Knesset hears claims of YouTube bias against Israel

IDF spokeswoman says footage taken from drones hovering above Gaza during 2009 war was removed from video website without justification.

March 15, 2011 04:29
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Youtube's top four most viewed videos Wednesday we

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Participants at the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee hearing on Monday accused YouTube editors of being unfair toward Israel.

Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman Avital Leibovich told those gathered that footage taken from drones hovering above Gaza during the 2009 war between Israel and Hamas had been removed from the video website without justification.

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“They were taken from drones, so you can’t say they were offensive,” she said.

“They were only returned after phone calls and lobbying.”

Caroline Glick, senior contributing editor for The Jerusalem Post and founder of Latma, a satirical website that often lampoons left-wing and Arab politicians, also lashed out at YouTube, saying the video site was hostile toward the Jewish state.

“YouTube is unequivocally biased against Israel,” she was quoted as saying in a press release. “It takes them months to take down jihadist and Islamist videos. The message needs to be clear that the Jewish people and the State of Israel are right.”

YouTube automatically removes clips deemed offensive by users pending review by an editor, a process that can take up to several hours. If the clip is found inoffensive, it is immediately put up again.

Another issue that came up during the debate was YouTube’s decision to remove graphic images of the family murdered in Itamar last week from its website.

“Saying we are discriminatory today, a day we are launching personal video sites for MKs, is an outrageous claim,” said Doron Avni, an official at YouTube’s parent company, Google.

“Viewers are the ones who flag content. We have no political biases,” Avni continued. “Our hearts are broken by the massacre at Itamar, but there are children and teenagers who need to be protected from such disturbing images. It’s all a matter of balance and proportion.”

MK Danny Danon (Likud), who chairs the committee, defended the decision to upload videos showing the victims of the stabbing rampage that took place in the West Bank settlement, saying it was an effective way of communicating the horrors of terrorism.

“We’re up against savages, and we have to be more aggressive in our advocacy,” the hawkish lawmaker said. “We need to understand this is the Middle East, not Switzerland, and we need to talk and act the way that they do in the Middle East.”

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