A pro-Israel prayer group was permanently banned by Facebook last month after it became the target of a barrage of anti-Semitic hate comments.
The popular Jerusalem Prayer Team page was started in 2002 and had amassed more than 76 million followers from around the world before Facebook suddenly unpublished the page on May 15. The page’s administrators appealed the decision with Facebook the same day to no avail.
Over the previous three days beginning on May 12, the page had been inundated with what appeared to be a coordinated influx of negative comments, many of them crude and expressing anti-Semitic sentiments.
Among the negative comments on the page were some reading, “Hitler was right” and “U all dead soon.”
“Another Holocaust is coming soon….. be ready Jewish people,” one commenter wrote.
“There are Jews everywhere. We must attack every Jew on planet Earth,” wrote another commenter, adding, “We must slaughter and kill them, with Allah’s help. We will lacerate and tear them to pieces.”
Michael Evans, the page’s founder, told the Christian Broadcasting Network that the more than one million negative comments were the result of an “organized attempt by radical Islamic organizations.”
Evans traveled to the Gaza border to witness the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Around the time the prayer group was banned from Facebook, he had traveled to Jerusalem to host a television event at the Friends of Zion Museum media center along with several celebrities including actor Jon Voight and Pastor Robert Jeffress.
The high volume of negative comments began during the 11 days of violence between Israel and Hamas last month during which more than 250 people were killed before the fighting was suspended when Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire.
The conflict began on May 10 when Hamas fired rockets into Israel following a clash between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israel responded with air strikes targeting Hamas in Gaza.
In a May 17 email to the Jerusalem Prayer Team administrators, Facebook informed them that it appeared that Facebook’s “Internal Team already came up with their decision.”
The page was “deleted by our system due to being not Policy Compliant,” a Facebook support representative wrote in an email.
“There’s no further action that we can take,” Facebook added. “Please consider this decision final.”
The Jerusalem Prayer Team had ranked 23rd in Facebook’s most followed pages, and the group claims it has spent millions of dollars with Facebook over the last seven years.
“Our Facebook page became the meeting place for our online world-wide church,” the administrators of the group wrote in a summary of the events surrounding the ban they provided to The Daily Wire. “We conducted LIVE prayer meetings, multiple times a week on the page and tens of thousands of people were engaged daily.”
The page administrators expressed that they were “amazed and disappointed” that Facebook allowed such comments to remain visible.
“We had understood they had a corporate commitment to prevent offensive or false information from being displayed, but in our case, there was no apparent intervention by Facebook,” the administrators said.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
Facebook’s decision also comes as incidents of anti-Semitism spiked in the U.S. during the conflict between Israel and Hamas. During the nearly two weeks of clashes, the Anti-Defamation League recorded 222 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism, and violence across the country, a 75% increase from 127 during the previous two weeks.