Horrid Media Bias: The Dangerous Dishonesty Of The Independent’s Indy100

Indy100 seems like The Independent’s attempt to appeal to the younger, trendier set. It bills itself as “Seriously addictive news,” and seems to use headlines of a more “link-baity” nature.

These Palestinians went to prison because of Facebook posts cries out this headline of theirs from yesterday. And reading that, you’d be forgiven for thinking these palestinians had somehow been treated really unfairly.

Heck, the entire article – written by one Narjas Zatat – continues in the same vein, demonizing Israel at every turn.

The appointment of ultra-nationalist politician Avigdor Lieberman as Israel’s new defence chief – who had once said his enemies ought to be “beheaded” – has added to fears that the Israeli government is becoming increasingly right-wing.

In the last few months Israel has arrested 19 journalists for perceived ‘incitement’ charges – a vague law which sees Palestinians arrested for allegedly ‘stirring up’ violence against Israelis, even though the latter group remains exempt from such charges.

Now the law appears to have extended to social media, after a wave of arrests has seen Palestinian citizens jailed for status updates on the social media network.

According to the Palestinian Information Center, more than 150 arrests took place between October 2015 and February of this year for ‘incitement’ through social media, despite there being no legal precedence for such a charge online.

Indy100 spoke to Palestinian lawyer and director Mahmoud Hassan, who works for Jerusalem- based legal advice organisation Addameer:

Generally, individuals who are arrested on grounds of social media posts are charged with incitement. In the last few months, hundreds of people have been arrested in the West Bank and Jerusalem on grounds of posts to which they were attributed, including on Facebook. Israel surveils Palestinians specifically, after which they are arrested for alleged incitement

Defenders of the measures say that posts which incite or praise violence such as the recent spate of knife and bus attacks in the past few months should rightly be punished – as they are in several other countries, including the UK, under hate speech laws.

But as Hassan pointed out, several recent examples do not seem to warrant arrest or detention – especially when there is no law on the books specifically relating to social media posts.

Indy100 then goes into specific examples. Let’s have a closer look at some of them to see just how dishonest this piece truly is.

Dareen Tatour

Indy100 writes:

dareen tatourDareen was arrested in October after writing a poem about the occupation, which made the rounds on social media. She spent three months in prison and was placed under house arrest in January.

Sounds benign. But according to the ultra-lefist (and some might say anti-Israel) website 972 Mag, the indictment was partly based on this poem entitled Resist my people, resist them.

972 Mag adds:

Another main clause in the indictment relates to a news item, cited in a post on Tatour’s Facebook page, according to which “The Islamic Jihad movement calls for continuing the Intifada all over the [West] Bank…” The same post calls for a “comprehensive intifada.”

Supporting terrorism – not so benign.

Tamara Abu Laban

Indy100 writes:

She was arrested for posting “forgive me” on Facebook. Israeli authorities thought she was going to commit a crime. After forcing her to pay almost £300 for bail, she was placed under house arrest and then fined an additional £1,770.

I cannot find another report on this in the Israeli press. But the Camera blog provides some needed context in response the Huffington Post hit-pieced linked above:

No context is provided for why Israeli security would interpret the social media post that way. In fact, deadly attacks have been carried out by terrorists who post about them in advance.

Majd Yousef Atwan

Indy100 writes:

majd yousef atwanMajd, a beauty student, was arrested and spent 45 days in jail after she posted a status criticising the state’s reaction in light of the April attacks. Upon her release, she was fined approximately £530.

This is absolutely false. She posted praise for a terror attack.

Palestinian beautician Majd Atwan, 22, was sentenced May 9 in an Israeli court to 45 days imprisonment and fined 3,000 shekels ($775) for praising a recent bus bombing in Jerusalem. “The news of 20 settlers injured is nice,” she wrote on Facebook.

Omar al-Shalabi

Here, indy100 quotes an article on al-Monitor written by a palestinian in Ramallah.

Omar was arrested and sentenced on May 12th to nine months in prison for posting about the kidnap and murder of Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir by Israeli settlers on his personal Facebook account.

Authorities said that they feared retaliatory attacks on settlers – but al-Shalabi’s family told al-Monitor they think his arrest was a pretext as he is an active Fatah member.

Again, this is deliberately misleading. The Times of Israel – which cannot be excused of being a right-wing site – paints a better picture of the dangerous incitement al-Shalabi was posting.

The indictment against him referenced 10 Facebook statuses written between July and October of last year, at a time of heightened tensions in the capital, in which he hailed terrorists for various attacks.

Last October, following an assassination attempt on Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick, Shalabi wrote that Glick was in serious condition, and wished him “hell and bad fate.”

A month later, on the day after Border Police officer Jedan Assad and 17-year-old Shalom Aharon Badani were killed in a car-ramming attack, Shalabi wrote: “In Jerusalem there are actions, not words. May God have mercy on the brave shahid [martyr] Ibrahim Akary and may he enter heaven.”

In another instance, he wrote: “Children of Jerusalem, be angered and continue on the path of despair and conflict that will simmer and purify Jerusalem and al-Aqsa from the defilement of the bastard Jews.”

Judge Eitan Kornhauser described the online posts as “grave incitement, including praise of heinous murderers and words of encouragement to carry out similar actions.”

The judge also noted the explosive political situation and the large exposure the posts received. At the time, Shalabi had over 5,000 friends and 775 followers.

“Sharp and clear boundaries of penalties must be set, which will serve as a warning to everyone armed with a keyboard,” the judge wrote.

By demonizing Israel and minimizing the actual incitement for which these people were jailed, indy100 is also increasing hatred for Israel.

Thanks to I Support Israel on Twitter for drawing my attention to this hit piece.

Update: Not surprisingly, Narjas Zatat, the author of the piece, is vehemently anti-Israel and considers Israeli actions as terrorism – while justifying palestinian terrorism!
















If The Independent want to be taken seriously, they need to employ real journalists – not propagandists like this.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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