Israeli attack on Jenin sparks social media war in Latin America

Israeli attack on Jenin sparks social media war in Latin America
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Updated 11 July 2023
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Israeli attack on Jenin sparks social media war in Latin America

Israeli attack on Jenin sparks social media war in Latin America
  • ‘Latin America, like Palestine, has suffered under colonial rulers for many years. It’s only natural for us to identify with the Palestinians’ plight,’ historian tells Arab News

SAO PAULO: Last week’s Israeli attack on the Jenin refugee camp has sparked a fierce social media battle in Latin America.

The largest Israeli attack in the occupied West Bank in two decades, which involved at least 1,000 soldiers with air support, resulted in 12 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier killed, dozens of people injured and 3,000 Palestinian civilians displaced.

A pro-Israel propaganda campaign on Latin American social media has been met with fierce resistance, said historian Sayid Marcos Tenorio, vice president of the Brazil-Palestine Institute.

“Israel usually invests in promoting social media publications during such military aggressions. The somewhat surprising part is that now numerous Latin Americans showed their indignation and criticized on social media the Israeli allegations,” he told Arab News.

Direct communication between victims in Jenin and activists in Latin America via social media amplified the dissemination of reports and photos of the attack in the region, “bypassing the control established by the big press groups over information,” activist Yasser Fayad told Arab News.

“The pictures and videos that continuously arrived from Jenin were pretty impressive. Nobody can control such an influx of information,” he added.

“Zionists try to manipulate the situation and associate all Palestinians with terrorism, but people don’t believe them anymore. Their aggressions unmask to the whole world their colonialist violence.”

Great media conglomerates in Latin America have historically sided with Israel, and were able to influence vast social segments.

But during the operation in Jenin, many in the audience repudiated TV analysts who were propagating Israel’s views, Tenorio said.

“I received many comments from people tired of seeing Palestinians being called terrorists and angry about the unbalanced media coverage of the operation,” he added. Such criticism was also visible on social media.

Radio show host Fernando Isas, an Argentinian-born son of Palestinian immigrants who live near Buenos Aires, told Arab News that pro-Palestine cultural centers have been playing an important role in educating Latin Americans about the situation.

“Such cultural initiatives draw people who aren’t necessarily involved in political activism. Through the arts, they end up learning about Palestine and developing a personal identification with it despite their non-Palestinian ancestry,” he said.

The fact that many young Palestinian militants gathered in Jenin and were able to present tactical challenges to the Israeli forces also galvanized support among people outside the Middle East, Isas added.

“The videos of the concrete resistance organized by those young combatants in Jenin went viral in Latin America,” he said.

Eduardo Rivas, general coordinator of the University Committee of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told Arab News that although Mexicans are preoccupied with their country’s domestic problems, “now most people know that the Palestinians are victims of injustice.”

He added: “Information comes without TV control now. Most Mexicans know that Israel is the aggressor and that many lies are told to them regarding the Palestinians.”

On July 8, groups of activists promoted a cultural event in Mexico City and denounced the Jenin assault, Rivas said.

In-person activities also took place in Chile and Brazil. During an event in Sao Paulo, a student committee to show solidarity with the Palestinian people was relaunched at the University of Sao Paulo after a period of inactivity.

In the Chilean city of Valparaiso, pro-Palestinian organizations gathered in La Victoria Square on July 6 and demonstrated against the Israeli assault.

One of the protest organizers, theater artist Alejandra Saez, told Arab News that information was transmitted in real time to her and her colleagues by their acquaintances in Jenin, allowing them to intensify online condemnation and raise awareness among Chileans.

Saez took part in an art residency at the Freedom Theatre in Jenin in 2022, and learned about the plight of the Palestinians. When she returned to Chile, she presented a theatrical play about life in Jenin.

In January 2023, the Freedom Theatre’s artistic director, Ahmed Tobasi, traveled to Chile and offered theater workshops in different cities alongside Saez.

“Many people had the opportunity to learn about Jenin and Palestine during the workshops,” said Saez. “Those people were now following events in the West Bank with great concern.”

The theater’s social media accounts included footage of Israeli attacks on civilians and even on the building where the theater is located.

The protest in Valparaiso included people who were drawn to support the Palestinian cause after taking part in cultural activities promoted by Saez’s group, she said.

Tenorio said the involvement of more people with the Palestinian cause in Latin America is also a consequence of the current geopolitical context in the region.

“With President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s election in Brazil, our struggle was greatly strengthened,” Tenorio said.

“He has been mentioning the Palestinian problem in every international forum in which he took part.”

Lula’s stance is shared by other regional leaders such as Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Chilean President Gabriel Boric.

“Latin America, like Palestine, has suffered under colonial rulers for many years. It’s only natural for us to identify with the Palestinians’ plight,” Tenorio said.


Meta ‘temporarily’ closes Threads network in Turkiye

Meta ‘temporarily’ closes Threads network in Turkiye
Updated 15 April 2024
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Meta ‘temporarily’ closes Threads network in Turkiye

Meta ‘temporarily’ closes Threads network in Turkiye
  • Decision was taken to comply with injunction prohibiting data sharing with Instagram
  • Ruling do not imlact Meta’s other services like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp

ISTANBUL: Facebook owner Meta said Monday it would “temporarily” shut down its Threads short-messaging service in Turkiye after an order from Ankara’s competition watchdog over data-sharing.
The interim ruling from the Turkish Competition Authority (TCA) has “no impact” for Meta’s other services like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in Turkiye, the company said in a statement posted to its website.
“We disagree with the interim order, we believe we are in compliance with all Turkish legal requirements, and we will appeal,” Meta said — although it had “no choice but to temporarily shut down Threads” in Turkiye.
Meta launched Threads last year as a competitor to X (formerly Twitter), with boss Mark Zuckerberg saying in February the service had 130 million monthly users worldwide.
It was available in Turkiye from the start, while European Union users had to wait months for Meta to come up with a version adapted to strict data protection and competition laws.
In its March finding, the TCA had said Meta’s combination of user data from Instagram with people’s Threads profiles “will lead to irreparable harms.”
Given its vast user base, data collection and financial resources, “Meta’s practices in the market constitute a barrier to entry” for prospective competitors, the authority added.
Meta said it would allow existing Threads users to delete or deactivate their profiles ahead of the April 29 cut-off, with a chance of reactivating them should the ruling be overturned.


British TV presenter under fire for ‘Islamophobic’ tweet in aftermath of Sydney mall attack

British TV presenter under fire for ‘Islamophobic’ tweet in aftermath of Sydney mall attack
Updated 15 April 2024
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British TV presenter under fire for ‘Islamophobic’ tweet in aftermath of Sydney mall attack

British TV presenter under fire for ‘Islamophobic’ tweet in aftermath of Sydney mall attack
  • Critics say Rachel Riley should be sacked after she draws parallel between calls for Palestinian intifada and unrelated attack in Australia that left 6 people dead
  • The ‘Countdown’ star later clarifies her comments and says she apologizes if her message was ‘misunderstood’

LONDON: British TV presenter Rachel Riley has responded to criticisms she received after posting a message on social media platform X in which she appeared to link a stabbing rampage at a Sydney shopping mall on Saturday, which left six people dead, with ongoing protests calling for a Palestinian “intifada,” or uprising.

The celebrity, best known for appearing on the Channel 4 game shows “Countdown” and “8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown” said she apologized if her words had been “misunderstood.”

In a message posted soon after the attacks, Riley, whose mother is Jewish, wrote: “For six months now, people have been out on our streets proudly calling for the ‘Intifada Revolution’. If you want to know what ‘Globalised Intifada’ looks like, see the Sydney Mall.”

She immediately faced a backlash, including accusations of racism and Islamophobia and calls for her to be sacked by Channel 4.

In response, she posted a message on Sunday in which she said her tweet was not intended to link the attack in Sydney to Islamic extremism, but rather to question the continuing tolerance for protests in London and around the world calling for “intifada,” which she equates with “violence on our streets.”

She wrote: “Sadly, the type of attack seen in Sydney yesterday is exactly the kind of violence the previous intifada involved and I hope to avoid in future, but in my opinion ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.

“Attacks on Jews have recently become repackaged as ‘resistance’ in some circles, and we should in one voice condemn all acts of violence, whoever the perpetrators and whoever the victims.

“I am sorry if this message was misunderstood, that was not my intention.”

Despite her clarification, she continued to face criticism online, including accusations that her response was “insufficient” and she was engaging in “self-centered self-victimization” in an attempt to evade responsibility.

On Saturday, Joel Cauchi attacked a number of people, mostly women, at the Westfield Bondi Junction mall killing five women and a man. Several others, including a baby girl, were injured before Cauchi was shot dead by police. Australian authorities have said the attack was not related to terrorism and most likely linked to the attacker’s mental health issues.


Lebanese newspaper introduces ‘AI President’ in effort to break political deadlock

Lebanese newspaper introduces ‘AI President’ in effort to break political deadlock
Updated 15 April 2024
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Lebanese newspaper introduces ‘AI President’ in effort to break political deadlock

Lebanese newspaper introduces ‘AI President’ in effort to break political deadlock
  • Artificial intelligence tool’s ‘deep understanding’ of country equips it to address issues effectively, AnNahar newspaper says
  • Lebanon has been without a president for more than two years

LONDON: A Lebanese newspaper has launched what it claims is the world’s first artificial intelligence tool designed to assume presidential duties for a nation, in an attempt to break the long-standing deadlock over who should assume the country’s presidency.

Arabic-language daily AnNahar said the program, which it has called “AI President,” has been trained on an archive of 90 years of “impartial journalism” from its pages. The program analyzes historical data and current events to provide answers to political, legal, and governmental questions.

With its “deep understanding” of Lebanon’s history, “AI President” aims to provide an “unbiased perspective” on the country’s current challenges.

The launch was announced in a live broadcast by Nayla Tueni, AnNahar’s editor-in-chief, who conducted an interview with the software regarding Lebanon’s current issues and potential solutions to them.

Lebanon is facing a number of long-running socio-economic crises, with over 80 percent of the population now reported to be living in poverty.

The country has been without a president for more than two years, despite 13 unsuccessful attempts by the Lebanese parliament to elect one.

Tueni hopes “AI President” will help break the political stalemate and restore confidence in the system.

“We refuse to sit back and allow things to go on as they have. To not have a president for this long is unacceptable and has impacted the country negatively,” Tueni said. “If the parliament will not do its job to elect a president, then the people will bring Lebanon a president.” 

“AI President” will be accessible through the website OurPresident.ai to answer questions on Lebanese politics.


Republican hardliners blame Biden administration after Huawei unveils laptop with new Intel AI chip

Republican hardliners blame Biden administration after Huawei unveils laptop with new Intel AI chip
Updated 13 April 2024
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Republican hardliners blame Biden administration after Huawei unveils laptop with new Intel AI chip

Republican hardliners blame Biden administration after Huawei unveils laptop with new Intel AI chip
  • A special license issued by the Trump administration has allowed Intel to ship central processors to Huawei for use in laptops since 2020
  • In August, Huawei unveiled a new phone powered by a sophisticated chip manufactured by sanctioned Chinese chipmaker SMIC

WASHINGTON: Republican US lawmakers on Friday criticized the Biden administration after sanctioned Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei unveiled a laptop this week powered by an Intel AI chip.

The United States placed Huawei on a trade restriction list in 2019 for violating Iran sanctions, part of a broader effort to hobble Beijing’s technological advances. Placement on the list means the company’s suppliers have to seek a special, difficult-to-obtain license before shipping to it.
One such license, issued by the Trump administration, has allowed Intel to ship central processors to Huawei for use in laptops since 2020. China hard-liners had urged the Biden administration to revoke that license, but many grudgingly accepted that it would expire later this year and not be renewed.
Huawei’s unveiling Thursday of its first AI-enabled laptop, the MateBook X Pro powered by Intel’s new Core Ultra 9 processor, shocked and angered them, because it suggested to them that the Commerce Department had approved shipments of the new chip to Huawei.
“One of the greatest mysteries in Washington, DC is why the Department of Commerce continues to allow US technology to be shipped to Huawei” Republican Congressman Michael Gallagher, who chairs the House of Representatives select committee on China, said in a statement to Reuters.
A source familiar with the matter said the chips were shipped under a preexisting license. They are not covered by recent broad-cased restrictions on AI chip shipments to China, the source and another person said.
The Commerce Department and Intel declined to comment. Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The reaction is a sign of growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to thwart Huawei’s rise, nearly five years after it was added to a trade restriction list.
In August, it shocked the world with a new phone powered by a sophisticated chip manufactured by sanctioned Chinese chipmaker SMIC, becoming a symbol of China’s technological resurgence despite Washington’s ongoing efforts to cripple its capacity to produce advanced semiconductors.
At a Senate subcommittee hearing this week, Kevin Kurland, an export enforcement official, said Washington’s restrictions on Huawei have had a “significant impact” on it access to US technology. He also stressed that the goal was not necessarily to stop Huawei from growing but to keep it from misusing US technology for “malign activities.”
But the remarks did little to stem frustration among Republican China hawks following the news about Huawei’s new laptop.
“These approvals must stop,” Republican congressman Michael McCaul said in a statement to Reuters. “Two years ago, I was told licenses to Huawei would stop. Today, it doesn’t seem as though the policy has changed.”


Three Palestinian journalists injured in Israeli strike on Gaza’s Nuseirat camp

Three Palestinian journalists injured in Israeli strike on Gaza’s Nuseirat camp
Updated 13 April 2024
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Three Palestinian journalists injured in Israeli strike on Gaza’s Nuseirat camp

Three Palestinian journalists injured in Israeli strike on Gaza’s Nuseirat camp
  • The 3 reporters were taken to Shohada Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah
  • Journalist Sami Shehada lost his leg in the attack

GAZA: Three Palestinian journalists were injured in an Israeli airstrike on the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza on Friday.

Sami Shehada and Sami Barhoum were covering the events for the TRT Arabic TV channel, while Ahmad Harb was on duty for Al Arabiya News Channel at the time of the incident.

All three journalists were first taken to Al-Awda Hospital, a small facility in the north of the enclave, but later transferred to Shohada Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

Shehada lost a leg in the attack, which reportedly directly targeted the media team.

“(We) were in a (relatively) safe spot, wearing our press armor and helmets,” Shehada told Arab News. “Even the car I arrived in was labeled ‘TV,’ and I’m a civilian and a journalist — they targeted us.”

Since Oct. 7, at least 122 journalists have been killed by Israeli strikes, according to UN figures, and many more have been injured.

UN experts said in February that they were “alarmed at the extraordinarily high numbers of journalists and media workers who have been killed, attacked, injured and detained in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in Gaza, in recent months, blatantly disregarding international law. We condemn all killings, threats and attacks on journalists and call on all parties to the conflict to protect them.”