By Lee Zeldin
Published July 12, 2019
The dawn of the 21st century marked the emergence of the social media age. With over 3 billion users worldwide, social media have transformed every facet of our lives, including by being used for nefarious purposes, such as incitement of violence and the promotion of terror.
Social media serve as the propaganda machine of 21st century terror, and this is apparent in the Middle East. Nowhere is it more dangerous than on the ground amidst the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas – a designated foreign terrorist organization – whips up violent masses in “Days of Rage” nearly instantaneously and raises monetary resources at the push of a button for harmful purposes.
Hamas blocks access to humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza, targets civilians with deadly rockets, has declared jihad as an obligation, and uses women and children as human shields. Nonetheless, Twitter, a U.S. company, continues to offer its invaluable platform to this terrorist organization to advance its hateful ideology and propaganda.
Last month, 15 of my colleagues and I urged Twitter’s CEO to ban all designated foreign terrorist organizations, including Hamas. We’ve witnessed social media become an invaluable and powerful resource that should be denied to terrorists.
But instead of banning Hamas, Twitter is doubling down. In its response, Twitter laid out the criteria it uses to identify and ban “violent extremist groups,” defending its own failure to do so with Hamas. Ironically, Hamas meets each and every one of its criteria.
First, Twitter says “violent extremist groups” must “identify through their stated purpose, publication, or actions, as an extremist group.” As a whole, Hamas long followed a comprehensive charter blatantly promoting jihad as an obligation and called for the murder of all Jews. Even in Hamas’ latest attempt to revise its original charter, the language does not renounce violence and still considers jihad a legitimate duty of its people.
Second, Twitter stated “violent extremist groups” must “have engaged in, or currently engage in, violence and/or the promotion of violence as a means to further their cause.” Hamas’ charter specifically targets Israel in its promotion of violence, and the entire foundation of what Hamas calls its “Islamic Resistance Movement” is aimed at the destruction of Israel itself.
In fact, every year, Hamas uses Twitter to recruit members to incite violence on its “Days of Rage,” encouraging the citizens of Gaza to severely harm Jews and praise "martyrs" who kill innocent civilians.
Third, Twitter highlights that "violent extremist groups" must “target civilians in their acts and/or promotion of violence.” Just one of many examples of Hamas’ targeting of Israeli civilians came just recently on May 15, when Fathi Hammad, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, addressed Israel as the "Zionist enemy" saying, "the day of your slaughter, extermination, and annihilation has drawn near.” And in just the past two months, Hamas has fired over 700 rockets into Israel, killing innocent civilians.
Twitter’s criteria of a “violent extremist group” is a play-by-play of Hamas’ mission, and its failure to ban Hamas in its entirety is unacceptable, which is why we’re not backing down. It’s unfathomable that Twitter would be so brazenly complacent, allowing Hamas to use its platform as a terror command and communications center of dangerous propaganda.
Social media constitute the most powerful readily accessible communications weapon Hamas has in its arsenal. We should make every attempt to deny foreign terrorist organizations every resource, including this most invaluable and powerful one. Remarkably, Twitter doesn’t agree.