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A powerful United Nations agency has unveiled a plan to regulate social media and online communication while cracking down on what it describes as “false information” and “conspiracy theories,” sparking alarm among free-speech advocates and top U.S. lawmakers.
In its 59-page report released this month, the U.N. Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) outlined a series of “concrete measures which must be implemented by all stakeholders: governments, regulatory authorities, civil society, and the platforms themselves.”
This approach includes the imposition of global policies, through institutions such as governments and businesses, designed to stop the spread of various forms of speech while promoting objectives such as “cultural diversity” and “gender equality.”
In particular, the U.N. agency aims to create an “Internet of Trust” by targeting what it calls “misinformation,” “disinformation,” “hate speech,” and “conspiracy theories.”
Examples of expression flagged to be stopped or restricted include concerns about elections, public health measures, and advocacy that could constitute “incitement to discrimination.”
Critics are warning that allegations of “disinformation” and “conspiracy theories” have increasingly been used by powerful forces in government and Big Tech to silence true information and even core political speech.
Just this month, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee released a report blasting the “pseudoscience of disinformation.”
Among other concerns, the committee found this “pseudoscience” has been “weaponized” by what lawmakers refer to as the “Censorship Industrial Complex.”
The goal: silence constitutionally-protected political speech, mostly by conservatives.
“The pseudoscience of disinformation is now—and has always been—nothing more than a political ruse most frequently targeted at communities and individuals holding views contrary to the prevailing narratives,” states the congressional report, “The Weaponization of ‘Disinformation’ Pseudo-Experts and Bureaucrats.”
Indeed, many of the policies called for by UNESCO have already been implemented by U.S.-based digital platforms, often at the behest of the Biden administration, the latest congressional report makes clear.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers nevertheless expressed alarm about the new UNESCO plan.
“I have repeatedly and publicly criticized the Biden administration’s misguided decision to rejoin UNESCO, putting U.S. taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told The Epoch Times regarding the social-media plan.
Calling UNESCO a “deeply flawed entity,” Mr. McCaul said he is especially concerned that the organization “promotes the interests of authoritarian regimes—including the Chinese Communist Party.”
Indeed, UNESCO, like many other U.N. agencies, includes multiple members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in its leadership ranks, such as Deputy Director-General Xing Qu, The Epoch Times has reported.
The CCP has repeatedly made clear that even while working in international organizations, CCP members are expected to follow communist party orders.
Lawmakers on the House Appropriations Subcommittee dealing with international organizations are currently working to cut or reduce funding to various U.N. agencies that lawmakers say are using U.S. taxpayer money improperly.
Already, the U.S. government has twice exited UNESCO—under the Reagan and the Trump administrations—due to concerns about what the administrations described as extremism, hostility to American values, and other problems.
The Biden administration rejoined earlier this year over the objections of lawmakers, The Epoch Times reported.
The UNESCO Plan
While being marketed as a plan to uphold free expression, the new UNESCO regulatory regime calls for international censorship by “independent” regulators who are “shielded from political and economic interests.”
“National, regional, and global governance systems should be able to cooperate and share practices … in addressing content that could be permissibly restricted under international human rights law and standards,” the report explains.
Unlike the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting any governmental infringement on the right to free speech or free press, UNESCO points to various international “human rights” instruments that it says should determine what speech to infringe on.
These agreements include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that restricting freedom of expression must be provided for by law and must also serve a “legitimate aim.”
In a recent review of the United States, a U.N. human-rights committee called for changes to the U.S. Constitution and demanded that the U.S. government do more to stop and punish “hate speech” in order to comply with the ICCPR.
Another key U.N. instrument is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states explicitly in Article 29 that “rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”
In short, the U.N. view of “freedom of expression” is radically different from that enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
The UNESCO report says that once content that should be restricted is found, social-media platforms must take measures, ranging from using algorithm suppression (shadow banning) and warning users about the content, to de-monetizing and even removing it.
Any digital platforms found to not be “dealing with content that could be permissibly restricted under international human rights law” should “be held accountable” with “enforcement measures,” the report states.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, a former French culture minister with the Socialist Party, cited risks to society to justify the global plan.
“Digital technology has enabled immense progress on freedom of speech,” she said in a statement. “But social media platforms have also accelerated and amplified the spread of false information and hate speech, posing major risks to societal cohesion, peace, and stability.
“To protect access to information, we must regulate these platforms without delay, while at the same time protecting freedom of expression and human rights,” said Azoulay, who took over the U.N. agency from longtime Bulgarian Communist Party leader Irina Bokova.
In the forward to the new report, headlined “Guidelines for the Governance of Digital Platforms,” Azoulay says that stopping certain forms of speech and at the same time preserving “freedom of expression” is “not a contradiction.”
Citing a survey commissioned by UNESCO itself, the U.N. agency also said most people around the world support its agenda.
According to UNESCO, the report and the guidelines were developed through a process of consultation including more than 1,500 submissions and over 10,000 comments from “stakeholders” such as governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations.
UNESCO said it will work with governments and companies to implement the regulatory regime around the world.
“UNESCO is by not (sic) proposing to regulate digital platforms,” a spokesman for UNESCO, who asked not to be named, told The Epoch Times in a statement.
“We are, however, conscious that dozens of governments around the world are already drafting legislation to do so, some of which is not in line with international human rights standards, and may even jeopardize freedom of expression.
“Similarly, the platforms themselves are already making millions of human and automated decisions a day with respect to the moderation and curation of content, based upon their own policies,” the spokesman said.
The European Union, which already places severe limitations on free expression online, has already provided funding for implementation worldwide, UNESCO added.
The Biden administration told The Epoch Times that it wasn’t involved in creating the plan.
“We will reserve comment until we finish carefully studying the plan,” the State Department said in an email.
Free Speech Concern Grows
Concerns over the implications for freedom of speech and free expression online are mounting as awareness of the UNESCO plan spreads.
Sarah McLaughlin, a senior scholar at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), expressed alarm.
“FIRE appreciates that UNESCO’s new action plan for social media recognizes the value of transparency and the need for protecting freedom of expression, but remains deeply concerned about efforts to regulate online ‘disinformation’ and ‘hate speech,’” Ms. McLaughlin told The Epoch Times.
“As we’ve seen in recent weeks, enforcement of the EU’s Digital Services Act, for example, has created even more uncertainty about platforms’ content moderation policies and users’ ability to speak freely online,” she said. “Local legal restrictions and norms can ultimately influence how platforms operate on a global scale.
“As countries around the world ramp up regulation of speech on the internet, it becomes increasingly likely that platforms’ enforcement will affect users—including Americans—outside of the states enforcing such rules.”
Indeed, across Europe, “hate speech” rules have increasingly been used not just to silence speech on issues such as marriage, immigration, sexuality, and religion, but even to prosecute those who violate speech laws.
This month, Dr. Päivi Räsänen, a member of the Finnish Parliament and the former interior minister, triumphed after a years-long “hate speech” prosecution over her online speech supporting the biblical understanding of homosexuality and marriage.
In Poland, several members of the European Parliament are facing charges of “hate speech” for sharing political advertisements warning about possible effects of mass Islamic immigration into Europe.
Even more troubling to critics is that the concept of “hate speech” itself was introduced into the U.N. system by the Soviet Union, which regularly described anti-communist speech as “hate speech,” explained Jacob Mchangama in a 2011 paper for Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
Patrick Wood, founder and chairman of Citizens for Free Speech, warned that the UNESCO plan will certainly be used to silence critics of its agenda.
“When UNESCO trots out statements like—’the result of extensive worldwide consultations and is backed by a global opinion survey’—the fix is in,” Mr. Wood told The Epoch Times.
“In this case it will lead to a deluge of global programs to censor speech deemed counter to its agenda.”
As more hostages walk out of their underground jail to freedom, the rosy picture of Hamas's "gentle" treatment is starting to unravel. While 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz praised her captors back in October for the regular food, medical care, and beds, others tell a different story. Twelve-year-old Eitan Yahalomi was "tortured during his confinement," his grandmother says -- "beaten, forced at gunpoint to watch videos of Hamas atrocities, and threatened with death when he and other children cried." Left by himself in darkness for 16 days, Eitan has trouble speaking now.
Nine-year-old Emily Ward, whose dad made headlines for his profound relief that she was thought dead and not in terrorists' hands (only to learn his worst fears had come true), tells reporters that he has trouble hearing her since her release. After bear-hugging the daughter he thought was gone forever, Thomas admitted, the "most shocking, disturbing part of meeting her was she was just whispering. I couldn't hear her. I had to put my ear on her lips, like this close and say, 'What did you say?'"
The full picture of nightmares, we may never know. But, as former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) major Amir Tsarfati points out, we know enough. These were "unspeakable crimes against humanity," he insisted, "... performed by bloodthirsty people that have no regard [for] human life and have no intention to have any peace with us at all. ... And Israel, for the longest time, tried to appease them by giving them jobs within Israel, by allowing money to flow in -- but this monster rose one morning and tried to devour us."
Now, Tsarfati warns, "We're facing right now a battle between two things. One, we have the largest terror base on planet Earth [in Hamas] -- and in the north, we have the largest or the strongest terror organization on planet Earth [in Hezbollah]. We're sandwiched right in between them," he explained on "Washington Watch." And, as Family Research Council President Tony Perkins pointed out, Israel isn't exactly a big parcel of land. "No," Amir agreed. And after October 7, the country has started to realize, "there is no way we can live like that even a day longer, right? So we are doing what we should have done long ago, and we didn't because of international pressure."
But that pressure is building again, Perkins said, even from America. "The Biden administration pushing for this quote-unquote 'pause' has stopped Israel from taking care of business."
And what's happening as a result, Tsarfati asked? "The Israeli troops in Gaza are seeing, watching, looking at Hamas terrorists regrouping and reorganizing. Right now. We say we cannot shoot them, but we see what they're planning for us -- and once this pause is over, [the threat] is far greater than what we had with them before. This was a terrible mistake to stop right now."
In the meantime, Amir insists, "What happened on October 7 has caused a tectonic shift of many plates in many levels all around the world. And we're watching it happen." From the protests to counter-protests, "a lot of countries are now dealing with built-in anti-Semitism that they've had for many years. And now it's rising." Ultimately, he knows, "they have to choose [between] Jewish people that we know are not posing any harm for our country versus those Muslim migrants. ... They're afraid of them. They're afraid of them in France. They're afraid of them in Belgium... in the Netherlands."
For years, Jews have been under the impression that they could co-exist with the foes who want to eliminate them. "No, no, no," Tsarfati repeated. "We have to live without that enemy on the other side." But also, he points out, Jews are waking up to the reality that "there is no safe place for them as Jews than Israel." Ironically, the Jewish people have been among the most liberal voices in America and in Western Europe, Amir pointed out. "And right now, they see that being liberal is not enough. Being progressive is not enough. They hate me for being a Jew, right?"
It's created a very explosive environment for the West, which is facing some very pivotal decisions. "I believe God is testing the nations right now," Amir insisted. "He's testing the nations. He's testing the believers, His people, [on where they stand with Israel]. ... Look, when I began to travel around the world, God showed me, 'Wherever you go, look at what they teach about Israel, and you will know the spiritual state of that church,' because it's like a litmus test. It's amazing."
But it's not just Israel in the crosshairs, Tsarfati urged. It's Christians too. "Those terrorists always say, 'The Saturday people are first. The Sunday people are next.' They use that term. They don't even hide it. And I mean, Europe must wake up. America must wake up.
America has thousands of sleeper cells all across the country. Your southern border is so open," he shook his head. "I can't even imagine how many Hezbollah and Hamas cells are in your country right now. They're testing you. And look, they waited and waited and waited and deceived us and deceived the whole area that they're deterred and not going to pounce. And then boom, one day they strike."
In the first part of this fascinating look into the resurgence of Israel’s military in Bible prophecy, we looked at how God miraculously defended Israel during Israel’s War of Independence. Now we will explore God’s tremendous victories during the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War.
The Six Day War (June 1967)
Following years of tit-for-tat skirmishes, in the early 1960s Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser sought to align the Arab world under his leadership. His declared goal was to eradicate the Jewish state of Israel.
In 1965 Nasser asserted, “We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand; we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood.” A few months later, Nasser declared that he had two aims. “The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel.”
In May 1967, Nasser massed Egyptian troops on Israel’s southern border. He then ordered UN troops positioned in the buffer zone between Israel and Egypt to leave. When the UN readily complied, Nasser announced:
“As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.”
The Syrian Defense Minister, Hafez Assad, affirmed Syria’s enthusiasm “to enter into a battle of annihilation.”
On May 22, Egypt blockaded the Straits of Tiran to all Israel shipping — an overt act of war under international law. King Hussein of Jordan then signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30, and President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq joined the bellicose rhetoric by declaring, “Our goal is clear — to wipe Israel off the map.”
A combined Arab army of 465,000 troops, 2,800 tanks, and 800 aircraft was poised to annihilate Israel.
The Israeli leaders decided it would be suicidal to wait for the attack, and so, on June 6th, the entire Israeli Air Force (except a mere 12 planes assigned to defend Israel’s air space) launched a devastating attack on the Egyptian air force. By the end of the morning, they had virtually destroyed the Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian air forces. Unchallenged air superiority led to another miraculous Israeli victory after just six days of fighting.
Even as the Arab armies were being decimated, Jordan’s King Hussein felt compelled to join the fighting. In response, Israel drove the Jordanian army across the Jordan River and recaptured the Old City of Jerusalem and the sacred Temple Mount.
Israeli paratroopers rushed to the Western Wall — where no Jew had been allowed access for 18 years. Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief rabbi of the IDF (and later the chief rabbi of Israel) rushed to the wall, blew the shofar, and announced: “We have taken the City of God. We are entering the Messianic era for the Jewish people.” He understood from prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures that when the Jews are back in the land and back in their capital city, the Messiah will come.
The Yom Kippur War (October 1973)
Excessive Israeli confidence in their invincibility led to a dire situation just six years later. On October 6 (Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism), Egypt and Syria launched an all-out surprise attack against Israel.
Crossing the Suez Canal, the Egyptians quickly overran the Israeli outposts and drove deep into the Sinai. Simultaneously, Syria attacked the Golan Heights. Anwar Sadat, the President of Egypt, had fulfilled his promise to avenge the Arab humiliation suffered in 1967.
Just a few hours before the attack began, IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar recommended a preemptive air strike and immediate mobilization of the reserves. But Prime Minister Golda Meir overruled a first strike. She had been warned by Henry Kissinger that the United States would not support Israel if it struck first again.
Once again, as in all its previous wars, Israel faced overwhelming odds. On the Golan Heights, 180 Israeli tanks faced an onslaught of 1,400 Syrian tanks. Along the Suez Canal, fewer than 500 Israeli defenders with only 3 tanks were attacked by 600,000 Egyptian soldiers, backed by 2,000 tanks and 550 aircraft. Nine non-combatant Arab states provided aid and financial support to the Egyptian-Syrian war effort, while the Soviet Union provided military equipment and intelligence.
At great cost, Israel prevailed once again. Buoyed by massive military aid from America and brilliant military commanders, Israel turned back the initial Arab advances and recaptured the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. For example, under General Ariel Sharon, Israel won the greatest tank battle in history.
By October 15, the Egyptian tank force had been destroyed, and Sharon had crossed the Suez Canal. He quickly surrounded the Egyptian Third Army, immobilized it, and started marching toward Cairo.
Meanwhile, in the north, the Israeli forces had cleared the Golan Heights, recaptured Mount Hermon, and began driving toward Damascus.
By October 15th, Israeli forces were 25 miles from Damascus and 63 miles from Cairo when the Soviets demanded the UN to call for a cease-fire. Once again, Israel had prevailed when there seemed to be no hope.
Other Major Conflicts
Since 1967, Israel has contended with Palestinian and Islamic terrorism. Palestinian terrorists demonstrated their hatred at the 1972 Olympics in Berlin when 11 Israelis were brutally murdered. Palestinian hijacking, kidnapping, and bombing have continued to this day.
In 1976, while America was preparing to celebrate its Bicentennial, four terrorists hijacked an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris and diverted it to Benghazi, Libya, and then Entebbe, Uganda. Israel attempted to free 106 hostages and crew through negotiation, but eventually was forced to resort to a daring rescue mission. Under the command of Lt. Col. Jonathan (Yoni) Netanyahu (brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), a commando force flew to Uganda on a C-130 Hercules aircraft. They landed at Entebbe airport, surprised the Ugandan guards, and quickly established control. During the raid, all seven hijackers were killed. Sadly, four hostages were killed — three from crossfire and one at the order of an enraged Idi Amin (an elderly woman had been taken to a local hospital prior to the raid).
Five Israeli commandos were wounded, and tragically Yoni Netanyahu was killed. But Israel had demonstrated its resolve and military prowess once again.
That resolve has been tested repeatedly. Intifadas (“uprising” in Arabic) incited by Yassar Arafat have been followed by attacks from Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Large and small skirmishes have pitted Israel against a nebulous and unscrupulous foe. But time and time again, although bloodied and grief-stricken, Israel has prevailed.
These and other Israeli conflicts of the past 75 years prove, beyond a doubt, that God has His hand on Israel, protecting the Jewish people from assault after assault, and enabling them to achieve miraculous victories — all in fulfillment of Bible prophecies about Israel in the end times.
Nor can there be any doubt that God’s supernatural protection will continue.
Right now, Israel is embroiled in yet another fight for its existence against radicalized Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. It could well prove to be the worst of all the wars Israel has experienced, especially if it blossoms into a regional conflagration. But Scripture tells us that Israel will overcome all these challenges to its existence — because God promised that once He replanted them on their land, “they will not again be uprooted from their land” (Amos 9:15).
If this war turns out to be a fulfillment of the prophesied war of Psalm 83, then Israel will once again be overwhelmingly victorious, defeating all the Arab nations with whom it shares a common border. This will pave the way for the subsequent war of Gog and Magog, described in Ezekiel 38 and 39, when Russia, accompanied by certain Muslim nations, will come down against Israel and suffer supernatural destruction at the hands of the Lord.
Israel has some very difficult days ahead, but God has made some wonderful promises to them that they can rely on. In Psalm 121:4, He says, “Behold, He who keeps Israel will not slumber and will not sleep.” In Isaiah, He promised Israel, “No weapon that is formed against you will succeed” (Isaiah 54:17).
America needs to pay attention to these promises of God. Only by standing with and blessing Israel can we hope to be blessed.
In the end, we know that all the nations of the world will come against Israel. But God will preserve them — so that a great remnant can come to salvation. Let’s pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and the eternal salvation of the Jewish people!
Such a harrowing time for the Lifshitz family, praying deeply for them and the father that is still held captive.