Israel / Palestine

Reporting from the Facebook Frontline in the Israeli/Hamas War


Of course, the real war between Israel and Hamas is being fought in Gaza and Israel,  but there is another front, social media. It is a different front because there is no real danger to the participants. But that does not mean they are not being injured.

Before I go further, I have to say that the 100s of dead Palestinians, many of which are non-combatants including children, is heartbreaking. While Israel has only suffered tens of deaths, mostly soldiers, the pain this causes to the families of those that perished is just a powerful as it is for the Palestinians that have lost loved ones. And both Palestinians and Israelis are living with the constant threat although clearly the Palestinians in Gaza have seen much more of the realization of that threat.

I am not going to discuss the causes of the conflict and who is responsible. The purpose of this post is just to reflect on my own experience of the Facebook Front.

It is shocking to see how divided my friends are although I would say the majority of my friends are pro-Israel. I do have friends that have taken the Palestinian side and in particular my Palestinian friends.

The weapons in the Facebook Front are links and photos and sometimes comments. Palestinians supports will lob dead baby photos. Israeli supporters will publish photos and videos of the Hamas Tunnels. There will be links to newspaper articles taking one side or the other. Very few of the post or comments from my Facebook “friends” call for understanding and peace or at least stop in actual fighting.

As a Jew, I have been shocked by the anti-Semitic comments I have read. I am not equating being anti-Israeli with being anti-Semitic. I am talking about comments about killing the Jews all over the world. The stuff going on in France has been a shock. But I also see Jews including Israelis calling for the death of the Palestinians.

I am myself a soldier in the Facebook Front. I try to make sure that I only post links that I have checked because a lot of stuff on both sides is just made up. But I find myself on the Israeli side. But that does not stop my from having empathy for Palestinians.

Those of us fighting in this Front will probably come out of it was emotional scars. We will lose some real friends. Many people report that they have “unfriend” people because of their position on the conflict. I do not do that. I want to hear and see what people have to say even if I disagree with them.

It is pretty clear to me that social media is just bringing heat and not light to the conflict.

13 thoughts on “Reporting from the Facebook Frontline in the Israeli/Hamas War

  1. Social media is just the newest form of mass communication. And like so many puppets the machine pulls our strings, with an algorithm of hate. It doesn’t have to be. We could flood the machine with love.

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  2. There are no winners in a war so I am glad that you wrote this piece.
    I wonder where the Hamas funders are spending their summer vacations. Clearly they don’t worry about the impoverished, suffering Palestinians who are living in the terror that they have created.
    I also cannot understand why the Israelis do such an inadequate job of telling their side of the story. What other nation would allow rocket fire and tunnels into their country?

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  3. Avram – Fareed Zhakaria made a great comment on Jon Stewart the other day..namely that technology (not just social of course) is changing of conflicts…the same miniaturization that makes your iphone millions of times more powerful than the lunar lander makes for smaller and more battery efficient radar, communication devices, and ability to destroy… he pointed to the Malaysian flight shot from the back of a truck…wasn’t been possible 10 years ago. the cost of battle is asymmetrical, for every dollar Al Queda spent fighting the US, the US spent $7 MILLION. For israel its less, but its an interesting observation.

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  4. Rachel, it is true that the cost of offense and defense have changed a great deal. It use to be possible just to build a moat with dirt, rocks and water. Now Israel has to do it with the anti rocket rockets. The example of the use spending $7 million for every dollar that Al Queda spent is not a good one. What the USA did was indescribably stupid. I trust that Israel will be smarter about what it does. Also, Israel uses the some of the same tools. By the way, how do you think Israel has every ones cell phone number in Gaza. Israel has put their enemy (Hamas) inside the moat. Remember, all the electricity and gas that goes into Gaza comes from Israel.
    If Israel acted like the USA did in WWII there would not be a Gaza left standing.

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  5. Well written, Avram. While I am not surprised by what I see on Facebook, it has definitely been a wake up calls for my kids. They have been shocked by the posts of some of their friends…..and I am not talking about Facebook friends, I am talking about friends that they made in college.

    The situation is tragic for both sides, but the saddest thing is how ill informed people who are commenting on Facebook are. I don’t know what the answer will be, but you are right, we will all be left with scars.

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  6. “War is not the answer” – does anyone remember that from the ’70’s ?
    Yes, in anger and fear one reaches out for whatever tool is available to protect oneself.
    From my own emotional distance from both sides I only see pain and tragedy and it breaks my heart . It seems that most of us “spectators” tend to have a reaction of siding with the underdog in the situation – Palestinians. Of course that does NOT apply when you are a US Republican dealing with the onslaught of children from Central America: a region similarly scarred by incessant and exploitative interventions (mostly US).
    In the context of this conversation, I remember seeing years ago a tv report noting that Hamas – in addition to amassing weapons and such – also provides social services to Palestinian families (at the time pretty much the only org to do so). Palestinian men were not allowed into Israel on a daily basis, but the women were allowed to work as cleaning workers primarily in Israel, and Hamas provided among other things – childcare services to these working women. I bring this up because we tend to have these conversations with a rarefied view, forgetting that most people’s lives are comprised by the daily “details” of real life. THIS is where I believe, lies the opportunity for peace – addressing real needs of real people.

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    • Miranda, of course war is not the answer but it the practise. Hamas does provide social services but don’t think it is out of the generosity of their heart. I can understand and personally have sympathy for the people of Gaza. I think that Hamas is a criminal and terrorist organization. While I can certainly find fault with the Israeli Government and do not support many of its policies, I cannot compare them to the evil that is Hamas. If you want to understand Hamas better, study the behavior of ISIS. They are both made out of the same cloth (including the wearing $10,000 watches).
      I am just about to publish a post on what I think it a constructive solution to the problem of Gaza. I will be interested in your comments.

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  7. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” -K.Kristofferson
    That’s where Palestine and Hamas are at now, despair. While I understand Israel is trying to prevent rockets and munitions from coming into Gaza, that doesn’t seem to be working too well. Israel can blockade the border, but Hamas can build tunnel after tunnel, some at a cost of a million dollars each. How is it that someone is willing to spend lots of money on tunnels, rather than on bettering the human condition in Gaza? I guess I don’t fully understand the power of hatred, where it is more important to commit to the destruction of your enemy rather than try to improve the lot of your people. And your comment on the behavior of ISIS is absolutely correct. They destroy thousand year old landmarks because they can.

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    • Dale, I remember Janis Joplin singing that. We were in a garage and she was rehearsing. I don’t think it is right in this case. Having nothing to lose is what is causing the problem. Hamas is just a gang like the drug cartels. They have no interest in the people of Gaza.

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