Will Google Bow To Israeli Pressure To Censor Palestinian ‘Inflammatory’ Videos On YouTube?

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely met with Google’s Director of Public Policy, Jennifer Oztzistzki, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and discussed censorship of particular videos coming from the Palestinian region.

In the meeting held at Google’s Silicon Valley Offices, Hotovely asked the two officials regarding censorship of videos that are considered “inflammatory” or promoting violence against the Israelis.

She said that she received a comprehensive review mechanism for companies to regulate films, videos, and other media that promote violence. She claimed that some “incitement videos” encourage children to stab people. “The attacks daily in Israel are the result of youths and children incited by the education system and the social networks, this is a daily war of incitement,” Hotovely said.

This Google censorship measure being taken by the Israeli government comes amid the escalating conflict in Palestine. Videos that depict the Israeli soldiers and officials’ brutal, execution-style killing of Palestinians have been surfacing online. In addition, the videos highlight the suffering of the Palestinian people in a country that is illegally occupied by Israel.

Newspaper Maariv said that Hotovely has agreed to work with Google and YouTube to establish a “joint working mechanism” to censor videos that incite violence. The collaborative work would include all parties in an effort to monitor published materials online and censor them if necessary.

Unfortunately, the agreement may have serious implications as far as freedom of the press is concerned.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a London-based newspaper, said that the agreement could prevent civilians from posting any videos on social media about the other side of the story.

Even before the meeting between Hotovely and other Google and YouTube officials took place, Israel has been censoring the news that comes out of Palestine.

All journalists who report within the Occupied Palestinian Territories are required to register with the Israeli Military. In addition, any video footage or material recorded inside the territories has to pass through Israel’s Military Censorship office before it is released.

However, with the recent advances in technology and the possibilities offered by the Internet, Palestinian civilians are able to voice their side of the story through videos posted on social media. The Israeli government has had no control over these videos, and the country’s foreign minister has seemingly decided to confer with Google’s officials about the issue.

In October, Israel said in an announcement that videos on social media sites like YouTube and Facebook have been encouraging violent behavior among the public.

The announcement cited the death of four Israelis in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, two Palestinian individuals shot dead, and a number of injuries resulting from the continuous clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces.

Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, disclosed a portion of the letter that was sent to Google Israel about the videos.

“The videos depict recent terror attacks, praise the assailants and present Jews and Israelis in a hateful and racist manner, and since their publishing, three more attacks have taken place so far,” the letter mentioned.

Meanwhile, a Facebook spokeswoman said that the company’s goal is to make sure people feel safe when using their website. As a result, content that encourages “violence, direct threats, terrorism, or hate speech” have no place on Facebook.

However, there are no details on whether or not Israel has contacted Facebook about the censorship issue.

In addition, the social media spokesperson said that Facebook has reporting tools that users can use to take down any video that they consider inappropriate.

There are no further details on how Israel, Google and YouTube will carry out their campaign to censor “inflammatory” videos.

[Photo by Handout/Getty Images; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]