Twitter suspends American Orthodox Jew for tweeting anti-Obama cartoon about Israel

David Martosko Executive Editor
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Without warning, Twitter suspended a series of three accounts owned by an Orthodox Jew from New York City Wednesday and Thursday, after one of them tweeted a cartoon depicting the Obama administration stabbing Israel in the back. The social media company refused to tell The Daily Caller if the cartoon was the reason it shut the accounts down.

Twitter also wouldn’t say why it hasn’t taken similar action against the terror group Hamas and its supporters for tweeting “Death to the Jews” and other threats of violence.

The suspended accounts, named @RealGazaPeace, @RealGazaPeace1 and @GazaRealStory, were all operated by 25-year-old Benjamin Reisman. “Social media sites have an awesome responsibility to keep to our right of free speech,” he told TheDC via email Friday.

He began tweeting this week with a single account, he said, adding a second and a third as Twitter canceled each one.

Only Reisman’s first account, however, tweeted the anti-Obama cartoon.

“Don’t worry Israel, Obama has your back,” Reisman tweeted Tuesday, linking to the image.

Many conservative American Jews have been critical of Obama for his positions on Israel, although the president captured roughly 70 percent of the overall Jewish vote on Nov. 6. His low-water mark may have come in November 2011 when an open microphone caught an exchange between Obama and France’s then-President Nicolas Sarkozy.

After Sarkozy was heard on the audio feed telling Obama that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is a liar,” Obama replied: “You’re fed up, but I have to deal with him every day.”

Still, Reismann told TheDC that he “should not have sent” the cartoon. But he added that he worries Twitter is applying its rules unevenly in a way that favors Hamas.

Archival records from Topsy.com show that at least 12 other Twitter users tweeted the same message with the same cartoon. None of the 12 TheDC identified has been suspended.

Twitter refused to tell TheDC why it suspended Reisman’s accounts, or whether they will be restored. “We don’t comment on individual accounts,” Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser said.

Under the heading “Violence and Threats,” Twitter’s published rules advise users that they “may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

Reisman, however, doesn’t believe Twitter is serious about applying that rule to supporters of Hamas or other pro-Palestinian forces.

“Enter ‘Hitler,’ ‘Death to Jews’ or any similar search” on Twitter, Reisman told TheDC, “and the volume of tweets, hate-filled and promoting death and violence, is quite shocking. I would just hope this rule is equally enforced to both sides.”

As Hamas launches its weapons from Gaza into Israel, and the Israelis prepare what looks like a formidable ground force on its border, social media accounts have become a key communications tool that both sides in the conflict — and their advocates — are using to rally support.

The Israeli Defense Force and Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, engage their Twitter followers regularly with hyperbolic and aggressive language, but the tweets generally fall short of making specific threats because neither side wants to telegraph its moves to the other ahead of time.

In one notable exception Wednesday, the IDF warned Hamas operatives to stay out of harm’s way. Al-Qassam responded with a threat that its missile strikes and other military operations “reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are.”

The al-Qassam Brigades appear to have violated Twitter’s published Terms of Service on many occasions, including one example from April 2011 in which it called for a “New Holocaust” against Jews.

Reisman told TheDC that three of his four grandparents were taken to concentration camps during World War II, “including stays in Auschwitz, Siberia and other camps.”

“I believe any threat to Jews, or areas with high Jewish population is never something to be taken lightly,” he said.

“When seeing all the baseless hate towards Israel, and calls for Hitler to come back and finish the job on Twitter, Twitter does not do anything (as perhaps they shouldn’t). However, when I try to support my people, and consistently get shut down[,] it makes me wonder if this is happening on a larger scale.”

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