Can Twitter and Facebook Curb Palestinian Terror?

Social media have carried a raft of posts inciting Palestinians to violence against Israel, and several perpetrators of recent attacks are known to have received and promoted such propaganda. Micah Lakin Avni, whose father Richard Lakin was shot and stabbed by terrorists on a Jerusalem bus last month, believes something can be done about the problem:

The young men who boarded the bus that day intent on murdering my seventy-six-year-old father did not make their decision in a vacuum. One was a regular on Facebook, where he had already posted a “will for any martyr.” Very likely, they made use of one of the thousands of posts, manuals, and instructional videos circulating in Palestinian society these last few weeks, like the image, shared by thousands on Facebook, showing an anatomical chart of the human body with advice on where to stab for maximal damage.

Sickeningly, my father, too, became a viral hit on Palestinian social media: hours after he was shot and stabbed, a video re-enactment of the attack was posted online celebrating the gruesome incident and calling on more young Palestinians to go out and murder Jews. Such images, YouTube videos, and comments have become a regular feature on social media after every attack. . . .

Just as it is universally recognized that shouting fire in a crowded theater is dangerous and should be prohibited, so, too, must we now recognize that rampant online incitement is a danger that must be reckoned with immediately, before more innocent people end up as victims.

One immediate solution is to remove blatant incitement without waiting for formal complaints—it’s one thing to express a political opinion, even one that supports violent measures, and another to publish a how-to chart designed to train and recruit future terrorists. . . . I believe that any truly successful effort to curb the culture of hate on social media must come from the companies themselves. . . . Companies can and must work harder—using all the tools at their disposal—to create an online culture that does not tolerate violence and hate.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Censorship, Freedom of Speech, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian terror, Social media


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus