Shin Bet head in rare warning: Stop violent discourse now, someone will get hurt

Citing spike in online incitement, Argaman urges leaders to speak out; statement comes as ‘change government’ set to oust Netanyahu, who posted Friday about the Biblical spies

5 June 2021
photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

In an extraordinary statement Saturday, the head of the Shin Bet internal security service Nadav Argaman warned of rising incitement and hate speech on social media, and the danger that it will spark political violence, as the coalition that aims to oust incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears increasingly likely to be sworn in.

“We have recently identified a serious rise and radicalization in violent and inciting discourse, specifically on social media,” Argaman said, warning that such online speech could lead some groups or individuals to take violent action and even harm others.

“This discourse may be interpreted among certain groups or individuals as one that allows violent and illegal activity and could even lead to harm to individuals,” he said.

As the so-called “change government” has become increasingly likely, right-wing social discourse has become increasingly alarmist, with frequent declarations that the government bringing together the right, center and left could doom Israel and bring about dark times, angry protests outside politicians homes, the burning of political posters, and allegations of treason issued via traditional and social media.

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