On Saturday evening, I tweeted a couple of pictures I took at the mass social justice (J14) rally in Tel Aviv. Both drew their inspiration from the Arab uprising – one ordering Prime Minister Netanyahu “GO (in Arabic), this is Egypt,” and the other one, aimed to lift the spirits of the crowd, saying “Walk like an Egyptian.”
(Haaretz’s Yossi Verter reported that Netanyahu was clearly offended by the protesters comparing him to Egypt’s Husni Mubarak.)
I liked those signs. They showed that even in a country that has been dominated by an Islamophobic, anti-Arab tones, and despite of all the security establishment’s warnings about the possible outcomes of removing “friendly” dictators like Mubarak from power, many Israelis identified in an almost instinctive way with the message of hope and freedom in the Arab uprising. It tells you something about the human spirit.
The higher you climb, the deeper the fall is. After a while, I saw that several of the Arab users—mainly Egyptians—who re-tweeted my pictures used the hashtag #thawretweladalkalb. For those who don’t know Twitter, hashtags are meta-tags which allow twitter users to see all the messages on a certain topic.
Thawret Welada-l-Kalb is Arabic “revolution of the sons of dogs.” This is nothing to do with politics – it’s pure anti-Semitism. One of the people using this hashtag tried to explain that he meant Zionist, not Jews in general. Naturally, I don’t buy this, just as you won’t accept an explanation from an Israeli who said “death to all Arabs”, but then clarified he only meant Hamas supporters. Micro-managing your racism only makes things worse.
Yet, at the same time, there were Arabs Twitter users who denounced this hashtag, calling it racist and shameful. And as always in such cases, some of the clearest voices came from Palestinians.