The Online Hate Prevention Institute has secured the removal by Medium of an article calling for “Death to Israel” and the “abolition of Israel”. The article appeared on August 8th (2022) in the Adelaide University student magazine “On Dit Magazine” and was written by Habibah Jaghoori, a member of the editorial board of the magazine.

The final lines of the article read:

“The solution to achieving peace and bringing forth justice for Palestine is to demand the abolition of Israel.

Free Palestine and Death to Israel.”

The article was posted to the magazine’s Facebook page, and pinned to the top of the page, with a message saying “Glory to the Intifada” and “Glory to the resistance”. This is the language used in Palestinian calls for violence and terrorism against Israel. Combined with the call for Israel’s destruction in the article itself, which is the goal of Hamas the proscribed terrorist group in control of Gaza, this article may be regarded as pro-Hamas propaganda, and specifically propaganda glorifying and supporting violence and terrorism.

As reported by J-Wire, the publication of such an article has left Jewish students at Adelaide University feeling unsafe and has left the local Jewish community in shock. The Australasian Union of Jewish Students told J-Wire they were “appalled that On Dit is allowed to publish an article filled with hatred and incitement”. Annetay Henderson-Sapir, President of the Jewish Community Council of South Australia, told J-Wire, “Calling for ‘Death to Israel’ goes well beyond ordinary political discourse, as would a call for the ‘death’ of any country. This statement unfairly singles out Jewish students. There is no place for hatred in modern Australian society. All students deserve to feel safe and respected at university, regardless of their religion, country of origin, culture or ethic connections.”

The Online Hate Prevention Institute contacted Medium, the online publishing platform used by On Dit Magazine, in relation to this article. Medium has rules they apply globally against “Threats of violence and incitement” and “Hateful content”.

Medium’s policy on “Threats of violence and incitement” states, “We do not allow content or actions that threaten, encourage, or incite violence against anyone, directly or indirectly.” The call of “Death to Israel” at the bottom of the article is incitement to violence. This is also more than mere rhetoric given the articles propaganda nature as expressed in its Facebook post.  

Medium’s policy on “Hateful content” states in part, “We do not allow content that constitutes or promotes violence, harassment, or hatred against people based on characteristics like race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, caste, disability, disease, age, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.” The call for the destruction of a country is hatred against the people of that country based on their national origin. The content is also antisemitic. Antisemitism, hatred against Jewish people, sometimes presents Jews as a race, sometimes as an ethnicity, and sometimes as a religious group. It is prohibited on medium on all three counts.

The best tool to assist with determining if content is antisemitic is the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism. It has been adopted by been adopted by 37 countries, and is supported by the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of American States, and the Council of Europe.

Before calling for Israel’s destruction, the article stated:

“The recent bloodshed in Palestine represents what Zionism is. A military occupation, a colonial project, a Western capitalist endeavour and ethnic cleansing in practice.”

We advised Medium that this misrepresentation of Zionism, particularly in the context of a justification to call for the destruction of the Jewish state, fits squarely within the example the IHRA definition gives of “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

Medium has reviewed the article, confirmed to us that it is in violation of their rules, and that they have taken action to suspend the article in response to the Online Hate Prevention Institute’s notification. Visitors to the address of the article will now see an error notice stating that the article has been removed. 

Dr Andre Oboler, CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute commented:

“Medium’s response to our notification and their removal of the antisemitic article was timely, effective, and in keeping with their global policies. It is concerning that a publication that supposedly operates under editorial oversight, and is associated with a University, would allow such a blatant example of antisemitism to be published and would need their platform provider to intervene. This raises serious questions about both the editorial processes at the magazine and the fitness of the current editorial board members to operate a media publication.”

UPDATE (5 September):

Following the removal of the article, on Friday the magazine reposted the content to their Facebook page as a series of images. The repost claims it is being done int he name of “press freedom”, stated the magazine “reaffirms its position”, repeats the antisemitic section misrepresenting Zionism, and calls from “Glory to the Intifada” and “Glory to the resistance”.

We contacted Meta within a few minutes of the article being posted to Facebook, urging them to take action both on the original post and the reproduction of the article as images. Meta immediately began and investigation and today (Monday) confirmed to us that the post reproducing the article “violates our Community Standards and has been removed.” We thank them for taking this action.

The article may still appear in other places, but after two major platforms have independently reviewed the content and determined it breached their rules / community standards, removing it should be an easy call for any other platforms it is posted to. There are platforms that allow hate speech, but hopefully if it appears on those platforms, that is warning enough to anyone who might see it. Any other platform that has rules against hate speech and incitement to violence should immediately remove the post once they become aware of it.

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