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Israel: Immediate Blocking of Israeli Web Access to Anti-Islam Film Rejected; Full Hearing Scheduled for October

(Sept. 25, 2012) On September 20, 2012, the Jerusalem District Court denied a request by Taleb a-Sanaa, a Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) Member of the United Arab List- Ta’al Party, and other Arab leaders for an injunction to immediately order Google Israel to remove the “Innocence of Muslims,” a video offensive to Muslims, from Israel’s YouTube feed. The petitioners alleged that the video violates Israeli law by inciting to violence and insulting Muslim sensibilities. (Nir Hasson, Israeli Court Rejects Petition to Block Anti-Islam Video on Google, HAARETZ NEWSPAPER (Sept. 20, 2012) [subscription or free registration required to view full text].)

The respondent argued that Google Israel does not itself own YouTube and cannot control what is distributed across the entire Internet. Additionally, it argued, “[n]either YouTube nor Google are investigative authorities … [and] can’t know if what’s published is inciting, racist, anti-religious, or slander; it’s a private company that offers a platform. This request puts YouTube and Google into the shoes of an investigative authority or a court.” (Id.)

In refusing to grant the injunction, Judge Miriam Mizrahi did not dismiss the petition. Recognizing the challenges to the principle of freedom of expression that are associated with the requested remedy, she ordered both sides to submit their arguments in writing before a full hearing that will take place on October 15, after the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. (Id.; Aviel Magnezi, Judge: Offended by Film? Don’t Watch It, YNET (Sept. 20, 2012); Yonah Jeremy Bob & Melanie Lidman, Court: No Temporary Ban on Anti-Islam Video, THE JERUSALEM POST (Sept. 20, 2012).)