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March 8, 2013

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 8, 201~ By Alina Dain Sharon Last October, the hashtag #unbonjuif (#agoodjew) was trending as the third-most tweeted subject in France. Users jumped on the chance to tweet phrases like "a good Jew is a dead Jew," ultimately forcing the French Jewish students' union (UEJF) to file a lawsuit against Twitter for allowing that content to appear. When a French court de- cided this January that Twit- ter must reveal the identities of users who sent out those anti-Semitic tweets, a cross- continental debate ensued on the difficulty of defining and policing anti-Semitism online. The French incident was hardly the first case of hate in social media and on the Web. The Simon Wiesenthal Center's 2012 Digital Terror- ism and Hate Report found more than 15,000 websites, social networks, forums, online games and apps that disseminated hateful con- tent. Also in Europe, a report this month by Community Security Trust showed that the number of anti-Semitic incidents via social media in the United Kingdom grew nearly 700 percent in the past 12 months. "Social media is becoming more and more of a problem for us if you look at anti- Semitism," Ronald Eissens, co-founder of the Dutch anti- racism group Magenta and the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH), which works to counter cyber- hate and has 21 members in 20 countries, told "There's a lot of it around. Prosecution is a lot harder because most social media are based firmly in the U.S." In France, the Gayssot law of 1990 was passed to repress racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic actsand criminal- izes Holocaust denial. French Holocaust denier Robert Fau- risson later claimed the law violated his right to freedom of expression and academic freedom, but the United Na- tions Human Rights Commit- tee ruled against him. France punishes the dissemination of racist content online with fines and terms of impris- onment. These penalties increase if the dissemination was public--for example, on a website rather than in a private email--according to the American Jewish Com- mittee (AJC). "The French justice system has made a historic decision," Jonathan Hayoun, president of the UEJF, said in a state- ment about the French court's recent Twitter ruling. "It re- minds victims of racism and anti-Semitism that they are not alone and that French law, which protects them, should apply everywhere, including Twitter." France has faced off against an American online giant before. In 2000, France pros- ecuted Yahoo! for selling Nazi memorabilia online. In France, it is illegal to display such items unless they are in a theatrical or museum set- ting. A French court ruled at the time that Yahoo! had to make the auction site inacces- sible to French users or pay a fine. Although it never legally accepted the French ruling, Yahoo! eventually chose to remove the auction. Then, in 2012, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube com- plied with German law by either taking down material posted by a neo-Nazi group or by blocking users in Germany Web on page 19A David Irving There are many laws on Holocaust denial in Europe, including in Germany, Bel- gium, and Austria, where British Holocaust denier David Irving--who is pic- tured here--was convicted and imprisoned in 2006. On the lnternet, however, anti- Semitism online has proven difficultto define and to police. By Michel Stors The Media Line TEL RIF'AT, Syria--Ibra- him Haddad was unmoved by the news. Syrians returning from Turkey were report- ing that the United States planned on funding rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad and his regime. "The money means noth- ing. Where are the weapons? Where are the missiles we need?" the 39-year-old tech- nician asked The Media Line. "As long as Americawithholds theSe things from us, thiswar ~!! not end." Though Beltway pundits were abuzz about Washing- ton's new pledges of support, in northern Syria they did not elicit much more than a few curious questions. The pes- simists declared the aid will amount to no more than a few humanitarian shipments with no military weapons. The forlorn have lost all hope that the international community will save them from awar that has cost more than 60,000 lives in less than two years. At a Rome conference gath- ering Western nations and the Syrian opposition group known as the National Coali- tion, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the United States would provide the or- ganizationwith $60 million in non lethal aid. The assistance will include items such as prepared rations for fighters on the front and medical sup- plies for wounded rebels. The announcementwas a reversal for an administration that has done everything to avoid entangling itself in a conflict it views as a Gordian knot. President Barack Obama has bucked the counsel of his Western and Arab allies that have urged it to back rebels seeking to depose Assad. Alhough the United States is now officially wading into the Syrian civil war, it is still avoiding giving the rebels the arms they need to topple the regime. "This aid is just peanuts," complained Shukri Adil, a fighter with the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) to The Media Line. "We don't need food. We need weapons. But Obama is worried about Is- rael and doesn't want Assad to fall." Many here believe the chief reason Washington is withholding weapons stems from Israeli security con- cerns. They argue Jerusalem fears that Assad's demise will bring jihadists to positions overlooking the Galilee in northern Israel, and that the Israeli government has persuaded Obama to keep the Syrian regime in power. "Obama and Israel will never give us weapons be- cause they don't want us to win," explained 31 year old Fathi Tikbali, a truck driver from the city of Tel Rif'at. Though more level headed politicians appreciate Wash- ington's shift, like their con- stituents they still believe it is not enough. "It's symbolic and a start," a member of the National Council who asked to remain anonymous told The Media Line. "But in the long run what do we really get? Not much more than what we have now. Without weapons we can't take much more than baby steps." For their part, the Ameri- cans are stressing that the aid is much more than symbolic. "We are, for the first time here, albeit with non lethal means, explicitly supporting the needs of the Supreme Military Council and vet- ted members of its fighting force," an unnamed senior State Department official told reporters. FSA fighters argue what they need is surface to air missiles (SAM) to bring down regime aircraft that bomb them daily without fear of being struck down. Their supremacy over the skies allows Assad's forces to retain isolated bases in areas surrounded by rebels. Controlling these remote outposts allows the regime to harass the rebels, thus depriving them of the slight- est security they need to plan operations, "The planes slaughter us every day, an FSA commander known as Abu Kamil told The Media Line. "Missiles are what will give us an advantage. They will let us challenge the planes and scare the pilots." But Washington fears that SAMs will fall into the hands of jihadists who will be able to use them against civilian aircraft: The United States distributed thousands of SAMs known as Stingers to rebels fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan dur- ing the 1980s. After the war ended, the missiles made it onto the international arms markets. One such SAM was used by A1-Qa'ida in an un- successful attempt to bring down an Israeli plane over Mombassa, Kenya in 2002. FSA fighters scoff at the suggestion they would use American supplied SAMs to attack Israel. "Our war is against Assad," noted Samir Yaqin from the village of Anadan. "When that is over we will go home." Assurances such as these have done little to alleviate Washington's concerns. And as long as they do not, the United States will prevent Syrian rebels from receiving the weapons they desperately need to topple Assad. By Diana Atallah The Media Line RAMALLAH--Palestinian officials hope the upcoming visit by President Barack Obama will end the current deadlock in the peace process, but are skeptical that the visit will change the situation on the ground. Speaking to reporters before a PLO Executive Com- mittee meeting at his Ramal- lah compound, The Muqata, on Tuesday, Palestinian Au- thority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the Obama visit this month but said that resuming negotiations with Israel requires that it freeze its building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem; and re- lease Palestinian prisoners detained before the 1993 Oslo Accords. Abbas also called for an international probe into the death on Saturday of a security prisoner detained by israel; and improved condi- tions for other incarcerated Palestinians. He said that the Palestinian leadership doesn't want to see an esca- Jation of the recent violence between Palestinians and israeli security forces that has raged since the weekend, but rather seeks to reach a solution to the Palestinian- Israeli conflict. Ahead of the Obama visit, a Palestinian official told The Media Line that the American president will not be present- ing a proposal to the parties. Echoing pre-visit statements coming from Washington, the official, who spoke anony- mously said, "We know that Obama will be open to listen- ing to the proposals provided by both sides but he doesn't have any to offer." Some Palestinians feel the US administration should focus more on the larger picture. PLO Executive Com- mittee member Bassam Salhhi told The Media Line that the American admin- istration "wants to go into details instead of the whole picture of ending the Israeli occupation. They want the two sides to discuss small matters leading to a belief that the two sides are back to negotiations," Salhi said, hinting that the U.S. will focus on confidence-building measures rather than on ways to end Israeli control of lands it acquired in the 1967 war. One source said he expects American pres- sure on Israel to call a halt to post-1967 building as such a measure, indicating it could be effective. Another senior Palestinian official told The Media Line that Obama is considering a European initiative as the foundation for future peace talks. The British-French plan is rumored to be a re- vised version of the Arab Ini- tiative, which calls for ending the conflict by normalizing relations between the entire Arab region and Israel, in exchange for Israel's com- plete withdrawal from the post-1967 lands and a "just settlement" of the Palestin- ian refugee issue. However, others argue that new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is not keen on the European move as much as his prede- cessor Hillary Clinton was. Two Palestinian envoys were in Washington lastweek where they briefed the US administration regarding the Palestinian stance on resum- ing negotiations with Israel. Abd AI Majid Swailem, a political science instructor at Al Quds University, told The Media Line that Washington is interested in maintaining the two-state solution but not final status talks. He argued that, "The US doesn't want to see a failure but wants to delay a possible solution un- til the end of Obama's term which will allow the Demo- cratic party to say during its election campaign that they reached a breakthrough." Swailem believes the Americans are disappointed with Israeli Prime Minis- ter Benjamin Netanyahu's policies, but just can't talk about it. Belief among Palestinians is that President Obama does not yet have a set agenda, but that Kerry is being counted upon for to set one. Kerry was originally supposed to visit Israel and the Palestin- ians during the first week of March, but deferred because of the President's plans. Meanwhile, in the streets of Ramallah, the news that President Obama is coming to visit was received coolly. "What will the Americans do to us? Part of the reason we are in this bad situation is because of America," Bassima Hani, 50, told The Media Line. The planned visit also comes as tension continues to rise amid mutterings about the possibility of a third "In- tifada," albeit without the violence that typified the previous two. Dozens have been injured in clashes with Israeli forces in West Bank cities, trig- gered first by a hunger strike by prisoners being held by Israel and on Saturday, the unrelated death of a detainee in another prison. Abbas told PLO Executive Committee meeting that Israel was taking harsher steps against Palestinians, especially regarding the conditions of Palestinian detainees. He condemned the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat, who was buried with full military honors, and called for an international probe into its circumstances. Abbas also rejected Israeli demands that the P.A. take control of the protests. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Ne- tanyahu has demanded that Palestinian security forces maintain order and prevent violence.The P.A. announced they have no intention of any violent demonstrations and do not want a third Intifada but support non-violent resis- tance. "The Israeli army uses live ammunition [against our people] and asks the Palestin- ian police to prevent clashes. The demonstrations are a re- sponse to the Israeli attacks. If there isn't a continuation of detention, there won't be demonstrations," Abbas said in a statement. He said the Palestinian leadership doesn't want to see an esca- lation but rather to reach a solution to the conflict. As a gesture to reduce tensions, Israel this week an- nounced the release of money it collects for the Palestinians and under the terms of the Oslo Accords is supposed to transfer to Ramallah monthly. The tax and tariff revenue is used to pay the salaries of government employees. By contrast, Israeli officials sounded more upbeat about the upcoming Obama visit. "The visit by the president here in Israel is a special oc- casion and a chance to demon- strate the special relationship between Washington and Jerusalem; to talk about the excellentbilateral relationship and see whether it's possible to improve that relationship," Mark Regev, Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesman, told The Media Line. In synch with statements from Washington, Regev demonstrated that the Pal- estinians are notwrong that their issue will not be primary focus of President Obama's 48-hours--43 in Israel and 5 in Ramallah. "The number one issue on the agenda is the Iranian issue and the need to prevent Iran from obtaining an enriched capability. The clock is ticking. The prime ministerwill also speak about the situation in Syria and the possibility that if S~,ria fragments, its large drs~:nal of nonconventional wear ons could fall into the hands of Hezbollah or other groups." But, according to Regev, "We will also discuss our desire to restart negotiations with the Palestinians and to move forward."