The censorship of recent clashes in Palestinian territories by media giants, social media in specific, has been blamed by critics.
In an analysis conducted by a researcher and associate Professor at the university of Arizona, opinion articles of two American newspapers and two other weekly journals, all included in mainstream media, in the past half a century was analyzed.
Maha Nassar’s research analyzed The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Republic and The Nation over the fifty years leading to 2019. The outcome says “Editorial boards and columnists seem to have been quite consumed with talking about the Palestinians, often in condescending and even racist ways – yet they somehow did not feel the need to hear much from Palestinians themselves.”
Like many other precedents, the study shows that attempts to wipe the Palestinian viewpoints out of mainstream media keeps accelerating. Furthermore, there seems to be a plan for dehumanization of Palestinians while the brutality in Israeli conduct taken for granted.
The sad story is that all signs prove that this unequal status quo has not only stayed untouched, but worsened. Social media has been a lifeline for countless people who wish to bring attention to issues and struggles that have been forgotten or marginalized by mass media in the past years.
Tech giants, however, are also deliberately planning to suffocate Palestinian voices. This means the, not surprisingly, the exclusion of Palestinian voice was also extended to social media.
A recent example occurred last April when Zoom, YouTube, and Facebook banned a San Francisco State University the online scholarly “Whose Narratives? What Free Speech for Palestine?” Anti-apartheid campaigners from all over the world were expected to attend, including Palestinian resistance figure Leila Khaled and Ronnie Kasrils from South Africa.
Owing to the expected presence of Leila Khaled, the platforms have opted to exclude the event from their channels. The excuse was that Khaled was a US-designated terrorist” due to his membership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The statement put forward by the social media giants is erroneous, as various legal scholars have consistently said. It not only disregards all existing legal precedents and unfairly alleges US rule offences, but it also constitutes an assault on freedom of scholars to express themselves.
Social media firms have mostly sided and partnered with power structures in the US neoliberal and colonial institutions. Furthermore, they collaborated with the US Department of Defense on monitoring and big data assessment.
Academic societies by no means impartial gatekeepers in this field: by ceding pedagogical programming to tech giants and reinforcing anti-Palestinian propaganda, they are involved in the vicious process of erasure of Palestinian voice.
The Last Blow
Sheikh Jarrah residents in East Jerusalem are facing immediate forced displacement from their homes, as part of Israel‘s continuing ethnic cleansing of Palestine. They are also facing brutal violence approved and encouraged by Israeli state.
During the recent clashes, hundreds of Palestinians were injured in one Friday with Israeli police utilizing rubber bullets and stun grenades against protesters in the Al-Aqsa mosque. Israeli police forbid medical services for the wounded and dozens lost their eyes.
The mainstream media’s reaction to the recent violence against Palestinian people was, not surprisingly, centered on whitewashing Israel on the pretext that Israel is at war with its foes inside the cities. Changing the whole story, outlets like CNN and Reuters highlighted the Israeli narration of war while the Palestinian side was censored.
The long collusion between Israel and social media platforms in policing and repressing Palestinian posts and accounts, this new phase of social media suppression of Palestinian content regarding Sheikh Jarrah is part of a broader trend of censorship. Instagram claimed that the new erasures is due to a global technological problem.
Likewise, Twitter said that the suspension of Palestinian writer Mariam Barghouti’s account, which was later restored after a massive social media backlash, was an “accident.” The targeted re-occurrence of such removals rejects the possibility of their “accidental nature.”
And now, multiple decade after Edward Said, the renowned anti-colonial critic, blasted US media’s incessant attempt of silence the Palestinian voice, the social media takes the same step. No matter where or how, the power structure in the Unites States, under the influence Zionism lobby, blocks Palestinians the “permission to narrate” their own stories.