Edelstein: Social Media ‘Freedom of Speech’ Hurting Us

Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Israelis may have a lot to be proud of, according to Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein, especially in the area of freedom of speech – but too much free speech can sometimes be too much of a good thing. Speaking at the official Knesset ceremony inaugurating Independence Day on Wednesday night, Edelstein said that “social media has encouraged a difficult culture of unending shaming and incitement that has not passed by Israeli society. Freedom of speech, the heart of democracy, is unfortunately used for hurtful and mean language.”

In an appeal for more understanding between segments of Israeli society, Edelstein said that “in recent years the exchanges between people, sectors and political affiliations has coarsened. Many take upon themselves the mask of virtual anonymity and allow themselves the freedom to embarrass, hurt, and attack others, sometimes with no limit or consideration for the consequences of their words. No one is immune from this – not the president or prime minister, not a Knesset member or minister, not a policeman or a soldier, not a judge nor a journalist.”

Edelstein also related to Israel’s struggle to survive in the modern era. “Our enemies have incited and propagandized, and sewn hate and fear among us, and have used social media for this purpose. A tool that was supposed to unify people and nations is being used against us to separate and divide,” he added.