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.
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~A Note on Advocacy by aklionsky


My email has been flooded every time I check it.

Which is a good thing, considering the situation in Israel and the nature of the emails.

Earlier this year I put myself on the listerv for the Penn Israel Coalition (UPenn’s pro-Israel organization.) While they get a lot of their information–especially now–from Stand With Us, the organization is a great resource for updates on what’s going on in Israel, policies, and also pro-Israel events.

I get similar emails from the Jewish Federation, although those are more specifically related to Chicago and Chicago area events.

But perhaps the best tool since the most recent und of fighting began is facebook. Facebook has a plethora of proIsrael groups (and, unfortunately, many groups that are full of hate against Israel). Facebook’s ability to communicate quickly with people around your school and around the country makes it the ideal location for sharing information about the situation, news updates, and announcements about pro-Israel rallies and events going together. Especially since many of the rallies have been put together very quickly, the high turnout is astonishingly impressive, and much of it is due to Facebook.

Other organizations to check out are AIPAC, The Israel Project.

If you encounter bias in the media (which there’s a lot of), please DO NOT hesitate to report it to CAMERA and/or HonestReporting.

Please feel free to check out my two blog posts relating to Israel for a class I’m taking.

B’hatzlacha, good luck, in your advocacy!

~Facebook as an Advocacy Tool? by jord013
April 11, 2008, 3:29 pm
Filed under: opinion | Tags: ,

We all know how popular Facebook is. It’s gotten to the point where even my dad has an account. Sure, there are still the increasingly rare few who decide to take a stand against the networking website by refusing to join, but most people end up checking their Facebook at least once a day.

It makes sense, therefore, that pro and anti- Israel advocates would use Facebook to further their political agendas. Instead of just inviting me to pro-Israel groups like they have in the past, however, advocates have begun inundating my Facebook inbox with pro-Israel messages, demanding that I join this group, email this company, etc. I’m sure you’ve experienced the same.

Is advocacy on Facebook worth it? I think there are two facets of the situation. One- Facebook groups are taking traditional Israel advocacy and multiplying it by 1,000. People who would otherwise have no idea where Sderot is, let alone what’s going on there, are now learning about Israel. Two- Because there are so many Israel-related groups that often overlap in their messages, Facebook users may become overexposed to the issue and lose interest.

The fact that pro-Israel advocates on Facebook are now spamming our inboxes is an example of extreme, and overall ineffective, advocacy. My brain has been programmed from the time I got my first email address to ignore spam- all spam. Let’s not let pro-Israel advocacy on Facebook become grouped in peoples’ minds with some email for a sale at Bath and Body Works or offers for free ipods.

~Facebook goes political by aklionsky
April 1, 2008, 3:06 am
Filed under: arts/culture, opinion, politics | Tags: , , ,

I was flipping through the March 28 issue of the Forward when the word “Facebook” in a headline caught my eye. (click here to link to the article)

After reading the first paragraph of the article, which said that “Israelis in the West Bank woke up earlier this week to be informed that they now live under Palestinian rule,” I was shocked and thought that maybe, just maybe, it was some sort of early April Fools’ Day joke. Alas, after reading on I found that it wasn’t a joke, but that there was a logical explanation.

Residents of Israeli West Bank settlements had their political opinions compromised when Facebook removed “Yesha” (what those Israelis call where they live) and instead automatically displayed “Palestine” as the network for everyone who listed a West Bank address. Previously, Facebook users who listed a West Bank address could choose between Yesha and Palestine as their country.

Facebook’s removal of Yesha prompted a quick response, and users can again choose to list their country as either Israel or Palestine.

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