Pro-Palestinian accounts get suspended on social media platforms all the time. It shouldn't happen, but it does. We sometimes object, sometimes win, often lose, sometimes the suspensions and deletions are barely noticeable, and in other cases, such as this one, a pattern emerges that muddies the ground and makes it sink-able for everyone.
Palestinian Voices is an upcoming news outlet run by young people, that gives children and other youngsters a free platform to publish their stories — factual, fictional or otherwise. It's a new venture with a thousand learning curves yet to be swerved and dunams of space to hone unchartered skills in the search for professionalism and leadership. It's exciting to see it unfold.
Recently, not one, not two, but three members of the team have had their accounts destroyed. Twitter's waste disposal unit has been busy recently. One by one, these young, ambitious journalists and reporters working to bring us the news from Palestine are being forcibly taken from us; metaphorically — erased in the night.
And the outcry — is there one?
The act of silencing signifies terror: a fear of words, a fear of third person experience, a fear of the message and of its meaning. Dangerously, it undermines the fundamental vision that free speech, discussion and debate are tools to education and empowerment. Censorship undermines democracy.
Censorship is sinister
Punishing students for their speech robs our public debate of needed voices, says Sonja West — professor in First Amendment Law at the University of Georgia; it teaches children that censorship is acceptable. It isn't.
Ironically, in the beginning, sites such as Twitter and Facebook were built to give everyone a fair crack and importantly, an equal voice. Their collusion with the Israeli government has led them into a dark alley, trying to extinguish young people's words, seize their opinions, and gag their reports — the freely written, freely read and freely shared is no longer free, unless of course, it sings for Israel.
But where does the silencing come from? Who would agreeably work at the behest of Israel to decide who can and who can't write. Other young people? Middle-aged lobbyists sitting round a glass table scratching out the tongues of their teenage enemies? Censorship is indeed sinister.
For now, these accounts are gone. But they return — of course they do. In the face of adversity, Palestine and everything Palestinian, always returns.