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.