Update: Facebook has now removed the Page in question; Facebook backpedals: removes Third Palestinian Intifada Page against Israel. The previous story is below.
In an attempt to leverage the recent momentum of Facebook-powered revolutions in the Arab world, a Palestinian group on Facebook openly advocates another Intifada against the citizens of Israel. Established less than a month ago and titled Third Palestinian Intifada, the Facebook page has already amassed over 300,000 fans.
Intifada has several definitions, depending on its context and who you ask. Strictly speaking, it means "to shake off violently" in Arabic as one would shake off a scorpion. Others define it as a revolt, primarily by Muslims against non-Muslims who rule a particular country where Muslims reside. To be even more specific, it often refers to an uprising by Palestinian Arabs (in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank) against Israel. Although they start off as non-violent, they never end that way.
The First Intifada by Palestinians occurred between 1987 and 1993. The military and civilian death toll is estimated to be 2,162 Palestinians and 164 Israelis. The Second Intifada by Palestinians began in late September 2000 and ended sometime in 2005, though it's unclear exactly when. The military and civilian death toll is estimated at 5,513 Palestinians, 1,115 Israelis, and 64 foreigners.
The Third Palestinian Intifada calls for 1 million supporters to join forces in an uprising against Israel on May 15, 2011. It's therefore not that surprising that Israel has asked Facebook to take down the page in question. Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein wrote a letter last week to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to think twice about the decision.
"As Facebook’s CEO and founder you are obviously aware of the site's great potential to rally the masses around good causes, and we are all thankful for that," Edelstein wrote. "However, such potential comes hand in hand with the ability to cause great harm such as in the case of the wild incitement displayed on the above-mentioned page."
Facebook has responded and won't take down the page, at least not in its current form. The company will, however, investigate individual posts and comments on the page that are considered problematic.
"While some kinds of comments and content may be upsetting for someone -- criticism of a certain culture, country, religion, lifestyle, or political ideology, for example -- that alone is not a reason to remove the discussion," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "We strongly believe that Facebook users have the ability to express their opinions, and we don’t typically take down content, groups or Pages that speak out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas."