MKs from right and left unite to make anti-incitement video
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MKs from right and left unite to make anti-incitement video

Initative meant to educate people about risks of online hate speech comes as Israel marks 20 years since assassination of Yitzhak Rabin

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) in a clip shot to raise awareness of incitement on social media. (Screen capture Channel 2)
MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) in a clip shot to raise awareness of incitement on social media. (Screen capture Channel 2)

Knesset members from across the spectrum have collaborated on a video clip calling for an end to incitement against politicians on social media.

The clip was released Monday, as Israel marked the passage of 20 years since the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, a political murder partly blamed on incitement against Rabin by right-wing activists and leaders.

MK Yossi Yonah (Zionist Union) told Channel 2 on Monday that the responsibility for creating a “different atmosphere lies with the leaders. I’m afraid that if our leaders don’t take care of this, we may descend into civil war – Jewish history shows that this is possible.”

Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal, covered by the shadow of a hand placing comments written against him on Facebook, in a clip published by several MKs together to highlight the dangers of online incitement. (Screen capture Channel 2)
Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal, covered by the shadow of a hand in a clip posted by several MKs to highlight the dangers of online incitement. (Screen capture Channel 2)

Kulanu MK Meirav Ben Ari, a first-time lawmaker, said she encountered incitement when the Knesset was voting on Israel’s natural gas reserves a few months ago. “I am young and unknown, and all of a sudden I was exposed to this incitement against me. I was in India, and someone wrote to me ‘Stay in India, you won’t be missed by anyone.’ They called me ‘miserable’ and ‘a whore,’” she told Channel 2.

Ben Ari was one of those who initiated the video, in which MKs are shown in a darkened room, seemingly unclothed, while Facebook comments posted about them are projected onto their faces.

The video is intended to be distributed in schools, in order to teach children the dangerous implications of hateful comments, when individuals decide to act upon them.

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“The distance from words to actions is shorter than we think,” said Yonah. “When someone is called a ‘traitor’ you need little more; one does not need to be a genius to understand the ‘correct’ punishment for a traitor.”

Magal, who is also filmed in the video, told Channel 2 that the problem stems from poor education, on both the right and left flanks of the political spectrum. Still, “those who suffer (ongoing hostility) are mainly left-wing women MKs, who are on the receiving end of horrifying sexual comments,” Magal said.

According to Channel 2, Joint (Arab) List MK Aida-Touma Sliman, who is also head of the Knesset caucus against racism, was invited to participate in the video, but refused when she learned that Magal was taking part.

“It is inconceivable for an MK who only recently made comments on ‘counting nakbas’ to take part in a clip on this issue,” she said. “This important initiative missed its goal and in fact played into the hands of existing incitement.”

She was referring to a recent comment by Magal during an interview that “the Arabs should know that one can not only count intifadas (uprisings against Israel) but also nakbas.” Nakba is the Arabic word for “catastrophe” and is commonly used by Palestinians to describe the establishment of the State of Israel.

Adi Eldar (Flash 90)
Adi Eldar (Flash 90)

On Sunday, Adi Eldar, the mayor of northern town Carmiel, implied that many of the people who are “de facto partners” of Rabin assassin Yigal Amir are in key positions in government today.

“One must always remember that (while) his finger pulled the trigger, there were many fingers, fingers which are today in control of the State of Israel. We should not mince words about this: they were partners in the squeezed trigger that shot Rabin in the back.”

Eldar has been Carmiel mayor for 27 years. A Labor man, he was close to Rabin and helped organize the November 4, 1995 Tel Aviv rally at which the late prime minister was assassinated.

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