On July 27th someone hacked hacked into a Facebook group called, “Israel” Is Not A Country!. Delist It From Facebook As A Country!” Responsibility was claimed by the Jewish Internet Defense Force.(JIDF) The JIDF posted the following statement on the group page:
We wish to be clear – we have no issues with legitimate political discourse so long as it is contextual, comparative and truthful. However, when it comes to encouraging the murder of Jews and purposefully disseminating misinformation to demonize Jews and to delegitimize Israel, there is a moral obligation to remove the platform of such repugnant hate-mongers. Unfortunately, we do not need to search too far back into history to realize that such evils have a real cost in terms of human lives.”
In addition to posting the above statement, the JIDF began deleting the names of all Forty Eight Thousand members of the group. As of last check, there were just over Twenty Thousand names still left on the list. The JIDF would not elaborate on how they have been able to accomplish this on an on-going basis. There apparently has been no response from Facebook to date.
In order to get some insight into the activities and motives of the JIDF with regards to Anti-Semitic and other types of hate speech in the social networking arena, I contacted the group responsible for the hack. A representative of the group agreed to be interviewed on the condition of anonymity. He related that he has received multiple death threats arising out of his activities in the JIDF.
What is the origin of of the JIDF?
The JIDF started as a grassroots effort at the beginning in 2000. Many of us were in NYC during 9/11, so that had a major impact as well. It began as a mass email campaign. It eventually morphed onto Myspace during the war with Hezbollah in 2006 and protesting the disengagement from Gush Katif/Gaza. Shortly thereafter, we evolved with the technology onto Facebook. Originally it started as just to share news and information about Israel and Jewish issues with a bit of commentary here and there. As we used Facebook, we noticed many of the issues began literally to stare us in the face. Anti-semitic and pro-Jihadist groups were springing up everywhere.
The name “JIDF” is a recent development. We liked how it morphed “Jewish” with IDF – especially in light of the contrast between the religious and secular world in Israel and the Jewish world in general.
What are the short and long term goals of the JIDF?
One of our short term objectives is to expose Barack Obama and prevent him from winning the Presidential election. In the long term we hope to expose and fight antisemitism and pro-Jihadist trends on the web, including, but not limited to, the vast array of issues on Facebook, Google/Youtube, Google- Earth, and Wikipedia.
What do you hope to expose about Barack Obama?
We hope to continue to highlight the issues surrounding his terrorist connections as well as his racist and antisemitic church which has supported Hamas and The Reverend Louis Farrakhan.
What is the position of the JIDF on the “Palestinian Question” regarding disputes over occupied lands?
Palestinians should be transferred out of Israeli territories. They can live in any of the other many Arab states. We are against all land concessions to our enemies. We are against the release of terrorist prisoners from Israeli prisons. We are against the arming and funding of our enemies and the negotiation with them. We are for morals, ethics and common sense and feel Israel must truly act as a “light unto the nations” in order for the world to be safe as we feel Israel is truly on the front lines in the war in which Islam has declared upon us
What has the reaction been from the Jewish community here and abroad?
Since the Jewish people are so diverse, the reaction has been diverse from full support to full condemnation.
What about the Muslim Community?
99.9% of Muslims hate us. There have been 4 viable death threats. These threats are not just from non-Jewish Middle Eastern community, but Neo Nazis, etc.
Do you feel social networking groups have the right to question Israel’s right to exist as legitimate social discourse?
Absolutely! Where they cross the line is when they spew hatred and promote violence, murder and genocide. This is happening on Facebook despite 10’s of thousands of complaints and reports.
Do you feel Facebook and other social networking sites are doing enough to monitor groups promoting hate speech?
Facebook has been negligent in this regard. As an organization it has completely abdicated its responsibility to its users. Youtube also needs to do more. They all have rules in place. They should draw the line when people are blatantly promoting hatred, violence, murder, and genocide. (as most of their own rules state) They need to be more efficient with their systems to monitor and remove this type of user-generated content.
How do you respond to those who claim your group is engaging in the exact some rhetoric and conduct that it criticizes?
We disagree. We do not promote hatred, violence, murder or genocide. We do not promote known terrorist entities. We do not misinform. We do not lie nor make up lies. We do not call people “apes and pigs” – like many of the Muslims do. We do not advocate the destruction of countries or of people. The list goes on and on.
Did you break the law when you hacked the Facebook group?
We absolutely broke no laws doing what we did. In fact, we operate with the advice of legal counsel and within the confines of the law.
There seems little doubt that Social Media is the new battle ground for social activism. Social Media is not only the new face of social activism, it is a the new face of ethnic and religious hatred and intolerance on all sides. As social networking groups such a Facebook have sprung up and attracted substantial membership more and more groups taking extreme positions on one subject or another have become popular. Proving this point is the fact that the “Israel Is Not a Country” Facebook group had over forty thousand members at the time it was hacked. Are social networking groups such as Facebook and Youtube doing enough to monitor groups and content advocating extreme political and religous positions that attempt to encourage or incite violence and hatred towards other groups? Are they simply encouraging legitimate social discourse? Contrary to popular belief there is no right of free speech on social netowrking sites. They are for the most part private entities not covered by the First Amendment. The sites have to the right to censor and remove material they deem objectionable. Where do we draw the line between incitement of hate and legitimate debate on religious, ethnic and political issues? Should ther even be a line? Many would argue that the JIDF encourages the same hateful rhetoric that it claims it fights against. Are they attempting to squash legitimate debate? Are they also promoting hate and intolerance? No one is safe. Let the discourse begin.