Thou Shalt Not Incite: Palestinian Women Tossed in Slammer for Facebook Posts



The favorite word of Israeli officials these days seems to be “incitement.” Since October of last year, 28 Palestinian women have been arrested for posting on Facebook, and one of the favored charges heaved at them by magistrates seems to be “incitement.” This at any rate is what 22-year-old Majd Atwan was convicted of.

Atwan, from the West Bank village of Al-Khader, near Bethlehem, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and fined 3,000 shekels (approximately $794)–all for a post on Facebook.

I don’t guess I need to remind people that two years ago Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked put up a Facebook post in which she referred to Palestinians as “snakes” and in essence called for a campaign of genocide against them–but Shaked was not arrested for incitement. And only just last month the following image surfaced–taken at a rally held by Israelis in support of a soldier who fired a bullet into the head of an unconscious Palestinian, killing him. To my knowledge, the lady never got hauled away to jail, even though the sign she is holding is about the most blatant form of incitement you could imagine:


We have additionally had prominent Israeli rabbis calling for Palestinians to be killed, with one even calling it a “religious duty,” though not a single one seems to have been arrested for counseling in such a manner.

So what did Atwan post on Facebook that the Israelis found so objectionable? It seems to have been this picture:


The image was posted to Atwan’s Facebook timeline on April 22. This was four days after a bus bombing in Jerusalem, and just one day after the bomber was identified as 19-year-old Abdul Hamid Abu Srour. I can’t tell you what the writing within the photo says (presumably it at least gives the young man’s name), but I can give you the words that Atwan posted along with the photo when she posted it:

وتزنر يا ابو البشاير …. ‫#‏بحزام_الناسف‬ عالداير .

الاستشهادي عبد الحميد سرور

Facebook translations from Arabic to English are a little rough sometimes, and this one seems to be no exception, but this is how it comes out:

The DIODE ABO LBSHẠYR…. ‪#‎Belt‬ _ Blaster about deyr rains.
Happy Hybrid Martyr Abdul Hamid

Why does Atwan refer to Abu Srour as a “hybrid” martyr? I haven’t an answer to that. All I can tell you is that according to the Times of Israel, 20 Israelis were injured in the blast, one of them–a 15-year-old girl–critically; Abu Srour himself, however, was the only fatality, according to the report.

There are several different ways of looking at all of this. There is what might be thought of as the “typically Western” perspective, which goes something like this: Abu Srour despicably set out to commit mass bloodshed and murder on a bus loaded with civilians, and for a 22-year-old girl to pay tribute to him on Facebook–well, it is misguided and stupid at best.

Then there is the Palestinian perspective (or at least the perspective of some Palestinians). Here, Abu Srour was not only resisting a brutal occupation but retaliating for horrendous crimes that have occurred over the course of that occupation’s 68 interminable years–crimes such as the Deir Yassin massacre of 1948, the Kafr Qasim massacre of 1956, and the attack on Gaza in 2014–crimes for which there has never been a reckoning, and toward which the West not only has turned a blind eye but in some cases, such as the US with its billions of dollars of military assistance each year, bears criminal responsibility for.

And then finally there is what might be thought of as the “fed-up-with-hypocrisy-and-double-standards” perspective. Falling into this category are those of us who have taken note of the fact that the word “terrorist” is inevitably applied to enemies of Israel but never to Israel itself–this irregardless of how many white phosphorous bombs and flechette bombs might rain down upon Gaza civilians or how many missiles may destroy apartment buildings full of families with children, and of course we also note that while Israelis are quick to condemn Palestinian “terrorists,” they often lionize Jews who do similar things.

In 1946, members of the Jewish terror organization Irgun bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 people. In July of 2006–exactly 60 years later–Israelis unveiled a plaque commemorating the event and paying homage to the terrorists.

The Irgun group got started in 1936, and one of its most famous members, Menachem Begin, went on to become a prime minister of Israel. But there is yet another Irgun terrorist who is also given special recognition today, and that is  Shlomo Ben-Yosef.

In 1938, Ben-Yosef was hanged by the British mandate, this after he and others threw grenades in a failed attempt to kill the passengers aboard a Palestinian bus. Trying to kill people on a bus…hmm…sounds very similar to Abu Srour, does it not? Maybe the Israelis should have written Ben-Yosef off as a “hybrid martyr” and left it at that. But no. Instead they named streets after him.

Today in Israel streets named after Shlomo Ben-Yosef  can be found in a number of cities, including Tel Aviv, Acre and Herzliya. Vehicles travel down them, people live and work on them…this while we watch Palestinian women being carted off to jail for posting things on Facebook.

Google maps view of Shlomo Ben Yosef street in Acre
Google maps view of Shlomo Ben Yosef street in Acre

It all serves to underscore the fact that Israel is an apartheid state. There is one set of law for Jews. And a separate set of laws for Palestinians. This is the essence of apartheid. And this is the essence of Israel.

Moreover, what pops its head up each morning when the sun rises over Occupied Palestine and its various incarnations of Shlomo Ben Yosef streets is an apartheid state which at the same time very much likes to pretend to be a democracy, at least on talk shows in the United States…and in this we have the essence of hypocrisy as well.

In Israel, the words “Thou shalt not incite,” in reality mean, “Thou shalt not incite against Jews.”


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