Instagram is attempting to silence Palestinian activism by deleting posts with the hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah. A village in East Jerusalem called Sheikh Jarrah is undergoing ethnic cleansing, and settlers are forcing residents to flee from their homes in a take-over of land and houses that do not belong to them. Israeli courts have allowed these settlers to raid Palestinian homes in an attempt to overtake the village. Once this happens, Palestinians are concerned that it would be only a matter of time before settlers are emboldened to take over East Jerusalem as well, and eventually Al-Aqsa.
A tweet by Mondoweiss stated, “In a matter of just two weeks, 6 Palestinian families – 27 people – from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah will be thrown out of their homes – replaced with Israeli settlers. Residents are doubling down on the #SaveSheikhJarrah campaign.”
The families of these homes went to court to appeal this order to vacate, however the Israeli District Court ordered them all to leave their homes by May 2, 2021. If they do not leave, they will be forcibly removed by Israeli forces. At this time, the courts have postponed the removal until May 10, 2021.
This is not the first time families have been forcibly removed from the area. It happened in 2002, where 43 family members were removed, and again in 2008, 2009, and 2017. And how are they able to do this? The settlers are creating fake deeds, certain that the courts will be on their side, just as they have been in the past.
The attempt to take over the area of Sheikh Jarrah has been ongoing since 1972. The area is strategically placed, as it inches these settlers towards taking over Al Aqsa. Settler organizations continue to file lawsuits against families living in Sheikh Jarrah, claiming the land originally belonged to them. Palestinian residents of the area continue to present documents proving their ownership of the land and homes, but they are ignored by Israeli District Courts. As such, Israeli settlers have taken over these homes illegally. These takeovers are illegal under International Law and the Geneva Convention.
Some lawmakers in the U.S., including our very own Palestinian Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, have been voicing their concerns over the matter in Sheikh Jarrah. In a recent twitter post she wrote. “Hundreds of Palestinians are on the verge of being kicked out of their homes by the Israeli government right now. Join me in demanding Palestinians be able to remain on their own land.” She then linked a petition for people to sign.
Other state representatives voicing their concerns include Rep. Cori Bush, Rep. Debbie Dingle, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Chuy Garcia, Rep. Marie Newman, Rep. Mark Pocan, and Rep. Betty McCollum.
Meanwhile, Instagram has resorted to deleting posts by people using the hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah on their platform.
As the posts states, “…dozens of messages on Instagram from people whose posts and stories regarding Sheikh Jarrah and Palestine were removed without warning or explanation. Palestinians are being censored in real time.” Hundreds of reports have been reported at this time of deleted posts.
In another tweet, Dr. Yara Hawari stated, “This is not a conspiracy, this is not a fluke. Social media companies have been & will always be antiethical to revolution & resistance. #SaveSheikhJarrah”
While millions of people, including Palestinians and supporters of Palestine, make Instagram their social media platform of choice, it may be time to consider a new platform if Instagram doesn’t make amends. Censorship on posts regarding illegal occupation, apartheid, and oppression should not be accepted. Let Instagram know that you are not participating in anti-Semitism by protesting against Israeli illegal occupation. Make sure you continue to stand your ground and join others by posting #SaveSheikhJarrah in the campaign to end the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.