Limits to Freedom of Speech

Words kill. Perhaps not immediately, but gradually, over time. The vile incitement campaign against the Jews of Eretz Yisrael — in the mosques, Arab newspapers and, of late, social media — created the conditions that started the current intifada and have kept it going, despite the fact that it doesn’t enjoy broad support among the Arab public.

One film clip currently airing on social media has a narrator entreating the masses to join the intifada. “In the name of Al-ah,” he shouts in a sing-song voice, “you know what an intifada is? When everyone rises up — worker, teacher, doctor. Intifada is to be or not to be.”

(That helps explain how among the terrorists who have struck in recent weeks is a woman who is pursuing her master’s degree in genetics at a prestigious university in Haifa. She has been given every opportunity by the “Zionist state” to get ahead in life, but when religious “duty” calls…)

The film calls on Palestinians to refuse to cooperate with the Zionists, in a bid to create public opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s security cooperation with Israel, which is continuing despite the incitement, but which is growing more and more tenuous in light of the public sentiment being drummed up by Hamas.

The clip is a “how to” guide, reenacting “successful” attacks against Jews, and showing how soldiers were lured into alleyways and then attacked from behind with knives.

No incitement film of this nature would be complete without funeral scenes showing the “shahid” being hailed by the masses as a hero, and promising heavenly rewards for those who follow in his path.

Social media routinely further encourages suicide attacks by running pictures of murderers and their final messages before going off on their “missions.”

“Today we’re in a different era, in which a great, great many people are incited by publications on their personal smartphones and end up making individual decisions to go out and stab, to go out and blow themselves up with gas balloons,” Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Israeli Army Radio on Monday.

But it isn’t just anonymous preachers ranting and raving on social media that are fueling this violence. The incitement is also coming from Knesset members, whose very handsome monthly salaries — NIS 39,000 ($9,900) — are paid for by the Israeli tax payer.

Hanin Zoabi, the Arab Knesset member who joined the Turkish flotilla that sought to break the blockade of Gaza and murder Israeli soldiers, and who claimed that those who killed the three boys last summer were not terrorists, gave an interview to a Hamas newspaper, urging hundreds of thousands of Arabs to ascend to Har HaBayis “in order to fend off an Israeli plot to spill the blood of residents of East Jerusalem.”

She added: “The participation of thousands of our people will turn these events into a genuine intifada.”

It can be argued that Israel cannot control what appears on social media (even though it did score a rare victory this week when it forced the removal of a Palestinian clip that featured a takeoff of an Israeli song named “He who believes, isn’t afraid” to encourage terrorism against Jews). But there is no excuse for allowing a serial inciter like Zoabi to continue using her office as an Israeli MK to harm the Jews of Eretz Yisrael.

Another Arab MK, Basel Ghattas, “justified” the murder of Eitam and Na’ama Henkin, Hy”d, in front of their four children, saying “they were settlers and not innocent.”

As Uri Ariel said last summer in response to Zoabi’s vindication of the boys’ murderers, “This is a situation that would not be accepted in any democratic country in the world.”

At long last, something is being done, or at least being promised to be done, about the situation. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for a criminal inquiry to be opened against Zoabi on grounds of incitement.

He also declared his support for outlawing the Islamic Movement, which many senior officials believe is the main cause of the current violence through its deceitful campaign claiming that Israel is trying to change the status quo on Har HaBayis.

At the same time, Likud MK David Bitan is preparing a bill to impose heavy fines on MKs who incite to violence. Under his bill, these traitorous legislators would be fined as much as six salaries for incitement.

Israel’s leaders are doing everything they can to put an end to the current wave of attacks. But when it comes to the underlying cause of the violence, they are doing too little, too late. They have failed to understand the distinction between freedom of speech and incitement. While the former is to be fiercely defended, especially for minorities, the latter is to be fiercely prosecuted, especially in the flammable environment that is known as the Middle East.