YouTube Removes Video of Legal Scholar Defending Israeli Airstrikes

May 17, 2021

An Israeli legal scholar's argument about the legality of Israeli airstrikes was removed from YouTube on Monday for violating the platform's "violent criminal organizations policy."

Eugene Kontorovich, a professor at George Mason University, appeared on RT to explain why Israel’s counterstrikes in Gaza are protected by international law. After posting the video, Kontorovich received an email saying he had violated YouTube's "violent criminal organizations" policy. That policy bans "content intended to praise, promote, or aid violent criminal organizations." Its listed examples of violations include hostage videos, propaganda produced by terrorists, and terror recruitment videos.

The move continues a pattern of capricious moderation of content related to Israel from social media platforms. In April, the Chinese-owned platform TikTok hosted a series of viral videos of Arabs assaulting Orthodox Jews.

Kontorovich told the Washington Free Beacon YouTube's decision demonstrated which groups have influence on the video platform.

"YouTube is obviously in thrall to the most extreme anti-Israel actors who want to silence academic discussion of international law in relation to Israel's actions, so that the blood libels will not be refuted," he said.

According to Kontorovich, restoring the video would not be enough to combat what he sees as a battle for public opinion of Israel amid this ongoing conflict. He said there’s "a major campaign to portray" Israeli defense efforts "as illegal and in violation of the laws of war," and that silencing arguments like his are "constraining Israel's ability to defend itself from Hamas."

Updated 5/17/21 at 10:21 p.m.