“What world are we living in?” Rabbi Mark Golub asked The Jewish Press.
Last Friday, three days after he delivered a lecture on being a “Liberal American Jewish Zionist Today,” YouTube removed a recording of the speech that JBS uploaded to the site.
Golub, 74, is the president of JBS and the founding rabbi of Chavurat Aytz Chayim, an egalitarian synagogue in Stamford, CT.
Asked by The Jewish Press why YouTube removed the video, Golub said he doesn’t know. “One of the insidious aspects of YouTube’s operation is that they are free to take down and slander speech without ever explaining why,” he said. “It is Orwellian and a form of McCarthyism that was once heinous to general society. To censor speech without ever telling the person why? I find that unconscionable in America.”
“There was absolutely nothing hateful in my talk and there was no call to do harm to anyone,” he said.
Golub suspects that someone at YouTube “built an algorithm that looks for the word ‘Zionist’ or ‘Zionism’ and, if the words come up, YouTube [examines the video in question].” That, too, he said, is “heinous and anti-Semitic and should be condemned by everyone, wherever they are on the political spectrum.”
After a backlash by friends of Golub, as well as friends of Israel and free speech more generally, YouTube reinstated the video.
“The response was overwhelming,” Golub said. “I was shocked – in a good way.” Major Jewish leaders and personages in the news and entertainment industries contacted him and offered to help, Golub said.
Golub said that while he is “pleased that YouTube has restored the program, for YouTube to remove my lecture for any length of time is a cause for profound concern for all Americans committed to free speech.”
He noted that his is not the first pro-Israel video to be censored by YouTube, citing Alan Dershowitz’s video on the founding of the state of Israel as example. YouTube placed Dershowitz’s video in its “restricted” category, which is designed to protect children from violence and pornography. “It is frightening and I believe threat to the fabric to America,” he said.