Oznia, a blog of Israel things

~The war spills to facebook by aklionsky
January 28, 2009, 6:09 am
Filed under: movies/television, opinion, politics | Tags: , ,

War is absurd. But never has it been more absurd than today, than the war that enveloped Gaza and Israel, and their supporters worldwide, for over twenty days. Because this war has spilled into the lives of everyone who owns a TV, who listens to the radio, who has access to the internet. 

This war has called on reservists from the Internet Armies to donate their Facebook statuses, to post videos, to delve deeply into charters and and pamphlets, to enter debates on Youtube. Essentially, this war has incited pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian sentiments among the millions of people who use social networking sites, like Facebook, to share their concerns and opinions.

When I searched “Operation Cast Lead” in facebook, I got 53 group results, ranging from “We oppose Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Palestine!!!” to “Support Israel’s ‘Cast Lead’ operation to stop Palestinian Hamas terrorism.” The groups have sprung up, and every discussion board has intense debates. Israel-supporters join pro-Palestinian groups, and vice-versa, to try to diminish the effect that the group’s “sincere” members have in the discussion boards and wall-posts. 

The groups are everywhere, and not just in America. Facebook is used as a political outlet the world-round, as documented by the New York Times last week. Samantha Shapiro focuses on the use of Facebook in Egypt to create civic participation in politics, and on the diversity of grassroots Facebook groups that have resulted from the current conflict. In Egypt, where so much of the public media and activism is regulated, political participants have focused their efforts in an unregulated medium: Facebook. Via Facebook, they have been able to organize a variety of groups from the basic ones calling for an end to the war in Gaza, to ones criticizing President Hosni Mubarak’s response (or lack thereof) on behalf of the Palestinians living in Gaza.

But in America, too, Facebook has been a major propellor of the war, on both sides. Rallies across the country have been organized entirely via Facebook. In Chicago, there were two pro-Israel rallies held within two weeks of each other. The first was grass-roots; an organization called Club 1948 helped get the word out that there would be an Israel rally downtown, and about 150 people showed up. Every few days I receive another group invitation somehow related to the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. And every day I see more and more Facebook profile pictures of Israeli flags, not faces.

Even something as simple as putting a flag as your picture shows an incredible amount of support for Israel. Because every time someone sees your name, the Israeli flag shows up. And then people who weren’t involved become interested in why they have 50 friends with flags as their pictures, the word spreads, they do their research, and pretty soon they realize that Israel again has to defend herself from Hamas. when I get home every day, I flip through the newest batch of articles and videos posted related to what’s going on, pass around some of the interesting ones, and post the best ones to my own profile.

This increased awareness about what’s going on in the world has brought Israel a lot of problems. But it’s also given Israel many more supporters. because of the ease of communications, pro-Israel activists can reply to anti-Israel links they see, and can counteract anti-Israel comments on discussion boards. 

I let myself get too engaged in one such debate on Youtube. I watched a video about the pain in Gaza. The video was alright, but the discussion below was too one-sided for my taste. So I made some comments, and was shocked at the violent replies that I got (I was accused of being payed by “the zionest” to post comments that are “true lies” and that I was sure to be part of “them war criminals. Take that one without getting angry.)


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