Jews for Palestinian Right of Return to Quora: Stop Silencing Palestinians
On June 20, 2019, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return began circulating a petition on Change.org with the headline Tell Quora: Stop Banning Palestinian Voices — Reinstate Dr. Rima Najjar Now!
The petition goes beyond Quora and addresses the issue that political opinion should be protected on social media organizations posing as public platforms. Several other organizations that sponsored the petition (see below) also recognize that my battle with Quora has tremendous potential for educating people and getting social media companies like Quora to listen. Following is the petition wording:
U.S. question-and-answer website Quora has permanently banned Palestinian scholar-activist Dr. Rima Najjar for exposing, through her well-researched publications on the Quora site, the settler-colonial ideology of Zionism and the Israeli apartheid state. We demand Quora immediately reinstate Dr. Najjar, and respect free speech for human rights throughout historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.
Co-sponsors: Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, American Muslims for Palestine, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Labor for Palestine, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN)
Quora recently and permanently banned Palestinian scholar and activist Dr. Rima Najjar. Although the pretext for the ban was that Dr. Najjar violated the site’s “Be Nice, Be respectful” policy, the real reason is that she has rigorously, and with great clarity and insight, explained how Zionism is a racist settler-colonial ideology and the Israeli regime an apartheid state.
Quora not only shut down Dr. Najjar’s account, but also erased from her profile hundreds of well-informed answers she had previously posted on Palestine and Zionism, answers it did not even claim violated any Quora policy.
Quora’s deletion of the content from Dr. Najjar’s profile appears to be a deliberate targeting of the content itself; Quora did not delete the content of Jewish activist Dr. Benay Blend, who was also permanently banned from the site after she posted an article of Dr. Najjar’s.
Meanwhile, pro-Israel advocates on Quora repeatedly trolled Dr. Najjar with vindictive personal attacks, often in flagrant violation of the “Be Nice” policy, but the site’s moderators did not ban them.
This double-standard goes beyond Dr. Najjar’s case. Rather, it reflects mainstream suppression of indigenous narratives, histories, and knowledge in favor of the propaganda of the colonizer — in Palestine and globally.
Dr. Najjar plans to sue the site. Among her demands are that Quora reinstate her content, reinstate her account and that of Dr. Benay Blend, publicly affirm that opposition to Zionism is not “hate speech,” and take steps to preempt discriminatory harassment of Quora users because of their national origin or advocacy on behalf of particular marginalized groups. She is also demanding Quora acknowledge that the underlying algorithms the site uses to flag violations, far from being value-neutral, reflect racist biases, and that Quora take real steps at reform.
As Dr. Najjar explains, “Today, with the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ the Trump administration is implementing in order to liquidate Palestinian national claims, it is more important than ever to free Palestine speech in order to free Palestine.”
We stand with her words, and call on Quora to immediately make good on all of Dr. Najjar’s demands.
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.