Digital World: Israel or 'Palestine'?

Regardless of what Facebook may want you to believe, there is currently no country called Palestine.

facebook 88 (photo credit:)
facebook 88
(photo credit: )
You don't have to be paranoid to believe that Israel is a victim of a worldwide Internet hatchet job. The evidence of it is visible everywhere on the Web. Have we so quickly forgotten the Photoshop-fakery Reuters engaged in during the Second Lebanon War (http://tinyurl.com/m3y6t)? You would think that the news agency would have been a little bit ashamed at getting caught with its airbrush down. But no: a search for "Gaza" at the Reuters photo site (http://www.reuters.com/news/pictures) yielded 5,620 photos - mostly of people on stretchers, crowds examining bombed out buildings or cars, or funerals. A search for "Sderot," meanwhile, returned a mere 142 photos, many of them pictures of IDF troops gearing up for some action in Gaza. A picture is worth 1,000 words, but unfortunately, you'd need 10,000 to explain those Gaza photos - especially the part about Hamas' wanting to wipe Israel off the map (http://tinyurl.com/36yv6c), or their unending hate-mongering against Jews (http://tinyurl.com/2j45mr, http://tinyurl.com/3yhvtu, many others). It's interesting how the anti-Israel crowd never puts this stuff into context, while they can easily find justification for, say, the attack at Mercaz Harav - the "seminary" trains soldiers and settlers, "as long as there is occupation, there will be terrorism," etc. (no link, as I don't want to drive up these morons' page rankings!) And then there's Facebook (http://www.facebook.com), the latest tool being used to delegitimize Israel. Facebook, as you (or your kids) know, is a worldwide community of mostly young people who get together to party online. You invite your friends, chat and message, join groups, post photos - it's sort of like an online pajama party. Personally, I don't see the point - it's not like you can make money off of Facebook. Or can you (http://tinyurl.com/3daohc)? Maybe - but probably not too much. But perhaps there are better ways to make money - or spend your leisure time, unless you want to support an organization that is apparently going out of its way to take sides in the Israel-Arab conflict, creating political "facts on the Web." The Jerusalem Post reported last week (http://tinyurl.com/3df835) that residents of Jewish towns over the green line - Ma'aleh Adumim, Efrat, Ariel, etc. - are now located in "Palestine," instead of Israel or even just "the West Bank" (the designation other sites sometimes use). Not too long ago, FB was indeed using "West Bank and Gaza" to designate those areas, but at some point added the name Palestine, responding to user complaints (http://tinyurl.com/2vj9hy). While there hasn't been any comment forthcoming yet from FB on why they've decided to resolve the road map while negotiations are still ongoing, it stands to reason the site has been responding to public pressure this time as well. Unfortunately, a look at the Facebook groups (some of which act as sort of Political Action Groups in the FB world) shows more groups favoring "them" than "us." There were nine pro-Israel groups I could find with over 1,000 members, but more than 20 supporting the Palestinian view of events, including one called "Every Body who hates ISRAEL JION NOW [sic]," with 988 members, and "Tell Google Earth Jerusalem is Not the Capital of Israel," with nearly 10,000. While I think it's clear where I personally stand on these issues, I can't begrudge Facebook users their right to express a political opinion. However, I think it's very unfair of FB to take sides in an ongoing dispute by making official (the creation of a state called Palestine) something that the United Nations has not even decided on yet (http://tinyurl.com/muuqq)! Regardless of what Facebook may want you to believe, there is currently no country ("occupied" or otherwise) called Palestine; the only legal entity at this time representing residents of the designated areas is the "Palestinian Authority" - and Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel, and the others, are clearly not part of the PA, or Palestine. This is not about politics - it's about historical accuracy, and not submitting to the rule of the mob, dammit - the main reason Facebook apparently made this policy decision too (and there's a new FB group dedicated to making sure that the boss, Mark Zuckerberg, doesn't change his mind called "Palestine is a Country"). Even if you believe Israel should withdraw to the 1967 lines, there is no call for Facebook - or any other Web site - to be hijacked by propagandists. Apparently over the weekend, Facebook got the message that they had gone too far, and restored the choice to those living in communities over the green line to list themselves as part of Israel, if they so wish. But Palestine is still listed as a country, which makes me think that more dirty tricks are in the offing. If I were a Facebook member, I'd find a different service to spend (waste?) my leisure time on. And to make it easier for you and FB to part ways, here are some other scandals/problems/issues the site has been involved in recently: 1) Facebook allows spam - lots of it: According to a report by HP Labs (http://tinyurl.com/37w4xy) 43% of messages received on average by Facebook users is spam. Where does the spam come from, since you only communicate with people you want to? Some of it is from groups you join, but another apparently major source is "friend spam" - where people send you applications to try out (http://tinyurl.com/2astou). Of course, you have to become their "friend" - and maybe recruit others, too - in order to get the application. Then, of course, your new "pal" can send you and your contacts anything they want, since you're all buddies now. FB has promised to do something about it (http://tinyurl.com/2dt4sf), but according to this guy (http://tinyurl.com/3568eb), spam is how FB got to be so big. 2) Facebook could come back to haunt you: "With so much personal information posted online... students could become the victims of pimps or pedophiles, or denied jobs when a prospective employer discovers embarrassing postings during a background check." (http://tinyurl.com/36zvch). And until very recently (like last month), getting your information off FB when you opted out was near impossible (http://tinyurl.com/yofclu). 3) Facebook ignores complaints about sexual predators: From a press release by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that "his office is investigating Facebook over representations the company makes about safety measures" (http://tinyurl.com/ywkxct). Apparently, the case was resolved with a promise by FB to investigate predator-related complaints within 24 hours. And so on. There are plenty of other complaints floating around out there. I know this looks like a "hatchet job," but it really isn't - FB has acknowledged and (at least somewhat) acted on each of these issues. But given these issues - and its shabby treatment of Israel - I wouldn't trust it. http://digital.newzgeek.com