Israel Asks Facebook to Remove Page Calling for Third Palestinian Intifada

Israel asked Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to remove a page that it says is supported by 230,000 “friends” that calls for a Palestinian intifada beginning on May 15.

The page includes remarks and movie clips that call for the killing of Israelis and Jews and the “liberating” of Jerusalem and of Palestine through acts of violence, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein wrote in a letter e- mailed to media yesterday.

“As Facebook’s CEO and founder you are obviously aware of the site’s great potential to rally the masses around good causes, and we are all thankful for that,” Edelstein said. “However, such potential comes hand in hand with the ability to cause great harm such as in the case of the wild incitement displayed on the above-mentioned page.”

Social media and other online information sources have taken center stage in uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya, with participants using Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to spread news and coordinate protests.

“While some kinds of comments and content may be upsetting for someone -­ criticism of a certain culture, country, religion, lifestyle, or political ideology, for example -- that alone is not a reason to remove the discussion,” Debbie Frost, a spokeswoman for Facebook, said in an e-mailed statement.

“We strongly believe that Facebook users have the ability to express their opinions, and we don’t typically take down content, groups or Pages that speak out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas,” she said.

Edelstein’s statement letter came on the same day that a bomb blast killed one person in Jerusalem and wounded at least 30 others. An Israeli cabinet minister blamed Palestinians for the attack.

Violence between Israel and the Islamic militant Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip has also escalated. A rocket launched from Gaza injured an Israeli man yesterday in the southern city of Beersheba. At least seven Palestinians were killed this week, including several civilians, in what Israel said were attacks aimed at stopping rocket fire.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alisa Odenheimer in Jerusalem at aodenheimer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg; Thomas Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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