To peddle this stinking kettle of fish as journalism, the PBS segment cited the Israeli Foreign Ministry as their source that as of October 1st there were 70 Israeli targets for the “kitchen knife Intifada.” They claimed 21 Israelis were killed & 184 wounded–“the vast majority by stabbing”–by Palestinian assailants as young as 12 & 13. They added (almost parenthetically) that 86 Palestinians were killed, “shot during or after carrying out attacks or in clashes with Israeli forces.” Interesting that those figures don’t agree with a single other media report where only 11 Israelis are reported killed by stabbing & nothing approximating that number of wounded.

The rest of the segment was interviews with Noura Erakat, a Palestinian-American who was dismissive of this rubbish & pointed out that FB has many sites inciting against Palestinians & which cheered on ethnic cleansing in Gaza in 2014. There was also an interview with legal scholar Jonathan Turley on the danger of abridging free speech & free association.

There is no problem on social media worth a lawsuit. The lawsuit is part of the gangster tactics used by the Israeli law firm Shurat HaDin which won a suit in a New York court against the Palestinian Authority for inciting terrorism & is now targeting BDS groups around the world. Shurat HaDin, which has ties to Israeli national security, uses methods taught to its director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The intent is to tie up resources & bankrupt political opponents. It’s an association the SPLC has yet to account for.

The lawsuit intends to force FB to set up its algorithms to identify & remove material & to prevent “violent-minded Palestinians” from connecting with each other. Let’s get real here. There isn’t enough such material to warrant a class action lawsuit. The intent is to silence the voices of Palestinians, obstruct the growth of BDS & Palestinian solidarity under the guise of ending a “stabbing Intifada” & a “FB Intifada.” Free speech, freedom of association, & justice for Palestinians is what is at stake.

This photo shows the real relationship of forces: unarmed Palestinians against one of the most ruthless & well-armed military forces in the world.

Stand with Palestinian justice; build BDS.

(Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

Censorship on Facebook is a civil liberties call to arms

Mudasir Ahamd, 8, injured by pellets (Yawar Nazir : Getty) July 12 2016

Facebook is systematically removing posts describing the violence in Kashmir & suspending those who post them under their community standards provisions to ‘prevent abuse, direct threats, encouraging violence, terrorism, or hate speech.’ Their action against the Kashmir posts has been swift & without warning. In a second you are notified the post was removed & you are blocked. The problem is that none of the posts violate any such standards & are well within the norms of respectable journalism, with the exception that they tell the truth about the barbarism of the Indian occupation.

There was nothing personal in the public display of affections between Indian prime minister Narendra Modi & Mark Zuckerberg. It only sealed the unsavory political deal they had struck where FB would censor news about the Indian occupation of Kashmir. The systematic decades-long news blackout in media was being countered on social media by Kashmiri activists. India perceived that as a direct threat to the continued occupation of Kashmir because they have witnessed the massive growth of Palestinian solidarity as a result of social media countering the lies of corporate news sources.

It is only an apparent irony that the Israeli law firm Shurat Hadin led by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has just filed a $1-billion lawsuit in a NY district court against Facebook Inc., alleging that it violates the US Anti-Terrorism Act by providing a platform to militant groups for “recruiting, radicalizing, & instructing terrorists, raising funds, creating fear & carrying out attacks.” According to Shurat Hadin, the lawsuit is to force FB to “take responsibility” for the content “floating around their sites.” They see it as a free-for-all for Palestinian solidarity that must be suppressed.

The lawsuit specifically cites Hamas who govern the Gaza Strip when there isn’t a shred of evidence beyond the scope of ridicule showing that Hamas is recruiting or doing anything else nefarious on FB. But Hamas is not the target of this lawsuit because it is no threat to Israel when Gaza is controlled by an Israeli embargo & periodically bombed to smithereens. The sole purpose of this lawsuit is to force FB to crack down even more on Palestinian solidarity activists & on those advocating for BDS.

This lawsuit should be taken very seriously since in February 2015, a US jury in a NY federal court ordered the Palestinian Authority (PA) & PLO to pay more than $218 million in damages for “providing material support to terrorists” for attacks in Jerusalem attributed to Hamas. The lawsuit was the work of Shurat Hadin & Nitsana Darshan-Leitner who have close ties to the Israeli government.

The censorship on FB is already a problem where they willingly play a part in the management of information available to people around the world. Corporate media has gotten away with murder for decades in how it reports or does not report news—especially about war, colonialism, racism, the war on the Black community, & occupation like in Palestine & Kashmir. Social media is disrupting the entire edifice of news reporting & control of information, shaking it at its very foundations.

An example would be that in reporting on this lawsuit against FB, it was said that Hamas “overran” Gaza in 2007 when in fact, like it or not, they were elected by the people of Gaza. Media also reported that the lawsuit was filed after “scores of Palestinian attacks targeting Israeli civilians & troops” fueled by incitement on social media. If it were not for social media, that lying-assed narrative would prevail around the world.

The fate of this lawsuit against FB is of great concern & cannot be left up to a US district court beholden to the powers-that-be—as we have seen in so many rulings including the previous Shurat Hadin lawsuit & the Bhopal ruling favoring Dow Chemical.

Those who value social media as a source of information & solidarity-building need to mobilize to oppose censorship on FB, as it stands now, & to prevent the US court from attempting to truncate freedom of speech even more on social media. We have a right under the US Bill of Rights to express our views, to exchange information, & to build solidarity without impediment.

Nothing shows the importance of controlling information more than the Indian lockdown on the internet & cell phones in Kashmir while soldiers go on a murderous rampage against unarmed & injured civilians. This is 8-year-old Mudasir, whose eye was damaged by pellet munitions used by the Indian army, waiting for treatment at a hospital. Most major media has not covered this rampage in any form. Only The Atlantic has shown photos of the barbarism being deployed.

That’s why social media must be protected as a democratic forum. That’s why we must mobilize to protect it from censorship & to demand FB stop removing our posts & locking us out for speaking the truth.

(Photo by Yawar Nazir/Getty)