USACBI Organizing Collective member Dr. Rima Najjar sues Quora over discrimination

The following post is republished here from Palestine Legal. USACBI fully supports our Organizing Collective member, Dr. Rima Najjar, in her lawsuit against online question site Quora, pursuing justice and challenging unlawful anti-Palestinian discrimination: 

Lawsuit: Quora Discriminates Against Palestinian Professor

The popular question-and-answer site Quora is facing a lawsuit over its censorship of retired Palestinian-American professor Rima Najjar.

Quora permanently banned Dr. Najjar in May 2019 after website administrators claimed using the term ‘Zionist’ in a negative way was “hate speech.” Dr. Najjar attempted unsuccessfully to resolve the matter directly with Quora, and filed a lawsuit against Quora on December 31 for discriminating against her on the basis of national origin.

Dr. Najjar explained in her complaint that she joined Quora after noticing that the site appeared prominently in internet searches for information about Palestine/Israel but the answers on the site often contained false information or a biased perspective. Seeking to fill this void, Dr. Najjar became a prolific contributor to the site from 2016 to May 2019—at times producing multiple well-researched and well-cited responses per day.

Prior to the permanent ban, Quora subjected Dr. Najjar to several temporary bans and “collapsed” or hid her answers from the main list of answers to a question, following complaints from other users. One such collapsed answer involved Dr. Najjar explaining how her family was dispossessed from Lifta, a Palestinian village depopulated by Zionist militias between 1947 and 1948.

According to the complaint, Quora was unable to provide a nondiscriminatory, equitably enforced reason for its decision to ban Dr. Najjar and the manner in which it carried out this ban.

For example, Quora also permanently banned retired professor Benay Bland, a Jewish anti-Zionist activist who moderated a Quora forum with Dr. Najjar. However, unlike Dr. Najjar, whose hundreds of responses were erased from the site, all of Dr. Bland’s answers remain, despite the permanent ban.

The suit also points out that Quora has allowed writers who claim Palestinians do not exist or are not indigenous to the land to post content and maintain their accounts.

The suit, which was filed by attorneys Rima Kapitan and Dan Siegel, alleges that Quora violated California and federal civil rights law in its mistreatment of Dr. Najjar. She seeks the reinstatement of her account and an order requiring Quora to cease and desist from discriminating against users based on Palestinian ancestry/national origin and/or anti-Zionist political opinions.

Other social media sites such as Facebook have come under fire for their censorship of pro-Palestinian individuals and pages, including shutting down the page of a major Palestinian news outlet. In October 2019 WhatsApp blocked the accounts of hundreds of Palestinian journalists and activists who were providing live updates about an Israeli attack on Gaza.

Last month, Palestine Legal reached out to Facebook after it blocked Jewish Voice for Peace NY and its supporters from sharing an event featuring Palestinian and Jewish poetry and theater for almost three weeks. Facebook claimed that the event was “incorrectly flagged.”

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