Facebook has restored the account of Yair Netanyahu, the eldest son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after it was temporarily suspended for “hate speech” over a series of posts targeting Muslims and Palestinians.
In one post from early this month, written in Hebrew, the 27-year-old wrote, “There will not be peace here until: 1. All the Jews leave the land of Israel. 2. All the Muslims leave the land of Israel. I prefer the second option.”
In another he wrote, “Do you know where there are no attacks, in Iceland and Japan. That’s because there are no Muslims populations.”
In a third post, he also called Palestinians “monsters” who should be “encouraged to immigrate” to Arab countries.
Facebook initially removed the posts from its platform, but then decided to suspend him for 24 hours after he reposted a screen grab showing the posts Facebook had deleted.
“Yair Netanyahu posted several posts which include hate speech - this clearly violates our community standards. Due to that, this content was removed from our platform as we would do for anyone posting similar content about any protected characteristic,” a Facebook spokesman told CNN. “Following this, Yair Netanyahu decided to share a screen shot of a removed post and called people to share it - which is the same as writing the hate speech all over again.”
Yair Netanyahu responded to the suspension in a tweet in Hebrew on Sunday stating, “the thought police of Facebook, the extreme progressive organization, has finally come after me.” He added that the world’s right wing needed to wake up, “The only way of expression that we have is in social media because the established media is controlled by the extreme left (in Israel as well as in America). At the moment, they are trying to shut our mouths in the only place where we have a right to express our opinion.”
He also accused Facebook of singling him out.
“Facebook has official pages for organization on behalf of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranian regime. There are also a huge number of pages that call for the destruction of Israel and killing Jews. There are thousands of violent and extreme posts by people on the left against me and my family including threats of physical violence and threats of murder. All of these are not against the rules of the community of Facebook. They are within freedom of expression.”
Facebook wouldn’t comment on Netanyahu’s allegations of specific threats. But on their community standards page, Facebook states, “We try to consider the language, context and details in order to distinguish casual statements from content that constitutes a credible threat to public or personal safety. We remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety.”
Facebook responded to Netanyahu’s accusation that he was blocked for criticizing the company, saying, “We want to emphasize that we never remove posts for criticizing the company and the claim that we are censoring criticism of the company on the platform is plainly untrue.”
Yair Netanyahu is no stranger to controversy. In January this year, an Israeli TV channel released a secret recording from 2015 that took place outside a strip club featuring a conversation between him and two friends that touched on subjects ranging from recent government business to prostitutes. Critics said it also contained exchanges that sounded worryingly like possible corruption.
In the tape, Yair Netanyahu could be heard demanding money from Ori Maimon – the son of Kobi Maimon, an Israeli gas tycoon.
“My father did a good deal for you, brother,” Yair Netanyahu is heard telling Ori. “You have to be good to me.” Laughter can then be heard on the recording.
Yair Netanyahu later apologized for the comments and said he was “under the influence of alcohol” when he made them.
The Prime Minister was forced to defend the gas deal in question, and his relationship with Kobi Maimon, who he said he had met only once. The Netanyahu family also released a statement denying Yair had any involvement in the deal and that there was no wrongdoing by the prime minister.
In another incident, in 2017, Yair Netanyahu posted, and then removed, a meme on Facebook targeting Jewish philanthropist George Soros, who supports progressive initiatives around the world, along with a number of the Prime Minister’s critics, which contained several images widely seen as anti-Semitic tropes.
White supremacist and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, praised Netanyahu’s post in a tweet saying, “Welcome to the club, Yair - absolutely amazing, wow, just wow.”
The Anti-Defamation League called the post dangerous and said that it contained “blatant anti-Semitic elements.”