JERUSALEM — Israeli lawmakers took Twitter to task for its apparent double standard in allowing Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeated calls for Israel’s destruction to go unpunished and urged the company to do more to protect Israelis and Jews from hate speech.
In a video meeting on Wednesday with Ylwa Pettersson, Twitter’s policy head for Israel and Nordic countries, Knesset members called her to task for not shutting down the Iranian leader’s account.
“You have recently started flagging the tweets of President Trump,” human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky said. “Why have you not flagged the tweets of Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, who has literally called for the genocide of Israel and the Jewish people?”
Khamenei’s posts have been chalked up to “saber rattling” by Twitter. Peterson said, in contrast, the U.S. President’s tweets could “inspire harm.” In May, Trump tweeted, referring to rioting in Minneapolis, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
“That tweet was violating our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of – of the last line of that tweet, and the risk that it could possibly inspire harm, and similar actions,” Pettersson said.
“We have an approach toward leaders that says that direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on military-economic issues are generally not in violation of our rules,” she said.
Knesset Member Michal Cotler-Wunsh pressed the issue.
“I just want to fine-tune [Ostrovsky’s] question: Calling for genocide on Twitter is okay, but commenting on the political situation in certain countries is not okay?” she asked Pettersson to clarify.
Twitter also suspended Donald Trump Jr.’s account after he tweeted a video promoting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus.
The New York Post noted the absurdity of the double standard: “The Twitter spokeswoman worked herself in a knot as she refused to answer why the platform had begun restricting the president’s tweets.”
Khamanei has called for “the final solution” against Israel, a “deadly, cancerous growth,” to be “uprooted and destroyed.” And as recently as May, he posted: “The long-lasting virus of Zionism will be uprooted thanks to the determination and faith of the youth.”
Ostrovosky later used the platform to express his disbelief at Pettersson’s response.
“I kid you not! At Knesset hearing on Antisemitism, @Twitter rep tells me they flag @realDonaldTrump because it serves ‘public conversation’, but not Iran’s @khamenei_ir call for GENOCIDE, which passes for acceptable ‘commentary on political issues of the day.”
I kid you not! At Knesset hearing on Antisemitism, @Twitter rep tells me they flag @realDonaldTrump because it serves ‘public conversation’, but not Iran's @khamenei_ir call for GENOCIDE, which passes for acceptable 'commentary on political issues of the day'. cc. @CotlerWunsh pic.twitter.com/AXwjkrvlql
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) July 29, 2020