Looks like the number of Democracies in the Middle East is dwindling …

Twitter went dark in Turkey, just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “wipe out” the social network which, along with others, was highlighting corruption allegations against his inner circle.


Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff


Turkey blocks Twitter after PM’s threat to ‘wipe out’ service 

After recordings published on social media network reveal illegal schemes between Erdogan and his son, authorities ‘technically blocked access to Twitter’.


Twitter went dark in Turkey, just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “wipe out” the social network which, along with others, was highlighting corruption allegations against his inner circle.

The state-run Anatolia news agency said authorities “technically blocked access to Twitter” because the service had ignored various Turkish court orders to remove some links deemed illegal.

Twitter responded by saying on its official @policy feed that Turks could get around the block by tweeting through mobile telephone text services.

In early reaction, the EU commissioner for digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, tweeted that the block in Turkey “is groundless, pointless, cowardly”.

She added that the “Turkish people and international community will see this as censorship. It is.”

The restriction of access to Twitter came after Erdogan told a rally drumming up support for March 30 local elections that he would eradicate Twitter access in the country.

“We will wipe out Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says,” he said.

Turkish PM Erdogan (Photo: AP)
Turkish PM Erdogan (Photo: AP)

Erdogan’s office said in a statement that Twitter had remained “indifferent” to Turkish court rulings demanding “some links” be removed, and that the premier therefore had turned his attention to the matter.

The website for the country’s telecommunications authority (TIB) turned up four separate court rulings referencing “twitter.com”.

One of them said: “The protection measure has been taken for this website (twitter.com) according to the decision… of the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office and has been implemented by the TIB.”

Anatolia ran a report saying a Twitter block was the only solution to “address the unjust treatment of our citizens”.

Graft allegations tweeted

Erdogan, Turkey’s charismatic and increasingly autocratic leader since 2003, has come under mounting pressure since audio recordings spread across social media that appeared to put him at the heart of a major corruption scandal.

Recordings include an apparent discussion between Erdogan and his son about hiding money, as well as others in which he appears to be interfering in business deals, court cases and media coverage.

Some of the most damaging information has come from a Twitter account under the name Haramzadeler (“Sons of Thieves”), which appears to have access to a huge trove of secret documents and police wiretaps linked to the investigation.

Erdogan has dismissed most of the recordings as “vile” fakes concocted by his rivals, and threatened to ban YouTube and Facebook after crucial local elections on March 30.

“This has nothing to do with freedoms. Freedom does not mean the right to intrude on someone’s privacy, or to pass the state’s secrets to the international arena,” Erdogan said on Thursday.

The prime minister is openly suspicious of the Internet, and last year called Twitter a “menace” for helping organize mass anti-government protests.

A vast corruption probe launched in December saw dozens of people rounded up, including close business and political allies of the prime minister.

The Turkish strongman has accused associates of a former staunch ally – US-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen – of being behind the graft probe that claimed the scalps of four ministers.

Gulen has denied any involvement.

Turkey recently tightened government control of the Internet and the judiciary, generating criticism from rights groups.

The country, which has more than 10 million Twitter users, has seen access to thousands of sites blocked in recent years.

YouTube was banned for two years up to 2010 because of material deemed insulting to the country’s revered founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The Internet Publishers Association, a body representing online and media companies, said the move to block Twitter was an attempt to “destroy freedom of expression”.

“The prime minister having the power to shut down Twitter will be the confirmation of dictatorship,” it said in a statement published by local media.



Perhaps prison is the only solution for these hateful soldiers ….


Only months after he was supposedly “reprimanded” for his conduct on social media, Israeli army Golani Brigade soldier Osher Maman is again publicly disseminating racist and violent material including outright calls to murder Palestinians.

*The response to the ‘reprimand….

Showing the “pretty face of the IDF”: An image of himself Osher Maman posted this week. (Instagram)


“Reprimanded” Israeli soldier still posting violent, racist material on Instagram

Posted to Osher Maman’s Instagram account: flag of the violent anti-Arab group Kach. (Instagram)


He’s back.

Only months after he was supposedly “reprimanded” for his conduct on social media, Israeli army Golani Brigade soldier Osher Maman is again publicly disseminating racist and violent material including outright calls to murder Palestinians.

This comes as Israel has launched yet another effort to control its soldiers’ often embarrassing online image.

Maman’s latest antics include the posting the above image to his account on the photosharing website Instagram. It shows a man – apparently Maman himself attempting to disguise his identity – holding the flag of the racist anti-Palestinian organization Kach (also known as Kahane Chai).

Kach is banned even in Israel and is considered a “terrorist” organization by the United States, Canada and the European Union. The flag is also used by the Kahanist anti-Arab group the Jewish Defense League (JDL).

In comments accompanying the photo, Maman indicates his awareness and approval of the symbol, identifying it as belonging to the JDL.

Stoned, naked, (and still) armed and dangerous

Last February, in “Stoned, naked, armed and dangerous: more disturbing images from an Israeli soldier’s Instagram,” I exposed Maman – a troubled Florida youth who tried to turn his life around by joining the Israeli army – posting pictures of himself naked, using drugs and misusing weapons.

Maman also expressed deeply racist and even genocidal views towards Palestinians and Arabs, tweeting at one point, “Just took an Arab out… Whataa feeling.”

This led the Israeli army to “reprimand” him. Yet Maman’s recidivism indicates at the very least that despite its efforts to stop soldiers posting embarrassing material revealing their true feelings about the Palestinians they rule by military force, the Israeli army is unable or unwilling to do so.

Call to murder

Incitement to kill Palestinians, even if prison is the consequence. (Facebook)


On 13 November, Maman also shared the above image on his Facebook page which includes outright incitement to murder Palestinians. In Hebrew it states:

Soldier! Stones and Molotov cocktails can kill you! Do you feel a threat to your life? Raise your weapon and give the murderer a bullet in the head. You may go to prison, but at least you’ll be alive.

In addition to inciting killings of Palestinians, this message gives the false impression that Israeli soldiers are likely to pay a price for murder. There’s little evidence of that, as Israeli soldiers who murder Palestinians enjoy near total impunity.

Maman shared this image from a Facebook group with the Hebrew name “I’m Jewish and proud,” in which other racist and violent material is passed around by people presenting as soldiers, members of the Israeli police, or their supporters.

For example, another item posted in that group (though not shared by Maman) is this photo apparently showing a group of Israeli soldiers burning Palestinian flags. It received almost 4,000 “Likes” and dozens of approving, frequently racist, comments.

Israeli soldiers burn Palestinian flags. (Facebook)


Failed efforts to control social media use

Last February’s revelations about Maman, as well as a number of other embarrassing incidents exposed by The Electronic Intifada, led the Israeli army to launch a campaign to convince its members to stop posting damaging material to social media accounts.

It included a YouTube video telling soldiers “Always remember: You are the face of the IDF. So improve your appearance – online!”

“The IDF is glad to invite you to get connected, share, love, tweet, respond, and show the pretty face of the IDF,” the video adds.

The message did not get through to Maman and to many other Israeli army members who continue to reveal their true sentiments online.

“Selfie squad”


This week The Guardian reported that “Having suffered a PR battering from viral video clips showing its soldiers in an unflattering light, the Israel Defence Forces are firing back with a combat camera unit trained to show their version of the story.”

Dubbed the “selfie squad” by the newspaper, the soldiers in this special unit are trained to “film, edit and broadcast from the battlefield.”

It is clear that the purpose is PR and propaganda. “My main mission is to film. I think the job of anyone recording what happens is much more important than any fighter,” one member of the unit told The Guardian.

“There are lots of cameras on the other side. They show us apparently acting in an unfair way to civilians, to our enemies. We are here to explain and to document for the entire world that we don’t use force for bad.”

Welcoming propaganda

Bizarrely Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reportedly “welcomed the new unit.”

“More documentation is a very positive thing,” B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli said. “There are a lot of arguments about the facts of various incidents. The problem is that the army doesn’t release this footage and when it does, it releases very heavily edited sequences.”

But as Michaeli surely knows, the problem is rarely a lack of evidence. Even when there is plenty of evidence and documentation of incidents, the problem is systematic impunity and lack of accountability.

Israeli top brass are deluded if they think that they can successfully present their occupation troops as anything other than what they are: foot soldiers in a systematic colonization effort which requires enormous amounts of violence and humiliation in an attempt to suppress Palestinian resistance to land theft for the benefit of Jewish settlers.

Rather than helping Israel’s image, the army’s attempt to co-opt and control its soldiers’ social media use will only generate the suspicion that every artifact created online by army-age Israeli youth is part of an official hasbara – propaganda – war.

While, say, French or American youths can make “selfies” without worrying that their images are going to be taken to represent their nation, young Jewish Israelis will no longer have this option. Their images are now politicized, militarized and instrumentalized by their army.   As for troubled and homicidally inclined Florida youth Osher Maman, he and others like him may be off message, but they are too often the true, and not-so-pretty face of the “IDF.”

A record of online hatred

Some of The Electronic Intifada’s most-read posts documented the torrent of violent hatred spewed online by Maman and his comrades in arms:

Written FOR




In recent weeks we have seen the hatred spewed out on the pages of FaceBook by IDF soldiers. Photos and stories as to how to torture Palestinian Children, etc.
Now it seems Twitter, as well, is allowing similar hate on their site as well. Is this the reason Social Media exists, or in actuality is it really anti social media?
In the case of Twitter, it’s not Islamophobia, it’s anti-Semitism. Both are unacceptable in a civilised world!
Last year, thousands of Tweets in French bearing the hashtag #unbonjuif (“a good Jew,” as in, “A good Jew is a dead Jew”) streamed through the social media site’s enormous network. The Tweets were usually violent comments about Jewish influence or blood curdlingly anti-Semitic jokes — one Tweet simply linked to a picture of an ashtray.

Anti-Semitism and Anonymity on Twitter

Is the Social Media Giant Allowing Hate Speech To Thrive?


Tweeting: What happens when hate hides behind a social media platform?
Tweeting: What happens when hate hides behind a social media platform?


By Gal Beckerman

“Anonymous” is a pretty apt name for the motley crew of anarchist hackers who like to disable and deface the websites of groups or people “they” don’t like. We can’t interrogate their motives. Only their work offers clues, sometimes quite unambiguous ones.

When Anonymous recently tried to take down the website for Yad Vashem — on Holocaust Remembrance Day, no less — this was anti-Semitism. Despite many newspapers, including The New York Times, describing the group that day as “pro-Palestinian,” it’s hard to understand how vandalizing the website of Israel’s Holocaust museum furthers the Palestinian cause.

But at least Anonymous wears its anonymity on its sleeve. The bigger problem with anonymity online is the way it serves as a mask on social media platforms that provide a bullhorn of unprecedented volume to anyone who wants it. I’m thinking of Twitter, and a recent case that poses interesting — some would say serious — questions about how social media abets hatred in new and dangerous ways.

Last year, thousands of Tweets in French bearing the hashtag #unbonjuif (“a good Jew,” as in, “A good Jew is a dead Jew”) streamed through the social media site’s enormous network. The Tweets were usually violent comments about Jewish influence or blood curdlingly anti-Semitic jokes — one Tweet simply linked to a picture of an ashtray.

The Union of French Jewish Students sued Twitter last fall in the French equivalent of the Supreme Court, demanding the company provide the names of those Tweeting out the vile stuff (it would have been a long list since at one point the hashtag was trending among the three most popular topics in France). The students won, but Twitter has refused to comply, and in late March they sued again, this time to fine the company over $50 million for not obeying the ruling.

On the face of it, this seems like a straightforward matter of free speech. That’s what Twitter is arguing.

Since its servers are based in the United States, it respects First Amendment law, which offers a very broad umbrella of protection. Basically, if there is no threat of immediate violence, it’s fair game. Since Twitter sees as its mission (not to mention its business) to provide an open forum, it makes sense for them to be dogmatic on this point. The American in me instinctually gets this.

Twitter is simply a tool. It can be used by anyone — to project interesting ideas and witty asides, or racism and stupidity. And we should leave it to the free marketplace of Tweets to sort it all out. I wouldn’t want Twitter to become the arbiter of what counts as authentic hate speech and what doesn’t.

But I’m also a Jew. And the Jew in me has a hard time ignoring the particular context of French Jewry and the sense of embattlement it is currently experiencing. Between the shooting spree at a Jewish school in Toulouse last year that killed four people and the earlier torture and murder of a young Parisian Jew, Ilan Halimi, there is a deep sense of dread that has led to an increasing emigration by Jews out of France. For those French students suing Twitter, the endless vile Tweets must have felt like the walls closing in on them.

Complicating this already complicated issue is anonymity. What the French students wanted was not to ban the use of #unbonjuif (Twitter eventually deleted the most offensive Tweets). They wanted the names of those who Tweeted.

France has more stringent hate speech laws and those making threatening anti-Semitic statements could possibly be prosecuted if their identities were known. Those laws exist because of France’s history and because its citizens feel more acutely than Americans do that potentially dangerous speech has to be quickly suppressed.

At some level Twitter, as global as it is, understands the need for sovereignty. The company’s policy states that users must comply with their local laws. But this is meaningless when you consider that anyone can create a fake handle and start tweeting with impunity.

There is, of course, a defense of online anonymity to be made. Think of all the revolutions throughout history and the new ideas, dangerous at first, that would never have existed if their authors had to declare themselves publicly. Many of the Tweets emanating from the Arab Spring or the 2009 Iranian protests were anonymous. And some of the funniest material on Twitter comes from joke handles (remember @InvisibleObama, which appeared after Clint Eastwood’s conversation with an empty chair last summer?). Much of the vibrancy of a platform like Twitter could be compromised if users were forced to register with their real names.

Against this ideal of total freedom, though, stand the particulars of history and society. Sitting here in front of my computer in America, I think anonymity is important, even if it provides cover for hate and can become a tool for cowards. It would be a mistake to use the law to override it except under extreme circumstances. But can I say the same for Europe?

The hate that lies under anonymous cover in France or Germany clearly feels even scarier and more nefarious to its citizens. That’s why their laws are harsher for prosecuting that hate. At a moment when we are so enthralled by transnational, earth-flattening forums like Twitter, couldn’t we also make room for these concerns, balancing our enthusiasm with a respect for the way national history shapes our sense of what should or should not be spoken?




Definition of ATROPHY …. (FROM)

Decrease in size or wasting away of a body part or tissue; also : arrested development or loss of a part or organ incidental to the normal development or life of an animal or plant
Here are the manifestations of the above …. as seen on YouTube via FaceBook ….

 Israeli mob celebrates savage beating of Palestinian man, shouts racist slogans

Full report by Ali Abunimah can be read HERE regarding the above incident.


New Obama video, like 2010 pro-Israel ad, uses sleazy sex talk to lure youth support

Submitted by Ali Abunimah 

The Obama campaign has released a sleazy video featuring actress and filmmaker Lena Dunham, likening voting for Obama to having sex for the first time.



Leaning into the camera, using language suggestive of how mass media talk about sex, Dunham says, “Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody. You wanna do it with a great guy. It should be a guy with a beautiful …. someone who really cares about and understands women.”

By the end of the one minute ad, it’s clear Dunham is appealing to youth to use their first time voting to support Obama.

This ploy reminded me of another attempt to liken a political act to sex. In 2010 a Canadian pro-Israel hasbara campaign called “Size Doesn’t Matter” released a video of a couple in bed.



The man appears to be trying to convince a young woman to engage him in oral sex. “It’s small,” she complains, “I don’t know if I can go there.”

The gag at the end is that he is actually trying to convince her to come with him to Israel.

Another disturbing Israeli hasbara video, “Sex with the Psychologist,” likened criticism of Israel to a sexual assault, while simultaneously presenting the female “victim” in a sexualized manner.

Such ads reduce women from political actors to sexual objects doing men’s bidding, succumbing to the seduction of a powerful politician, supporting an apartheid state. The Obama ad in particular is “creepy,” as @hkubra tweeted, and “demeaning to women by alluding [to] sex as the identifier of transition from ‘girl’ to ‘woman.’”

The “seduction” hides the violence – of Obama’s wars and Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid. Women’s bodies are being used to sell us the candidate responsible for killing so many women, men and children – invisible and unheard. Exposing women’s bodies and exploiting sexuality are his desperate last resort to justify voting for him.

Written FOR


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