TikTok ban far-right Jewish group for third time in a year

TikTok ban far-right Jewish group for third time in a year
2 min read
17 August, 2021
Lehava, an anti-assimilation far-right Jewish group, has been banned on TikTok three times in the past year after posting videos that 'incite violence'.
TikTok said 'safety of the members of our community is our first priority' [Getty-file photo]

TikTok removed the account of a far-right Jewish group Lehava this month, for the third time in the past year. 

The social media giant made the decision after Mehazkim, a non-profit left-wing movement, filed a complaint against the group. 

No official reason was given for the decision, but Mehazhim hinted that the reason related to their leader, Bentzi Gopstein, for "incit[ing] violence against Arabs and using TikTok to spread hate speech", according to a report by Haaretz

Lehava is an anti-assimilation group that opposes intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews, as well as LGBT rights.

During the violence in Gaza in May "we saw how Lehava set the street on fire with the help of WhatsApp groups, Telegram and their TikTok account", said Ori Kol, founding director of Mehazkim. 

"The incitement worked and blood was spilled. Now TikTok is acting responsibly when they removed the users who encourage terror," Kol said. 

 TikTok said in a statement that the safety of its members was their "first priority". 

"We do not allow any offensive content or hatred on the platform," the statement read. 

Perspectives

Lehava was first removed from TikTok in October 2020, just days after they started their first account.

After a number of their videos were blocked, TikTok informed the group that their account would be shut down because of "repeated violations of community standards". 

"You can find all the trash on TikTok but to talk about assimilation is forbidden there. A disgrace," Gopstein wrote at the time.

A few months later, Lehava opened a different account on Tik Tok which it used to post videos about violence between Jews and Arabs and to enlist activists.

 The group organised a march through occupied Jerusalem in late April, where far-right activists chanted "Death to Arabs!". More than 100 Palestinians were wounded in the resulting clashes.

Mehazhim made a complaint in May against the far-right group on TikTok, but Lehava continued to operate. 

The left-wing movement is also calling for Lehava to be labelled as a terrorist organisation. 

While Israel’s Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit have met to discuss a possible terrorist designation, a matter Bar-Lev said is "under examination", Mehazkim states that the responsibility lies with Israel's Defence Minister Benny Gantz. 

"Regarding [Lehava] being a terrorist organisation - we hope that Grantz will wake up soon and declare them as such," wrote Kol on Facebook on 14 August. 

The New Arab reached out to TikTok for further comment on this article but did not receive a response by the time of writing.