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Social Media, Agitators Among Arabs and Jews, Contributing to Jerusalem Violence

Palestinians celebrates after Israel's police removed barricades in a plaza outside of Jerusalem's Old City, Sunday, April 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Palestinians celebrates after Israel's police removed barricades in a plaza outside of Jerusalem's Old City, Sunday, April 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Could social media be driving recent clashes between Jews and Arabs around Jerusalem’s Old City?  One name going around is the Tik Tok Intifadah. And in addition to social media, politics and the Abraham Accords also play a part.

One of the videos on Tik Tok showing an Arab slapping two Orthodox Jews who were riding on public transportation, reportedly spread like wildfire among Palestinians, encouraging more attacks.

Now, multiple Tik Tok videos are getting blamed for adding fuel to clashes between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem.

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“The most disturbing thing is that this thing started off as a Tik Tok challenge and it went viral,” said Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum.

“What happens is the Palestinian Authority gets the whole environment very tense and it creates a lot of anger, it creates a lot of terror energy in the background. And then what happens is all you need is one Tik Tok video and all of a sudden, you’re going to get a lot of copycats,” said Itamar Marcus, director of the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

Much of the trouble has taken place at the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. During their holy month of Ramadan, Muslims often gather here in the evening after a day of fasting.

“So definitely, on Ramadan spiritual fervors are higher and this is exactly what people from Hamas like to, you know, hit the spot when people are already feeling more religious fervor,” Hassan-Nahoum told CBN News.

In a sermon given at Al Aksa mosque on the Temple Mount and posted online by 0202 Points of View from Jerusalem, however, Sheikh Dr. Mustafa Abu Sway condemned the attacks.  

“Only yesterday, a number of youngsters threw hot coffee on the face of an honorable Haredi man. These are religious people. Such behavior is not Islamic in any way, shape or form,” the Sheikh said.

“One of them laughed, came and threw hot coffee on his face - from where did he find justification for such an act? This is no laughing matter! We are obligated to conduct ourselves only according to the light of the morality of Islam,” Abu Sway added.

Complicating the matter though, is a small Jewish group called Lehava, which attacked Arabs in the streets of Jerusalem. The group opposes Jewish assimilation and is opposed to most personal relationships between Jews and non-Jews.

“They’re definitely a bunch of hooligans that are organized by a very horrible man with a sinister agenda. But this is a very small fringe group that everybody condemns including the mayor of Jerusalem,” Hassan-Nahoum said.  

“When they’re not attacking Arabs, they’re attacking all sorts of other people in the city, like the LGBT community for example,” she added.

CBN News has covered Lehava before… in 2019, the same group became violent in a protest against Messianic Jews at a Jerusalem congregation.

But Hassan-Nahoum feels there’s more to this recent outbreak. 

“I don’t think this violence, especially from the Arab side is spontaneous. I think there’s something more sinister behind it. We’ve seen the fact that the rocket fire started from Gaza to the southern Israeli towns at the same time.  

Marcus sees election politics as the source of this latest violence.

“In the past, when there’s talk about elections both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority would increase the violence and the terror. In fact, we’ve had full terror waves in the past, because the way Hamas and Fatah, compete for votes and compete for popularity is through terror and killing Israelis,” Marcus told CBN News.

Marcus uses the 2014 Gaza War against Israel as a prime example.  That year, Palestinian election polls showed the Fatah party clearly leading over Hamas.  Sensing a loss, Hamas kidnaped and murdered three Israelis as they waited for a bus in the West bank.  That led to war, Hamas rose in the polls and the elections were cancelled.

“The shocking thing then was that Hamas, which clearly had been defeated and brought 2,000 deaths on Gaza yet was perceived by Palestinians as having been victorious over Israel because Israelis had to sit in the shelters,” Marcus said.

According to Marcus, Fatah posted a video that states “There is an uprising and intifadah in Jerusalem.”  

The Palestinian Authority just canceled a planned election again although Marcus says he’s not sure the violence is over.

Hassan-Nahoum believes the Hamas rocket fire is in opposition to the Abraham Accords, signed between Israel and Muslim states last year.

“I think that Hamas has been waiting for the time to kind of take revenge on Israel for this and make the opposition heard and I think this is exactly the reaction that they’ve planned,” she said.

Hassan-Nahoum says the mayor has been reaching out to Arab civil and religious leaders in the city and hopes a sense of calm will return to Jerusalem.

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