I frequently hear this when I post about Palestine on Facebook: “It is disconcerting how little Americans know about the issues of Palestinians in colonized lands.”
Unfortunately, that’s what happens when “a narrative” takes the place of reality.
The Zionist narrative continues to bulldoze Palestinian roots even though they are deeply-embedded in the soil of Palestine and have long preceded the advent of Zionist settler-colonialism before the First World War.
The bulldozer looms large, both metaphorically and literally, as a tool in Israel’s crimes of altering the Palestinian landscape — from erasing the remains of entire depopulated villages to demolishing Palestinian homes to mowing down the body of a young American activist.
The worst of it is how the corporate world in the form of social and mainstream media are deployed to do the bulldozing in its metaphorical sense.
Rachel Corrie, for example, according to Wikipedia, “was killed by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) armored bulldozer in a combat zone in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, under contested circumstances during the height of the second Palestinian intifada.”
If you click on the link to the “second Palestinian intifada,” you will find, the following garbage:
The Second Intifada (Hebrew: האינתיפאדה השנייה Ha-Intifāda ha-Shniya), also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada (Arabic: انتفاضة الأقصى Intifāḍat al-ʾAqṣā), was a period of intensified Israeli–Palestinian violence, which Palestinians describe as an uprising against Israel, while Israelis consider it a prolonged terror campaign perpetuated by the Palestinian National Authority and various Palestinian militant groups.
In the Wikipedia passages above, “Combat zone,” “contested circumstances” and “intensified violence” are all phrases meant to deceive the reader. Notice how “Palestinians” regard the second intifada vaguely and briefly as “an uprising against Israel” and how precisely “Israelis” describe that same Palestinian uprising, whose Arabic term “intifada” has entered the English language (nevertheless, Wikepedia gives us the Hebrew for it first): “terror campaign.”
The unsuspecting average reader, American or otherwise, who happens to come upon these Wikepedia entries is being served a story that portrays spurious Zionist claims meant to advance a deceptive “narrative.”
It places the Zionist Jewish colonial domination and repression of Palestinians by Israel and theft of their land on a par with the historical claims of the indigenous Palestinians. The Palestinian struggle for liberation thus becomes a “conflict”, their resistance and revolution becomes “terror.”
In my view, this concerted activity on Wikipedia is dangerous, because it is motivated by hate for the very existence of Palestinians in their own homeland and a desire to erase their history as well as their current reality as an oppressed people.
A couple of days ago, the Palestinian writer and activist Susan Abulhawa posted the following on her Facebook page:
for some reason, i went down a rabbit hole on wikipedia and ended up making an edit and protesting the locking of Rasmea Odeh’s page. see below:
On the Afula page, for the following sentence:
“The modern name may be derived from the name of this village, possibly originating in the Canaanite-Hebrew root ‘’ofel’’ (“fortress tower”)”
ME: There’s no such thing as a “Canaanite-Hebrew” root. Canaanite language was a precursor to many languages, including Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, and others. It’s like saying “Latin-English” root. Adding the word “Hebrew” is politically motivated semantics to lay Israeli or Jewish claim to a village that had nothing to do with either. Please stop weaponizing wikipedia to spin history toward political ends.
On Rachel Corrie’s page, I reinserted the following, which they had apparently removed: “Israel’s assertion that the soldier operating a massive home crushing bulldozer in a heavily populated area could not see people in bright orange vests, waving their arms and calling through megaphones, raises other questions. For example, why would Israel send lethal machinery into civilian neighborhoods when its operators cannot see what lay in front of them?”
For Rasmea’s page, i couldn’t edit, but sent this reason for requesting access:
ME: It’s clear that so much of the content on wikipedia pertaining to Palestinians seems to be written by pro-Israeli admins and editors, including this page. Rasmea Odeh is presented as a terrorist and fraud in the opening section of her page. This is certainly the view held by those in power, as is the case with all those who resist oppression. The fact that she was tortured is a monumentally important component of her confession to the original charges and should not be omitted from the summary narrative. In fact, it is well-documented that all Palestinian prisoners are tortured and Israel remained the only country in the world where torture was actually legal until 1999, when it changed its law in words only.
The Wikipedia hatchet job on Rasmea Odeh that Abulhawa notes above is a widespread phenomenon not only on Wikipedia. It touches a wide spectrum of Palestinian figures and issues.
Take for example the disgraceful opinion Newsweek published on Edward Said on 7/7/20, shortly after the magazine hired Josh Hammer as its editor, who had “spent years stoking anti-Palestinian sentiment and is now fighting Black Lives Matter.”
It took several months and a lot of maneuvering before Newsweek published a corrective opinion on the great man by Khaled A. Beydoun, a law professor at Wayne State University and author of the critically acclaimed American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear.
If media corporations don’t have an in-house Zionist like Hammer to do their dirty work, there are plenty of Jewish organizations like Lawfare Project, Zachor and Shurat Ha-Din that spend a lot of money on spreading disinformation on Palestine and putting pressure on various platforms from Zoom to Instagram to YouTube to Twitter to Facebook to bulldoze Palestinian reality.
Leila Khaled, another Palestinian woman who resisted oppression, has now run afoul of Facebook “standards on dangerous individuals.” Facebook is one of several major Silicon Valley companies that shut down a webinar with Leila Khaled at San Francisco State University (SFSU).
In the wake of mass deleting all posts related to the SFSU webinar with Leila Khaled, including mine, Facebook saw fit to restrict my account for posting the profile picture of Marian Larsen, a Facebook friend.
In that profile picture, as you can see below, the framed picture of Laila Khaled appears on the wall along with Marian’s image. The punishment (restricted from posting for 24 hours) meted to me by Facebook was not for posting Marian’s profile picture, which continues to be displayed on Marian’s account. It appears to be related to the text I included in the post, a quotation by Sarah Irving in Leila Khaled, Icon of Palestinian Liberation, Pluto Press, London 2012:
Leila Khaled’s “public image has been almost entirely dictated by her defining hijackings of 1969 and 1970 [and membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which the U.S. put on its list of “terror” organizations]. Since then she has become a mother, teacher, campaigner, a member of the Palestinian National Council and a leader in the General Union of Palestinian Women. Like other militants and those labeled ‘terrorists’ — from Northern Ireland to Nicaragua — she has moved from the armed struggle to the political arena. The two hijackings gained her an icon status.”
When Facebook went around mass deleting posts regarding the SFSU webinar, they cited the community standard they were using as follows:
Our standards on dangerous individuals and organizations
We don’t allow symbols, praise or support of dangerous individuals or organizations on Facebook.
We define dangerous as things like:
. Terrorist activity
. Organized hate or violence
. Mass or serial murder
. Human trafficking
. Criminal or harmful activity
When I received the notification that my account was being restricted for 24 hours because of my post of Marian Larsen’s profile picture, I tried to explain to Facebook that Leila Khaled, the Palestinian resistance icon, now in her seventies and living in Jordan, is not “dangerous” in the sense their standards define the term, nor even in the way the US government defines it.
Khaled is a member of the Political Bureau of the Palestine Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the second largest of the groups forming the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). She is not a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” (or SDGT), which is the US Government designation for individuals. To clarify, Ismail Haniyeh, for example, is labelled SDGT by the US Government and Hamas is labeled as a Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).
Khaled has in the past 10 years spoken in South Africa, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Turkey and the Philippines. But Facebook almost instantly let me know that my objection “had been reviewed” and my post was found in violation.
The question is, how can we make Facebook understand that it is groups like Lawfare Project, Zachor and Shurat Ha-Din that are dangerous? How can we help Facebook define “dangerous” as in:
. Organized hate against Palestinian existence as a people in their own homeland?
Let’s not forget, as CJ Werleman says in The Silencing of Palestinian and Kashmiri Voices on Social Media, that “anti-democratic and authoritarian governments go to great lengths to limit or ban their citizens’ access to platforms that allow the sharing of information so freely. They know better than anyone else that, without social media, the repressed remain invisible and unheard.”
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 and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.