Hateful and Violent Platforms: Comparing Facebook and the Golan Heights

Social media companies have been urged by U.S. government officials to do more to curb the spread of hateful ideology on their platforms. While the major platforms like YouTube and Facebook had long ago removed content which promoted violence, last week those companies took measures to remove not only specific hateful speech, but banned the individuals and hate groups themselves.

Initially Facebook had touted itself as a town hall/ public square of sorts. If an individual or group had the legal right to say something in public – even objectionable – they would permit such expression online. However, in the wake of fake news and the spread of terrorism, Facebook opted to ban “dangerous individuals” including Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and Laura Loomer.

The reaction has been mixed.

While many people believe that the opinions of some individuals raise a level of hatred in society and welcome a new world order where such opinions would be deprived air, others are worried that the powerful global platforms would become the arbiters of what is considered permissible speech. Why should pointing out noxious radical Muslim Antisemitism be an action worthy of being banned while Holocaust denial is acceptable? Why should a crazy conspiracy theory that Jews were behind the terrorism of 9/11 be free to publish, while pointing to studies linking vaccinations and autism land someone in social media purgatory?

Others contend that YouTube and Facebook are private companies and are free to set the standards of their choosing. But is that so clear? Can the platforms, for example, more actively ban conservative content like PragerU than hate groups like Students for Justice in Palestine? If all private companies are permitted to decide for themselves what can be served on their platform, why the big fuss of the Colorado baker making a gay wedding cake? He didn’t ban gay people from buying items in his store, he just wouldn’t sell certain items at his store, nor create such items.

Governments also deny certain individuals particular rights if they feel such people are threats of its society.

Many countries – including leading democracies such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel – deny entry and citizenship to individuals “not conducive to the public good.” Some countries do more than just turn people away; they strip individuals of certain rights if they are viewed as threats, condemning them to “civil death.” These people lose the rights to use the country’s legal system, making it impossible to work in certain fields or even to own property.

The application of such principle is used in international contexts in the Middle East.

After decades of Syria shelling Israeli citizens in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and listening to Syrian taunts and threats of destroying Israel, Israel took the Golan Heights in the June 1967 Six Day War. That elevated platform was the launching pad Syrians used to attack the Israeli north. Israel effectively annexed the region in 1981 and the United States officially recognized Israeli rights to the area in March 2019, as the Syrian civil war wound down leaving the murderous dictator Basha al-Assad in place.


The Israeli Golan Heights
(photo: First.One.Through)

Societies around the world are making difficult decisions whether violent and hateful people, groups and governments maintain rights afforded to the public at large. How standards are applied and who protests such application, will say a lot about the organizations doing the banning and the protesters. But nothing will say more than the hypocrisies which will undoubtedly abound.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Uncomfortable vs. Dangerous Free Speech

Stopping the Purveyors of Hateful Propaganda

Selective Speech

The Press Are Not Guardians of the Galaxy

The Noose and the Nipple

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

Alternatives for Punishing Dead Terrorists

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Israel Has Much Higher Claims to The West Bank Than Golan Heights

On March 21, 2019, US President Donald Trump said that it was time to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The nature of the timing was viewed by cynics as a nod to help Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu win the election happening in a couple of weeks. For people who understand the nature of the strategic security need for the Golan, the timing had much more to do with the ending of the eight-year civil war in Syria and the rapidly expanding deployment of Iranian forces into Syria. An Iranian-Syrian axis in the Golan Heights would certainly lead to a war with Israel which would kill tens of thousands of people, conservatively.

While there was certainly some benefit politically to Netanyahu for the gesture, the rationale for Israel’s control of the plateau is definitely about security. But the arguments applied to the Golan are relatively weak compared to all of the reasons Israel should have sovereignty over the “West Bank.”

History

Jews lived in the Golan Heights for thousands of years. The ancient Kingdom of Israel occupied most of southern Lebanon and Syria and dozens of synagogues over 1000 years old can be found in the area. But most Jews did not live in that area, certainly compared to the West Bank, over the past 100 years.

Religion

There are no particularly important religious sites for Jews in the Golan. However, almost all of the sacred sites for Jews are located in the “West Bank,” which the Jordanians seized in 1949 including Jerusalem, the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron, Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus/Shechem.

Legal

When the global powers opted to divide the Ottoman Empire after World War I, they set some arbitrary lines. The French took the mandates of Lebanon and Syria and the British took Palestine. While the Syrians wanted control of all of Palestine, the global powers allotted Syria the Golan Heights, and Syria controlled the area until Israel attacked it in a preemptive defensive war in 1967.

The situation could not be more different regarding the “West Bank.” That area has always been a core part of the Jewish holy land for thousands of years. It was set as an integral part of the Jewish Homeland in international law in 1920 and 1922, specifically stating that no person should be denied the right to live there based on their religion.

The Jordanian army seized the land of Palestine and annexed it in 1949, contrary to all international laws, and evicted all of the Jewish inhabitants. The Jordanians then attacked Israel again in 1967 and lost the land for which they never had any rights.

Security

The security situation in the Golan is extraordinary, due both to the height and reach of the area which can cover all of northern Israel, as well as the military operation of an Iranian-Syrian pact.

But the security situation from the West Bank is also severe. The spine of the western West Bank is very high and overlooks all of Israel’s major population centers and airport. The miles of borders dwarf the size of borders in the Golan and Gaza.


The contrast between the Golan Heights and the West Bank is striking:

  • Original rights: Syria was allotted the Golan Heights roughly 100 years ago, while the West Bank was allotted to the Jewish homeland at the same time.
  • Rights of holder: Israel took the Golan from Syria which had rights to the land, while Israel took the West Bank from Jordan which had NO RIGHTS to the land.
  • Method of acquisition: Israel took the Golan in a preemptive attack, and took the West Bank in a DEFENSIVE ATTACK.
  • History/connection: While Israel has a connection to the Golan Heights, it pales compared to the eternal connection to the “West Bank” and Jerusalem.

It was President Barack Obama who saw the Israeli-Arab Conflict as one based purely on security. If he were president today and saw Iran embedding itself into Syria, he might have sought to help secure Israel’s rights and defenses in the Golan, just as Trump announced.

But Trump sees the Jewish State from more than just a security or political standpoint. As he appreciates the long history, deep religious connection and legal rights of Israel to the West Bank, one must foresee Trump embracing Israel’s annexation of that region as well.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Recognition of Acquiring Disputed Land in a Defensive War

I call BS: You Never Recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

The Many Lies of Jimmy Carter

Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

Maybe Truman Should Not Have Recognized Israel

The US Recognizes Israel’s Reality

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