Monday, May 31, 2021

The Impact of the Pandemic on Global Debt

A recent publication by the Institutes of International Finance (IIF) gives us a clear picture of the dangers that government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have created.  Let's look at some highlights from the report.  I'll break this posting into two parts; the first will look at debt in dollar terms and the second part will look at debt as a percentage of GDP.


1.) Global debt in dollar terms:  Thanks to the pandemic, total global debt for the 61 nations in the IIF's sample has increased in 2020 from $257 trillion to $281 trillion, a new record high.  Mature markets (i.e. advanced economies) are responsible for $205 trillion of this debt, up from $183 trillion in 2019.   Debt outside of the financial sector rose from $194 trillion in 2019 to $214 trillion in 2020.


Government debt accounted for more than half of the increase in total debt, rising by over $12 trillion compared to a rise of $4.3 trillion in 2019.  Mature markets saw the biggest increases in government debt, rising by $10.7 trillion thanks to governments' fiscal response to the pandemic and the decline in tax revenues.  The IIF expects that government budgetary deficits will continue to remain well above normal, pre-pandemic levels, with government debt increasing by another $10 trillion in 2021, reaching $92 trillion by the end of 2021.


Here is a table summarizing the debt in dollar terms for mature and emerging markets, comparing the 2019 and 2020 fourth quarter data:


2.) Global debt as a percentage of GDP:  On a global basis, government debt rose from 88.3 percent of GDP in Q4 2019 to 105.4 percent in Q4 2020.  Mature market economies saw their government debt rise by 20.7 percentage points (15.9 percent) to 130.4 percent of GDP in Q4 2020 compared to a rise of 11.1 percentage points (21.1 percent) to 63.5 percent of GDP in Q4 2020.  Non-financial private sector debt (households and corporate debt combined) rose by 41 percentage points to 165 percent of GDP in Q4 2020 and financial corporate debt saw its largest annual increase in debt ratios in over a decade, rising by 5 percentage points to 86 percent of GDP in Q4 2020.  This is the largest increase since 2007 and the first annual increase since 2016.


Mature markets saw the biggest increases in debt ratios during 2020 (outside of the financial sector).  The rapid buildup in debt was largely due to increases in government debt in mature markets, particularly in Greece, Spain the United Kingdom and Canada.  In emerging markets, China saw the largest increase in non-financial debt ratios followed by Turkey, Korea and the UAE.  South Africa and India recorded the largest increases in government debt ratios.


When looking at overall debt-to-GDP ratios, the ten largest increases were noted as follows (in order from greatest to least):


1.) France


2.) Spain


3.) Greece


4.) United Kingdom


5.) Belgium


6.) Cyprus 


7.) Canada


8.) Italy 


9.) Portugal


10.) United States


Here is a breakdown of debt as a percentage of GDP by sector/nation:


Looking forward, the IIF projects that the highest fiscal deficits in 2021 will occur in the following nations (in order from greatest to least):


1.) South Africa


2.) United States


3.) Australia


4.) China


5.) United Kingdom


6.) India


7.) Japan


8.) Spain


9.) Canada


10.) France


One has to wonder how long the global mountain of debt can continue to grow without causing significant pain to the global economy.  If the proponents of Modern Monetary Theory are to be believed, governments that control their own currencies can continue to increase their debt without any negative repercussions, however, the theory is completely unproven and, if its proponents are wrong, will lead to extreme levels of economic pain for individuals, corporations and governments.  The ongoing growth in debt at all levels will prove to be particularly problematic if interest rates rise or economic growth slows markedly, neither of which can be counted out.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

How Far Will Governments and the Technology Tyrants Go to Control the Narrative?

Just months before the global pandemic, a group of individuals participated in a high-level tabletop exercise called Event 201, simulating a hypothetical but scientifically possible global pandemic as shown here:


Here is a brief description of the Event 201 scenario:


"Event 201 simulates an outbreak of a novel zoonotic coronavirus transmitted from bats to pigs to people that eventually becomes efficiently transmissible from person to person, leading to a severe pandemic. The pathogen and the disease it causes are modeled largely on SARS, but it is more transmissible in the community setting by people with mild symptoms.


The disease starts in pig farms in Brazil, quietly and slowly at first, but then it starts to spread more rapidly in healthcare settings. When it starts to spread efficiently from person to person in the low-income, densely packed neighborhoods of some of the megacities in South America, the epidemic explodes. It is first exported by air travel to Portugal, the United States, and China and then to many other countries. Although at first some countries are able to control it, it continues to spread and be reintroduced, and eventually no country can maintain control."


Here is a list of the players who represent a wide range of business, government and academic backgrounds and nationalities:

In addition, the following people are members of the exercise team:


"Eric Toner, MD, is the exercise team lead from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Crystal Watson, DrPH, MPH and Tara Kirk Sell, PhD, MA are co-leads from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Ryan Morhard, JD, is the exercise lead from the World Economic Forum, and Jeffrey French is the exercise lead for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Exercise team members are Tom Inglesby, MD; Anita Cicero, JD; Randy Larsen, USAF (retired); Caitlin Rivers, PhD, MPH; Diane Meyer, RN, MPH; Matthew Shearer, MPH; Matthew Watson; Richard Bruns, PhD; Jackie Fox; Andrea Lapp; Margaret Miller; Carol Miller; and Julia Cizek."


Here is a screen capture showing the partners involved in Event 201, noting the presence of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which was represented by Jeffrey French, a program leader for the Gates Foundation as shown here:


Event 201 also received funding from the Open Philanthropy Project, which is funded by Cari Tuna and Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook and a billionaire worth $20.3 billion and owner of a 2 percent stake in Facebook according to Forbes


With that background, let's look at one of the issues that was discussed during Event 201.  As we all are aware, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the technology/social media sector has been very involved in eliminating any discussions that it deems are disinformation about the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccines, treatment options that do not include vaccination (i.e. hydrochloroquine, vitamin D and ivermectin), the existence of the novel coronavirus, the use of govenrment-mandated lockdowns and shutterings and any other issues that do not fit their narrative.  Oddly enough, this exact issue came up during Event 201 as recorded in a transcript dated September 23, 2020, nearly one year after the exercise.


Noting that CAPS stands for the fictional Coronavirus Acute Pulmonary Syndrome as shown here: are some quotes from the transcript which records the exchange between participants during the "fourth and final meeting of the Pandemic Emergency Board on December 18, 2019" with all bolds being mine:

"Tom Inglesby:


We have called this meeting today because of major strategic problems around communication that are happening globally, and here's a immediate debate that just happened on air today.


Chen Huang:


Alarming news emerging from social media companies today about the CAPS pandemic, Twitter and Facebook are reporting. They've identified and deleted a disturbing number of accounts dedicated to spreading this information about the outbreak. For more on this, we go to our correspondent: Catalina Parks.


Catalina Parks:


Chen, these accounts were created by several state-sponsored groups intending to sew political discord and some individuals are seemingly seeking to gain financial advantages. Violence against healthcare workers and minority populations has been increasing. A recent riot highlights the real danger in these posts. Countries are reacting in different ways as to how best to manage the overwhelming amounts of dis- and misinformation circulating over the Internet. In some cases, limited Internet shutdowns are being implemented to quell panic....


Kevin McAleese:


To me, it is clear countries need to make strong efforts to manage both mis- and disinformation. We know social media companies are working around the clock to combat these disinflation campaigns. The task of identifying every bad actor is immense. Experts agree that new disinformation campaigns are being generated every day. This is a huge problem that's going to keep us from ending the pandemic and might even lead to the fall of governments, as we saw in the Arab spring. If the solution means controlling and reducing access to information, I think it's the right choice....


Dr. Sell:


Polls have shown that mis- and disinformation are ubiquitous: at least 90% of the public has been exposed to these messages. At the same time, misinformation messages come from a variety of sources, even government officials, and often governments are contradicting one another. We know that social media is now the primary way that many people get their news, so interruptions to these platforms could curb the spread of misinformation, but could also limit access to information from legitimate sources.


Dr. Sell:


Health ministries around the world are attempting to combat mis- and disinformation by amplifying public health messaging through social and traditional media, but they are being outpaced by false and misleading information. National governments are considering, or have already implemented, a range of interventions to combat misinformation. Some governments have taken control of national access to the Internet. Others are censoring websites and social media content and a small number have shut down internet access completely to prevent the spread of misinformation. Penalties have been put in place for spreading harmful falsehoods, including arrests.


Dr. Sell:


Other countries have taken a more moderate approach and have focused on promoting fact-checking efforts and working with traditional media outlets. Yet, these approaches are limited in scope. Social media companies report that they're doing all they can to limit the use of their platforms for nefarious or misleading purposes. But this is a technically difficult problem and false misleading, or half true information, is difficult to sort without limiting potentially true messages. The bottom line is that members of the public no longer know who to trust. Both the misinformation and the measures to control it have led to a crisis of confidence....


Martin Knuchel:


Thank you. I fully agree that this is pure crisis communication and crisis communication today, also social media is part of it. And just to limit or even stop social media would create a huge damage. We should use it; we should get it on our side; we should work together with them and we should try to avoid this misinformation....


Tom Inglesby:


In this case, do you think governments are at the point where they need to require social media companies to operate in a certain way? I hear you saying social media companies should not be impaired, but do they need to operate under different conditions? I think Matt alluded to that as well.


Martin Knuchel:


Yes, I will say that there are specific conditions now and we have to find a way to cooperate and to have to find solutions for this, but not to hamper them.


If you wish to read the entire transcript of this portion of the meeting, you can find it here.


Isn't it fascinating to see that the very issue of pandemic disinformation that flooded the internet during the mock pandemic exercise which led to the necessity for governments and social media companies both shut down and censor the internet is exactly what has happened over the past 14 months?  How long will it be  before life imitates art and our access to the internet is completely shut down by governments in a desperate attempt to control  and protect their own COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine narrative.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Sharing America's Defense Technology with China

While it didn't garner much global attention, one of America's larger multinational conglomerates was recently found guilty of sharing secrets with China, the newest threat to Washington's dominance as the world's sole superpower.


Here are the lead pages of the charging letter from the Department of State for Honeywell International Inc.'s alleged violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) as found on the U.S. Department of State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls website:


Honeywell twice voluntarily reported that it was responsible for ITAR violations between July 2011 and October 2015 and again between June and July 2018.  All of the violations involved the unauthorized exports or retransfers of technical data resulting from the "failure to exercise appropriate internal controls."


Between 2011 and 2015, Honeywell Aerospace's Integrated Supply Chain organization sent Requests for Quotations to U.S. and foreign suppliers which contained drawings of parts for which suppliers were asked to supply price quotations.  By March 2017, Honeywell's internal investigation identified 71 ITAR-controlled drawings that had been exported to Canada, Ireland, the People's Republic of China and Taiwan.  These drawings contained engineering prints showing layouts, dimensions and geometries for manufacturing castings and finished parts for (but not limited to) the following aircraft:


F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,


B-1B Lancer Long-Range Strategic Bomber,


F-22 Fighter Aircraft,


C-130 Military Transport Aircraft,


A-7H Corsair Aircraft,


A-10 Aircraft,


Apache Longbow Helicopter,


M1A1 Abrams Tank,


Tactical Tomahawk Missile, and


T55 Turboshaft Engine


After reviewing the 71 drawings, the U.S. government determined that exports to and retransfers in the PRC of drawings for certain parts and components for the engine platforms for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, B-1B Lancer Long-Range Strategic Bomber, and the F-22 Fighter Aircraft harmed U.S. national security.


In its second voluntary disclosure Honeywell described additional ITAR violations involving the additional exporting of 2 drawings to Canada, 2 drawings to the People's Republic of China and 23 drawings to Mexico which contained similar technical information as in the first offence for the following aircraft:


F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,


F/A-18 Hornet,


F135 turboshaft engine,


F414 turboshaft engine,


T55 turboshaft engine, and


CTS800 turboshaft engine.


In these cases, after reviewing the documents, the U.S. government determined that exports to and retransfers in the PRC of drawings for certain parts and components of the CTS800 gas turbine engine harmed U.S. national security.


Charges were laid as follows:


Now, let's look at the penalties that were assessed as released by the Department of State on May 3, 2021:


A $13 million settlement for a company that had net income of $4.865 billion in 2020 is laughable at best as shown here:



Just for fun, let's look at Honeywell's  involvement in Washington's political theatre.  Thanks to Open Secrets, here is a summary of Honeywell's campaign contributions going back to 1990:


Honeywell's campaign contributions of nearly $4.7 million during the 2020 election campaign put it into 143rd place out of 21,691 contributors in Open Secret's database.


Here is a summary of Honeywell's spending on lobbying:


Honeywell's lobbying expenditures of $4.7 million put it into 71st place out of 5,561 lobbying groups in Open Secret's database.


So, as you can see, if you spend enough money on getting Washington to see things your way, somehow, Washington will find your "sins" nearly forgivable or at least forgivable after you pay a token sum to "buy" your way out of trouble, particularly if you are a key player in the nation's military-industrial complex.

Or, maybe it's all just a happy coincidence.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Vaccinating Children - No Parental Approval Required

Canada is among the world's leading nations when it comes to vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 17.  Let's look at how Canada's provinces, the providers of health care in the nation, are handling the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in their jurisdiction.

To put all of this posting into perspective, here is a graphic from the Government of Canada showing the number of deaths related to COVID-19 by age group:

In Canada, only 11 children aged 19 and under have died with COVID-19.

Now, let's look at this information about Ontario's experience with COVID-19 from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms showing how few COVID deaths there have been for people under the age of 40:

With that background, let's look at Manitoba and its program to vaccinate young Canadians.  Here is the COVID-19 Immunization for Young People's webpage on the Manitoba government's website:


There are currently 111,000 Manitobans between the ages of 12 and 17 who will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  

Now, with the "devil being in the details", let's look at who can make the appointment for a vaccination for a child between the ages of 12 and 17?  Here is a quote from the website:


"Anyone who is eligible can make their own appointment. Parents, caregivers and guardians can also make an appointment on behalf of their child."


In other words, 12 year olds can make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination on their own, with or without parental approval.  In fact, as is pointed out quite clearly, parents are not required to attend their child's appointment and can attend only if they are able to.  As well, children do not have to supply a form of identification to qualify for a vaccine which means that a child under the age of 12 with the physical characteristics of an older child may be given the vaccine inadvertently.


Here is the government's response to a question about who can sign the consent form for children between the ages of 12 and 17:  


"Young people aged 16 and 17 can sign their own consent form. To make the visit as easy as possible, it is ideal if young people aged 12 to 15 can either attend the appointment with a parent, guardian or caregiver or have their parent sign their consent form ahead of time to bring along. However, if the youth attends without a guardian and without a signed consent form, they can go through an informed consent process with a clinical lead to assess their ability to consent on their own and proceed with the vaccine."

Here is a screen capture showing this information just in case it disappears or changes:


In other words, a 12-year-old Manitoban does not have to receive parental approval to receive their COVID-19 vaccination and will go through an informed consent process with a clinician.


Now, let's look at Ontario, Canada's largest province.  Here is what appears on the Ontario government's "COVID-19 vaccines for youth" webpage:


Starting May 23, all youth between 12 and 17 years of age and their family members who have not received a vaccine are eligible to book an appointment to receive their first dose of the Pfizer.  While it isn't as clearly spelled out as int he case of Manitoba, Ontario is allowing children between the ages of 12 and 17 to book their own appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine.

For an even clearer explanation of what 12-year-olds are allowed to do in Ontario, let's look at the "Book your appointment" webpage for the Region of Peel, located to the north and west of Toronto:


Again, children down to and including the age of 12 are allowed to make their own appointment and the assumption is that by agreeing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, they understand why the vaccine is being administered and its risks and benefits.  To the best of my knowledge, even during the poliomyiletis scare of the 1950s, children were not allowed to make their own appointments for vaccination.  

There are three things that are important to remember:


1.) Children (and as the pandemic is proving, adults) are highly subject to peer pressure; if their friends are being vaccinated, they are quite likely to feel pressure to follow their peers' lead.


2.) Children have a very limited concept of risk-reward or informed consent.  With the majority of adults barely understanding the nature of the COVID-19 vaccines, how can clinicians and politicians expect that children will be able to understand the potential risks of mRNA vaccines especially given that the vaccines will not be fully tested for at least another year or more?

3.) With Big Pharma being indemnified for any health issues that may result from COVID-19 vaccines, who will pay for the care of children that may be harmed over the medium- and long-term from administration of these experimental vaccines.


To the best of my knowledge, even during the poliomyeletis scare of the 1950s, children were not allowed to make their own appointments for vaccination.  By doing this, the state is taking over the rights of parents to determine what is best for their children.


Let's close this posting with a tweet from Dr. Andrew Babak Boozary, a family physician in Canada:

Free ice cream and a live DJ for a one second jab with a needle - it doesn't get any better than that!  But, then again, didn't our parents warn us repeatedly about the dangers of taking sweets from strangers?  After all, we all know for a fact that Big Pharma has never done anything that would put any of its customers at any risk.

Friday, May 21, 2021

How Social Media Companies are Suppressing the Voice of Palestinians

Over the past two years, it has become increasingly apparent that social media companies are using their clout to control the narrative to suit its own purposes, particularly when it came to stifling Donald Trump and his followers and the substantial portion of the population that does not believe the mainstream views on the pandemic and the use of mRNA and other experimental vaccines.  While it receives little attention from the mainstream media, social media companies are also using their substantial powers to control the pro-Israel/anti-Palestinian narrative as you will see in this posting.


First, let's look at a position paper entitled "Systematic Efforts to Silence Palestinian Content on Social Media" by Mona Shtaya, a member of the 7amleh Advisory Council, a Palestinian Digital Activism Forum.  Shtaya opens by noting that, following the Palestinian popular uprising, in 2015, Palestinian contest began to disappear from social networks particularly Facebook, Twitter and Google.  This content included issues regarding Palestinian rights and Israeli human rights violations and removal of this information was used to delegitimize and silence Palestinian voices.  Here is a quote from the paper showing how Israel has played a role in this removal with all bolds throughout this posting being mine: 


Since 2015, Israel has been developing new ministries and special units that report Palestinian content to social media companies. In 2015, the Israeli Ministry of Justice developed a special ‘Cyber Unit’ to support Israel’s National Cyber Crime Unit (Lahav 433) and the Israeli Law, Information and Technology Authority at the Ministry of Justice. 8 The Cyber Unit is also responsible for making requests -- based on the alleged violations of domestic laws, as well as the companies own guidelines, terms and standards -- to tech companies like Facebook and Google. Even though Adalah and ACRI argued that the Cyber Unit cannot submit “voluntary” requests to bypass constitutional and administrative norms, including transparency and due process, these processes continue and as a result of Israeli efforts, large amounts of Palestinian content has been taken down and severe limitations on freedom of expression and opinion have been imposed by Facebook and other social media companies.


There are also a number of government-operated non-governmental organizations (GONGOs) which are working with citizens and supporters to report Palestinian content and have it removed from social networks as quoted here:


Several of these government-operated non-governmental organizations are working to conflate criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and hate speech and have designed strategies to manipulate social media algorithms with the support of online trolls. Their work includes both efforts to take down content critical of Israel and supporting Palestinian human rights, as well as working to promote content intended to smear Palestinians that includes disinformation, incitement and hate speech directed towards Palestinians. One of the first trolling groups was started by the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) and the Israeli American Council (an American NGO that is backed by the settler supporting mega-donor Sheldon Adelson), ACT.IL. Tested during Israel’s 2012 and 2014 attacks on Gaza, which resulted in thousands of civilian deaths, ACT.IL was designed to coordinate groups of online trolls to report and share content that includes disinformation and hate speech directed towards PalestiniansToday the online platform includes 15,000 active members and has offices in three countries.  In addition, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, developed a similar application,, in June 2017. These trolls are instructed to rally against Palestinian content and report it for takedowns, to spread misleading or even at times misinformation, or to smear human rights defenders, organizations and activists.


Shtaya notes that in 2017, the Israeli government developed a "Facebook Bill" (The Bill for the Removal From the Internet of Content Whose Publication Constitutes an Offense) which pressured social media companies to comply with Israel's broad definition of "incitement".  This bill would have granted Israeli courts the power to block content at the request of the government and would have issued orders to delete contact if it "harmed the human safety, public, economic, state or vital infrasctuructre safety" and would have paved the way for legal action against social media companies which disseminated this content including the imposition of significant fines and the banning of these platforms from Israel.  At the last minute, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to halt the progress of the bill because it severely infringed on the principle of freedom of expression. 


Here are some examples of policies that Facebook has development about extremist content.: 


Facebook, under their “Dangerous Organizations and Individuals Policy,” developed their own definition, which includes organizations or individuals involved in “terrorist activity, organized hate, mass murder (including attempts) or multiple murder, human trafficking and organized violence or criminal activity.”  This content, as well as content that expresses support or praise for groups, leaders, or individuals involved in these activities, is removed by the company. However, Facebook’s policies related to extremism are also removing the word martyr (people who have been murdered by Israel) or some martyrs names and key political speech including the Arabic word muqawama (resistance). As neither the United States nor the Palestinian law criminalizes this kind of political speech, this shows how Facebook is going beyond their legal obligations and expanding their censorship of Palestinian content to include Israeli definitions, which are beyond minimum legal standards, further violating Palestinian’s human rights and digital rights.


One other issue that Palestininans face in the social media space is the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) which was founded in 2017 with this goal: 


Here are the players and the scope of their work:


While, on the surface, this may appear to be a good thing, the devil is always in the details as outlined here from the Shtaya paper:


Initially founded by Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube, and Twitter today the GIFCT has grown to include increasing numbers of tech companies. Together they contribute to a database that includes over 200 million pieces of content. While GIFCT is most often criticized for lack of transparency, in addition, the GIFCT has supported a network of research institutions whose partners are known to support counter-terrorism narratives that equate criticism of Israel or support for Palestinian rights to calls for incitement to violence. This includes the Brookings Institution (United States), whose Saban Center for Middle East Policy was established by Haim Saban, a known pro-Israel supporter who uses his vast media network to spread pro-Israel propaganda. The institute is currently directed by Martin Indyk, a well known pro-Israel lobbyist and American diplomat who founded the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel GONGO started by the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and known to be a "part of the core" of the pro-Israeli lobby in the United States. The network also includes the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (Israel), which is a project of the IDC Herzliya, and which most recently published a paper entitled, “The Virus of Hate: Far-Right Terrorism in Cyberspace” which attempts to draw connections between neo-Nazi’s, white supremacists and pro-Palestinian Facebook groups. Other members of the research network supported by GIFCT include the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (Netherlands), Swansea University (UK), the Observer Research Foundation (India), the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (Israel) and the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (Indonesia).


Terrorism is always in the eyes of the beholder and, in the case of Palestinians and Israelis, each describes the other's actions as acts of terror.


Let's move on to look at another organization's comments on social media and Palestinian issues.  Access Now is a group that "defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world" using the following:

In a May 7, 2021 press release, Kassem Mnejja and Marwa Fatafta weighed in on how Facebook and Twitter were silencing users who were protesting and documenting the evictions of Palestinians in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem as shown here:


Here is a quote from the press release:


Facebook and Twitter are systematically silencing users protesting and documenting the evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem. We demand Facebook and Twitter to immediately stop these takedowns, reinstate affected content and accounts, and provide a clear and public explanation for why the content was removed. 


In the past days, people have taken to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to document and denounce Israeli police brutalityand violent attacks by Jewish settlers against Palestinian activists and residents who are peacefully protesting against the imminent threat of being evicted from their homes. 


In a rapid escalation, hundreds of posts and accounts documenting these violations, have been deleted on Instagram and Twitter. The scale of these content takedowns and account suspensions reported by users and documented by digital rights organizations is egregious and pronounced. 


Facebook and Twitter have not provided any explanation to their users for these actions. Instagram, for instance, has removed hundreds of stories related to Sheikh Jarrah including archived posts. The platforms’ arbitrary and non-transparent decisions constitute a serious violation of Palestinians’ fundamental rights including their right to freedom of expression, and their right to freedom of association and assembly online, which both Facebook and Twitter have pledged to honor in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Though work is being done to escalate these cases with Facebook and Twitter, timing is critical - users from Sheikh Jarrah have made it clear that without the world’s attention they would be in even more danger. We demand Facebook and Twitter to immediately stop censoring and reinstate the accounts and content of Palestinian voices. These companies must open an investigation into these takedowns, and transparently and publicly share the investigations."


The authors of the press release go on to note the following:


This latest spate of content takedowns is part of a wider pattern of consistent censorship of Palestinian and allied voices and systematic efforts to silence them, which civil society organizations have documented for years. Similar past cases related to takedown of Palestinian speech on these platforms have been attributed to requests by Israel’s Cyber Unit, an internet referral unit whose mission is to submit ’voluntary’ requests to social media companies for content removal.


The press release closes with this:


We, the undersigned organizations, urgently call on Facebook and Twitter to:


1.) Immediately open an investigation into those cases, as well as transparently and publicly share reasons behind takedown of accounts and posts related to Sheikh Jarrah;


2.) Immediately reinstate all accounts and content currently taken offline in breach of international standards on freedom of expression;


3.) Provide transparency on the decision-making processes involved in content takedowns related to Palestine;


4.) Publicly commit to resist government and court orders in breach of international standards on freedom of expression;


5.) Publish detailed data on requests submitted by the Israeli Cyber Unit including numbers of complaints received, content removal, account suspensions and other content restrictions, together with details on the category of content that was removed and/or reinstated; and


6.) Commit to the baseline principles set forth in the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation.





Access Now

Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE)


Center for Constitutional Rights

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Free Speech on Israel

Friends of Sabeel North America

Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

INSMnetwork – Iraq

Jewish Network for Palestine

Jewish Voice for Peace



Masaar-Technology and Law Community


MILEN – Media and Information Literacy Expert Network


MPower Change

Pen Iraq

Ranking Digital Rights



The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)

United Methodists’ Holy Land Task Force


Let's close this posting with this final quote from the 7amleh paper:


"For years the exact numbers of takedowns have been unclear. However, recently, as a result of a request for information issued in accordance with Israel’s access to information law, the Israeli government stated that from 2017 - 2018 Israel’s direct requests to social media companies led to the deletion of 27,000 posts from Facebook, Twitter and Google. Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minorities Rights in Israel reported that the Israeli Ministry of Justice made tens of thousands of requests to content intermediaries like Facebook and Google to censor the Palestinian narrative.  While these efforts are not exclusively focused on Palestinian content, the Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked stated that “Facebook, Google, and YouTube are complying with up to 95% of Israel’s requests to ​delete content that the Israeli government says incites Palestinian violence.​” This shows a significant focus on Palestinian content and efforts to label Palestinian political speech as incitement to violence.


The attempts by social media companies to silence the Palestinian narrative should surprise no one given the companies' track records when it comes to controlling the American political and COVID-19 narratives.  Why anyone allows these companies to control anything is beyond my comprehension given that their actions are so blatantly biased.