SYDNEY (JTA) — A Jewish leader in Australia blasted Facebook for continuing to allow access to a page that “constitutes hate speech against Jews.”
Peter Wertheim, the executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, lashed out at the social networking platform Thursday after a spokesman defended the organization’s right to publish the “Jewish memes” page even though it is now inaccessible from Australia.
The page, which was established Aug. 30, was withdrawn in Australia last month following a chorus of condemnation, including criticism from Race Relations Commissioner Dr. Helen Szoke, who said Facebook could be in breach of local racial vilification legislation.
The page includes depictions of Jews as fodder for gas chambers and a photo of Anne Frank with the message, “What’s that burning? Oh it’s my family.”
It also features an “apology” addressed to “any Jewish person who is offended by our jokes” that says “You are not special because you suffered. Shut your self-serving mouths and get over it.”
But a Facebook spokesman told JTA that while the content is “incredibly distasteful,” it does not violate its terms.
“Hate speech against protected categories is against Facebook’s terms,” the spokesman said. “However, humorous content is still allowed to target those categories.
“Ultimately, this is an issue of free speech — these pages are clearly offensive to some but as they are not targeting individuals, are based on humor and make no credible threat of violence they will not be removed.”
In response, Wertheim said it was “an indictment of Facebook” that it cannot understand the content “constitutes hate speech.”
Wertheim added that “Facebook would do well to remember the admonition of the internationally renowned human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler that the Holocaust did not begin with deeds, it began with words.”