YouTube’s Craven Capitulation

The reality that information is a weapon  of war, a tool of contention and conflict, is as old as the first time someone said, “He went that way,” and lied. Hold whatever finely nuanced position you like on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but unless you are an antisemitic rationalizer of antisemitism, or vastly uninformed, the fact that the Arab world, and more to the point, Palestinian society are riven with antisemitic hatred is indisputable. From the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem‘s close work for Adolf Hitler during the Second World War to the Hamas Charter to the kinds of reports and Palestinian-produced videos disseminated to the wider world by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the evidence is bountiful. Bountiful but not widely reported and distributed outside the Arab World. Why it is not will be yet one more ages-long question for European and democratic consciences.

Yesterday, under long pressure from Palestinian Authority backers, YouTube closed the PMW YouTube channel. The following message was sent to Elder of Ziyon by Itamar Marcus, director of  PMW.

For years there have been PA backers trying to get You Tube to close down the PMW video account by complaining that we are involved in hate speech. Now they succeeded. They complained to the administrators about a farewell video of a suicide terrorist from a few years ago who boasted he would drink the blood of Jews. You Tube sent us notice that this video is “violation of terms” by promoting hate speech and closed our entire account. Most of the hundreds of videos on our web site are not running.

Understand that YouTube was choosing to kill the messenger in this act. Here is one of the offending videos that YouTube cited as cause for its action in blaming PMW for promoting hate speech. There are scores of such videos at PMW cataloged in fifteen categories of offense, from sermons to songs to children’s programming to man-in-the-street interviews and interviews of academic, reaching back to 1997.

As of late last night, after a vigorous communication campaign, YouTube has reinstated the PMW channel and at least some of the “offending” videos. One has to wonder, though, into the future, about the commitment of YouTube and other internet media to the free flow of information. Was YouTube seriously unable to distinguish between a party that makes disturbing information available to the public, for its information and understanding, and the party that generates the disturbing material – between the reporter and the reported on? Did YouTube expect the public to believe that YouTube thought that it was Palestinian Media Watch that was engaging in hate speech, and not the producers of the videos that espouse the hate? Is YouTube so craven in the face of the world’s moral challenges, that it fled from exercising the intellectual and moral faculty to distinguish between those who express hate and those who make it known in order to condemn it?

AJA

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