Monitoring Incitement and Racism Online

10 July 2014

In the wake of the murders of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah, and Muhammed Abu Khdeir, the NIF-sponsored Coalition against Racism has been systematically monitoring racism and incitement online. The Coalition includes Israel’s leading Palestinian-Israeli civil rights groups, as well as the Israel Religious Action Center (Reform) and other NIF-funded organizations.

The findings of the first round of analysis are deeply worrying. A majority of the monitored social media talkbacks featured calls for revenge for the murders of the three Israelis; nearly one half called for revoking the citizenship of Palestinian Israelis who had participated in riots; and a quarter called for a boycott of Arab businesses. Only 6% called for restraint and moderation.

Advocate Nidal Othman, Chair of the Coalition against Racism, said: “Violent discourse on the Internet should concern us all and set off a red warning light first and foremost among the decision-makers in the government. The influence of discourse on social media is known to everyone and there is no doubt that it has a far-reaching impact on the reality on the ground. We call on politicians and senior government figures and public figures from the left and right to make a clear call against violence and incitement and, if necessary, to open criminal proceedings.”

The government has taken some action on the issue. The Attorney General has ordered an investigation be opened regarding some of the pages calling for revenge attacks, while Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni has opened an emergency hotline for people to report incitement. The Coalition against Racism project will continue over the coming weeks, and its findings will be shared with the Israeli public.

NIF gave a special grant to help fund the Coalition against Racism project.