Facebook, we need to talk!

A Message from South Bay Jewish Voice for Peace.

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Dear Friends of South Bay Jewish Voice for Peace

Please read the following letter that Jewish Voice for Peace Deputy Director Rabbi Allisa Wise sent to the national JVP lists a few days ago.  Then click on the link to sign your name to the global petition to tell Facebook that the word “Zionist” is not the same as “Jew” and “anti-Zionist” is not the same as “antisemitic”.  They have heard from leaders of major organizations that support that stance and now they need to hear from us before a decision is made, possibly in the month of February. We cannot let posts or organizations that criticize Zionist actions be censored because they are defined as antisemitic.  See the letter and on the petition to see some hypothetical examples of posts that could be censored if this decision is made.

After you sign the petition, please share widely!  If you’re not yet a JVP member, please consider clicking at the very bottom of the email to join and support efforts for justice in Israel/Palestine and in our own country.

In solidarity,
Wendy Greenfield and the SBJVP Team

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Right now, Facebook is weighing a change to its hate speech policy – but not one that would make anyone safer. The social media giant is considering labeling “Zionist” a proxy for “Jew” or “Israeli,” making it a protected category. Under this policy, attempts to hold the state of Israel accountable could be labeled as hate speech and removed from the platform.

This change would deprive Palestinians of a critical venue for expressing their political viewpoints to the world, chill efforts to hold the Israeli government accountable, and undermine the fight to dismantle antisemitism. We have to stop this in its tracks.

Today, together with 23 partner organizations, we’re launching an international campaign to tell Facebook that we need the freedom to talk about Zionists and Zionism – as Jews, as Palestinians, and as anyone joining the struggle for justice and equality for all in Palestine/Israel. Initial signers come from across the globe and include politicians and poets, human rights defenders and movie stars. From Hanan Ashrawi to Karol Cariola, from Wallace Shawn and Peter Gabriel to Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler, from Miriam Margolyes to Dr. Cornel West, the list is growing fast.Tell Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg that we need to talk: Adding the word “Zionist” as a protected category in Facebook’s hate speech policy only serves to build more walls to keep us apart.

Just a few weeks ago, we watched in horror as white nationalists bearing antisemitic slogans overran the U.S. Capitol. Antisemitism is real, and we are committed to dismantling it, along with the entire machinery of division and fear used to keep us isolated and alone. But Facebook’s proposed policy would entrench antisemitism, not dismantle it. In falsely equating all Jewish people with the state of Israel, Facebook plays into dangerous stereotypes – and obscures the mechanics of real antisemitism.

Tell Facebook, we need to talk: Restricting the use of the word “Zionist” is the wrong solution to a real problem.

As Judith Butler wrote to you in December, this move by Facebook is part of a global effort by the Israeli government and its supporters “to silence legitimate speech and prevent Palestinians and their allies from holding the Israeli government accountable for its unjust policies of dispossession, occupation, disenfranchisement, and incarceration.” But social media companies should give us a platform to hold governments accountable, not shield state power from legitimate critique.Facebook shouldn’t deprive Palestinians of a critical venue for talking about their daily lives, experiences, and political viewpoints. Tell Facebook now: We need to talk!

Anti-Palestinian activists want to control the use of the word “Zionist” because they want to keep us isolated and apart. Their fear is a testament to the power of movement building, communication, and connection. But we won’t let them silence us. Let’s keep this conversation going. 

Rabbi Alissa Wise
Deputy Director

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