Palestinian accounts get suspended on social media platforms all the time. Twitter suspensions and deletions are clearly noticeable.
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. Abdulraheem Alfarra, Bahaa Shammala, and Saif Eldden Bitar: 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.
Twitter Policy claims that it respects the freedom of speech, but that is not true as it becomes clear that Twitter is completely biased to the Israeli side by silencing the Palestinian Voices.
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.
Bahaa Shammala's Twitter account with its 50,000 followers was suspended two months ago. Shammala was tweeting about his country, defending his people and revealing Israel's crimes committed on daily in Palestine.
Shammala said that in the last Israeli attack against Gaza Strip, he published a lot; he risked himself going out to the streets to cover the Israeli attacks against the Strip that night.
His tweets reached more than 250,000 people from all around the world in just one night and he was proud of that. But the next day when he got up, he was shocked that his account was permanently suspended by Twitter.
"I sent Twitter appeals asking them what's the matter, and to clarify their problem with me; they just respond:”you're breaking the rule and your account will never be restored," Shammala added.
Abdulraheem Alfarra, a Palestinian youth activist, has lost his Twitter account with 14,000 followers due to an arbitrary suspension by Twitter.
Alfarra said that because he is a Palestinian activist who published about the Palestinian cause, Twitter suspended his account.
In his speech, Alfarra wonders what the reasons behind the suspension of his account are. He said that may be because his tweets reached millions of people around the world.
He believes that because of that, Twitter permanently suspended his account. "I felt totally disappointed, but I will never give up; I will create my account and keep exposing the Israeli crimes committed against us," Alfarra added.
Alfarra is afraid that if his new account gets success, Twitter will suspend it once again. Saif Eldden Bitar, a pro-Palestinian activist, tweets about the Palestinian cause and makes it clear to the world that Israel oppresses the Palestinian people on a daily basis; Twitter suspended his account.
If we come to the rules that Bitar has broken, we will discover that his only fault that he defends Palestine and Palestinian people.
Bitar became popular on the Twitter platform where thousands of people followed him and waited for his tweets. It was clear that his tweets reached hundreds of thousands of people.
Bitar said that he woke up to find that his account has been suspended for no reason. Then he sent an appeal to Twitter to know what the problem is. Twitter responded that his account will not be restored because it was found to be violating the Twitter terms of service.
It was clear that Bitar was not breaking the Twitter terms of service, but he just tweeted about Palestine and the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation forces against Palestinian on daily basis.
Solidarity with Bitar
Some of the pro-Palestinian activists launched a "Twitter Storm" under the hashtags#UnsuspendBitarDeen and #ReinstateBitarDeen, calling Twitter to unsuspended Bitar’s Twitter account.
"Telling the truth about Israeli crimes is not forbidden," one of the activists tweeted in the hashtag.
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.
Despite many accounts already breaking Twitter's rules such as tweeting unethical and offensive stuff, Twitter blinds eye to it, and the smoking gun that there are many Israeli accounts which are tweeting propaganda against the Palestinians and were reported for million times, but Twitter didn't even draw attention to them.
Twitter is biased towards Israeli policy, and the clear evidence is the suspension of Palestinian activists' accounts as though Israel might buy or pay Twitter as it does with every aspect of its evil projects.
For now, these accounts are gone. But they will return — of course they do. In the face of adversity, Palestine and everything Palestinian, always returns.