7amleh, an NGO based in Haifa, describes itself as “a non-profit organization that advocates for Palestinian digital rights.” Among other activities, 7amleh runs a major political campaign alleging that Palestinians and pro-Palestinian individuals face structural discrimination on social media platforms, such as “censorship,” especially when writing in Arabic. This campaign attempts to rollback social media restrictions on antisemitism and pro-terror sentiments.
7amleh, with an annual budget of NIS 4.4 million, is funded by the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Canada, Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Germany), Open Society Foundation, and UNICEF. (In October 2023, the Foreign Ministry of Switzerland suspended funding pending an investigation.)
Although 7amleh has the status of a “trusted partner” with Meta, providing direct and preferred access on content-related issues in the region, NGO Monitor’s research has shown that the NGOs anti-Israel campaigning, support for violence, and incendiary social media content is entirely inconsistent with this status. In particular, NGO Monitor documented 7amleh’s high-pressure lobbying campaign directed at Meta regarding content moderation during earlier Gaza conflicts.
As this report demonstrates, 7amleh’s activity since October 7 reflects similar patterns, seeking to pressure Meta into abandoning its content moderation criteria for posts promoting terrorism. In addition, the social media accounts of several 7amleh employees contain highly offensive posts.
In the context of virulent antisemitic content on social media and violent attacks worldwide, we note the disturbing and counterproductive role of 7amleh. A “trusted” relationship between this NGO and social media platforms directly contradicts the November 6, 2023 statement from 30 antisemitism envoys calling on social media companies to act in order to prevent the “antisemitic messages, disinformation, hate speech, and terrorist content, which instigate real world hate crimes and threaten the very social cohesion that binds our democratic societies together.”
Gaslighting and Erasing Palestinian Terror Incitement
On November 1, 7amleh published a 13-page “Briefing on the Palestinian Digital Rights Situation since October 7th, 2023,” alleging “censorship of Palestinian voices” on social media and other online platforms. According to 7amleh, there has been a “significant and disproportionate censorship of Palestinian voices, which severely restricts freedom of expression and access to information, more direly so with journalists and human rights defenders. This is compounded by the one-sided and context-lacking portrayal of the region’s situation by mainstream media.”
7amleh’s analysis proceeds as if Palestinian and Arabic-language incitement and antisemitism on social media platforms does not exist. In 7amleh’s retelling, Palestinian and pro-Palestinian accounts are censored when they are “critical of the Israeli government or express support for Palestinian rights” or show “solidarity with Gaza.”
For instance, 7amleh complains that there have been “283 censorship violations on Meta’s Instagram, Facebook, and whatsapp…mainly Restrictions and Content Takedown…[and] cases where pages were completely taken down and users were suspended and not allowed to appeal.” 7amleh does not define “censorship” in this context, does not present any evidence that Meta’s Community Standards were incorrectly applied, and does not suggest criteria to determine whether content is legitimate or harmful.
7amleh also refers to “the arrest and interrogation of Palestinians for their social media activities.” According to 7amleh, but without providing any examples, “Numerous cases have emerged where individuals have been apprehended [by Israel] simply for expressing their views or opinions on various digital platforms.” Once again, there is no way to know whether these “views or opinions” are protected speech or amount to incitement to violence.
In this respect, 7amleh’s approach is a form of gaslighting, essentially denying that Jews and Israelis are being systematically targeted by vicious online antisemitism and threats of violence from “Palestinian voices.” Anecdotally – reflecting capacity limitations in detailed monitoring of social media platforms for hateful content – NGO Monitor staff encountered multiple Palestinian Arabic-language Facebook posts celebrating the October 7 massacre and its perpetrators, suggesting a lack of enforcement and directly contradicting the claims by 7amleh.
(7amleh’s one-sided campaign is not confined to Facebook. 7amleh claims that “Since the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk, the platform [now called “X”] has become a hotbed for hate speech and incitement to violence against Palestinians.” In contrast, an ADL analysis – “Platforms Struggling to Curb Online Hate Amidst War in Israel and Gaza” – highlights the “proliferation of hate speech and inflammatory language against both Jews and Muslims online.”)
Central to 7amleh strategy is the active recasting of pro-terror content as neutral, suggesting that the NGO is working to preserve a right to incite to violence and celebrate terrorism. Among the examples of “silencing of Palestinian voices” and “restrictions… disproportionately affecting Palestinians” is: “Meta immediately censored the Arabic hashtag #االقصــى_طوفان on the first day of the escalation.” (Note the euphemistic use of “escalation,” in an attempt to obscure Hamas’ incomprehensibly brutal violence and equate Hamas and Israel.) The Arabic term in question is “Al-Aqsa Flood,” Hamas’ label for the October 7 massacre of Israelis, which connotes the genocidal goals of the attack. At the same time, 7amleh complains that Meta “never censored the parallel hashtag in Hebrew #ברזל_חרבות” – Swords of Iron, the Israeli army’s term for the operation in Gaza – “because it was not seen to violate their policies” (emphasis added) – as if fighting terror and Hamas cruelty are indistinguishable.
The political agenda behind the hashtag criticism is captured in an October 8 tweet by Jalal Abukhater, 7amleh’s Advocacy Manager: “It is highly problematic that @Meta unilaterally blocked access to vital information through blanket-censoring hashtags and tipping the narrative balance towards the regime perpetuating war crimes and crimes against humanity for decades without challenge. Very irresponsible” (emphasis added).
Likewise, when alleging “disproportionate over-moderation [that] leads to restrictions limiting the reach of Palestinian content…including journalists…” 7amleh refers to “the Facebook account for Quds News Network (اإلخباريــة القــدس شــبكة,)” which is called “an independent news agency, with nearly 10 million followers.” As stated in a September 2021 report by the US Department of State, Quds News Network is “Hamas-affiliated.”
In another instance, 7amleh discusses “one case where a Gaza-based human rights organization had their [MailChimp] account suspended.” As evidenced in the reference provided in the report, the NGO is Al-Mezan, a group with multiple links to the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror organization.
Social Media Activity Since October 7
7amleh’s advocacy campaign ostensibly about “censorship” should also be evaluated in light of the social media posts made by 7amleh officials during the current conflict (and building on previous examples) that justify and celebrate Hamas’ attacks.
On October 7, 7amleh Board Member Neveen Abu Rahmoun posted on Facebook, “The Palestinian resistance is imposing a new stage since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa flood operation by resistance fighters infiltrating into numerous Israeli neighborhoods in the settlements, by creating points of contact, and by firing rockets of the resistance. Israel, in its turn, is constrained by this and has announced a state of high mobilization for war. The message of the resistance is clear, it has started and it shall escalate and shall impose a new reality” (emphases added; “resistance” is a euphemism for Hamas and other terrorist groups; “the settlements” in question are located within the 1949 Armistice Line, or Green Line.)
Also on October 7, Itxaso Domínguez, EU Advocacy Officer at 7amleh, posted on Twitter/X: “Que el ataque venga de Gaza no debería sorprender a nadie: estamos hablando de una cárcel al aire libre sobre la que se lanzan guerras regulares. Una serie de flagrantes crímenes contra la humanidad que arroja luz sobre una realidad incomoda – palestin@s seguirán resistiendo….Gaza y toda Palestina son uno de los principales laboratorios del mundo para sistemas de vigilancia masiva e intrusiva de varias capas, y cada vez más sofisticada. A pesar de ese nivel de control, no es la primera vez que Israel es sorprendida por resistencia.” (Rough translation, emphases added: “That the attack comes from Gaza should not surprise anyone: we are talking about an open-air prison on which regular wars are launched. A series of flagrant crimes against humanity that sheds light on an uncomfortable reality – Palestinians will continue to resist….Gaza and all of Palestine are one of the world’s main laboratories for multi-layered, and increasingly sophisticated, mass and intrusive surveillance systems. Despite that level of control, it is not the first time that Israel has been surprised by resistance.”)
Similarly, on October 9, 7amleh Project Coordinator Mohammad Badarneh posted on Facebook, “The ‘only important’ value of a human being living under occupation is the extent of his resistance to that occupation, in all possible means.” (Post has since been removed.)
Particularly odious are tweets from Jalal Abukhater, 7amleh’s Advocacy Manager as of October 2023. He repeatedly uses Nazi Germany imagery in reference to Israel, including in an October 9 tweet: “I don’t need to ask why a music festival next to an actual concentration camp is worth more sympathy than when entire families are bombed to smithereens from the sky, mass slaughtered within safety of homes & markets without warning. This was never a fair fight, nor a fair world” (emphasis added). He also demonizes Israel as “a brutal ethnic-supremacist regime by way of genocide”; accuses those who support Israeli “self-defense” in Gaza 0f being “complicit in Genocide”; and describes Zionism as “Europe exported an ideology of ethnic-supremacy prone to commit genocidal violence.”
7amleh’s Funding Partners
- In 2021, total income was NIS 4.4 million; total expenses were NIS 4.3 million.
- Donors include the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Canada, Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Germany), Open Society Foundation, and the United Nations.
- In 2021-2023, 7amleh is an implementing partner of a CHF 6,645,000 project funded by Switzerland for the “Promotion and respect of human rights, gender equality and the international humanitarian law.” On October 25, 2023, the Swiss government announced it was suspending funding to 7amleh (and 10 other NGOs), allowing the government “to carry out an in-depth analysis of the compliance of these organisations’ communications with the [Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs] FDFA’s Code of Conduct and anti-discrimination clause.”
- In 2020-2023, 7amleh is receiving NOK 3.3 million from Norway to “ensure sustainable protection of Palestinian digital rights and to ensure that the policies and practices of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and private companies in Palestine are in line with human rights law and norms.”
- In 2021-2022, 7amleh received €59,992 from Germany for “strengthening Palestinian civil society’s ability to protect the environment for Palestinian engagement in eductional (sic) and cultural activties (sic) online.”
- In 2020-2022, 7amleh was an implementing partner on a SEK 16.9 million project funded by Sweden to “strengthen the investigative journalism skills of identified media actors and provide the technical and organizational foundation needed for the longer-term process of building structures that can support a more solid and professional media environment in Palestine.”
- In 2020, 7amleh was an implementing partner on a €10,600 project funded by the Netherlands to “Monitor Shrinking Digital space.”
- In 2021-2022, 7amleh received €58,000 from Oxfam Novib for a project with War Child for “developing open-source data that will gather information on policies and defamation campaigns that are contributing to the shrinking of civic space.” This funding is part of a “Strategic Partnership” with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.