Anti-Defamation League director Jonathan Greenblatt oversees a Silicon Valley war room and partners with YouTube as a "Trusted Flagger"

Why Is YouTube Censoring Content Critical of Israel?

In November 2015, Abby Martin’s Empire Files interviewed me about the Israeli right’s consolidation of control over the country’s institutions and the predominance of racist attitudes in Jewish Israeli society. It was a fairly straightforward discussion that covered many of the same subjects I touched on in my book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.

The video published by Empire Files did feature a shockingly genocidal tirade, but not from me; it concluded with footage of an Israeli soldier barking through a megaphone to the residents of the Palestinian town of Beit Ummar in the occupied West Bank: “Go home, or we will gas you until you die!”

Last week, I learned that YouTube had blocked Martin’s interview of me in 28 countries, asserting some vague legal mandate to do so. It also limited the sharing functions of the video in many others, but without explanation. 

In an interview with RT, I pointed to the pro-Israel blacklisting organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), as the most likely source of pressure on YouTube to suppress content critical of Israel.

In 2017, the ADL announced that it had become a “Trusted Flagger” of “online hate” by YouTube. The same year, the group declared that same year that it had established “a state-of-the-art command center in Silicon Valley to combat the growing threat posed by hate online.” According to the ADL’s press release, the seed funding for its war room was provided by Pierre Omidyar, the tech billionaire whose fortune also funds The Intercept and a variety of US soft power initiatives.

The ADL has defined Palestine solidarity activism as a form of bigotry, or what it has branded, the “new anti-Semitism.” So it is fair to assume this organization is exploiting its unprecedented latitude to suppress social media content that challenges pro-Israel imperatives under cover of battling the threat of “hate online.”

For those who are unable to view my interview with Empire Files on YouTube, Al Masdar has republished it on its own video platform here.

Back in 2010 my “Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem” video report was disappeared from YouTube after it racked up over half a million hits in less than two days. This piece, which is still viewable here, provided perhaps the clearest documentation to date of the kind of openly expressed, alcohol fueled Zionist racism that poured through the streets of central Jerusalem on a regular basis, and which has occasionally spilled over into violence against Palestinian youth.

More recently, Helena Cobban complained that YouTube had removed videos made by Yasser Murtaja, the photojournalist and founder of the Gaza-based media company, Ain Media, after he was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper during the Israeli army massacre of protesters on Gaza’s border just days before:

This latest episode of suppression by YouTube confirms my view that the Israel lobby and its accomplices in Silicon Valley present one of the greatest threats to whatever remains of the freedom of speech in the West.