Facebook announced on Thursday that it has removed an account purportedly belonging to someone called “Dana Ron.” The account had posted, “Bibi must be removed only by force ... Dictators are dislodged only with a bullet to the head!” The company said the account was discovered to be a fake after “an investigation conducted by our global teams overseas.” Moreover, it added, the post itself “violates our policy on advocating violence.”
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had publicly complained about this account; he also filed a complaint with the police. He even put a screenshot of this post on his Twitter account to emphasize the depths of the incitement against him.
Following his public complaint, social activist Yossi Dorfman began following the “Dana Ron” account. He later published the results of his own investigation, which similarly concluded that this persona was fictitious. He also found that the account’s most recent activity, which included updating “Dana Ron’s” biography, occurred during the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, when right-wing hooligans stabbed and beat people demonstrating against Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Amir Ohana. That same night, this fraudulent account put up seven posts, one after the other, apparently for the purpose of giving it as “left-wing” a character as possible.
Netanyahu is correct that even if an account belongs to someone totally unknown, “the police must locate him, bring him to justice and act with determination.” It is not legitimate to call for murdering the prime minister, and people who advocate violence should not be allowed to exploit the anonymity of social media to do so. But an investigation is equally necessary to ensure that the exact opposite isn’t happening – i.e., that right-wingers aren’t maintaining fictitious accounts purporting to belong to leftists and advocating attacks on Netanyahu or his associates to create a false symmetry between the proven violence of the right and the alleged violence of the left.
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This imaginary symmetry, which is currently serving as one of the right’s principal vehicles for incitement, must not be allowed to gain a foothold. The right to protest and demonstrate against the government is a fundamental democratic right. The violence committed by right-wing hooligans over the past week is not a democratic right, and it is not legitimate. The police must get to the bottom of the incitement on social media and bring the inciters to justice.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.