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Palestine's battle for hearts and minds in the Arab world

A new Palestinian PR campaign attempts to recast the conflict by comparing Israeli violence against Palestinians to methods used by Islamic State.

By Jacob Wirtschafter

CAIRO — Eager to re-enlist Egyptian public opinion to their cause, the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo hosted a rare press conference Thursday outlining Ramallah’s current diplomatic agenda. The agenda includes a definitive UN Security Council resolution with a timeline for two states, deployment of international forces to protect the population of the West Bank, and an international fact-finding mission to determine the “root causes” of the current phase of the conflict.

It’s a hard sell, especially as Egypt’s military has intensified security coordination with Israel and after a two-year war by the Sisi administration against the Muslim Brotherhood. A substantial chunk of Egyptians have absorbed the consistent official message linking the banned party of deposed President Mohammed Morsi to terrorists from Hamas and Islamic State.

Last week Karem Mahmoud, Secretary General of the Egyptian Journalist Syndicate, condemned the sporadic coverage of the unrest in Jerusalem and the West Bank characteristic of the large commercial TV channels.

“Some big newspapers in the Middle East have been adopting Israeli narratives. We need to change the Arab media’s narrative to a pro-Palestine one,” Mahmoud told the Cairo daily Al-Ahram.

The new Palestinian PR campaign attempts to recast the storyline by comparing settler and right-wing violence against Palestinians to methods used by IS.

“It is the settlers that work day and night to destroy the two-state solution. They kidnapped and burned Mohammed Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem and they firebombed the home of the Dawabsheh family in Duma. These are ISIS tactics,” said Palestinian Ambassador at the press conference.

Similarly El Shobaky advanced the argument that ambivalence over moving forward with a two-state solution is emanating from the Israeli government and not from the Palestinian Authority.

“Egypt has a strategic interest to put an end to the conflict and bring the stability to the region,” El Shobaky added, “and we appreciate the effort being made here to get a Security Council resolution passed. They have also taken the same position we have both on settlements and Al Aqsa.”

In addition to emphasizing that Netanyahu’s government includes politicians who favor of a change in the status quo arrangements at Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock, Palestinian public diplomacy increasingly contests the interchangeability of terms in the...

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'As long as we choose violence Israel will always defeat us'

Mubarak Awad, one of the main organizers of nonviolent resistance during the First Intifada until Israel exiled him, talks about why only nonviolence can defeat the occupation, how Palestinians must convince Israelis that peace is their own interest, and his fears that without a new nonviolent movement more and more Palestinian youths will be drawn to armed resistance.

By Waleed Shahid (First published in ‘In These Times‘)

The largest Palestinian uprising in the history of the Israeli occupation is largely forgotten today. In the 1980s, thousands of Palestinians took part in large-scale civil disobedience actions, strikes, pickets, boycotts and sit-ins demanding freedom, later becoming known as the First Intifada, the Arabic word for “a shaking off.”

Images of Israeli soldiers clashing with Palestinian teenagers, women and the elderly circulated worldwide as the three major American nightly news broadcasts dedicated more time to the intifada than to any other story. While the “stone thrower” became the dominant image in the later stages of the intifada, vastly underreported were the daily decisions by Palestinians to refuse to cooperate with the Israeli occupation without using weapons.

The intifada polarized Israeli society between those who supported peace with the Palestinians and those who desired increased repression of the resistance.

“Frustration [inside Israel] also stems from the fact that many Israelis, of all political persuasions, have come to feel that where the conflict with the Palestinians is concerned, their country is living a lie,” described two Israeli writers in 1989. “They now believe that their leaders deceived them in pronouncing that the Palestinian people did not exist; that the Arabs in the territories did not want their leaders; that the PLO forced itself on the Palestinians by violence and intimidation; that the status quo of occupation could be maintained indefinitely.”

By 1988, more than 500 Israeli military reserves signed a petition refusing to serve in the Palestinian territories, claiming that the IDF’s presence in the Palestinian territories was immoral and undermined Israel’s own security. The Israeli organization Peace Now mobilized thousands of Israelis demanding a negotiated end to the conflict. In 1989, villagers in Beit Sahour engaged in six weeks of civil disobedience, publicly burning their Israeli identity cards and refusing to pay taxes to Israeli authorities.

The intifada did not end the Israeli occupation, but it did break end the decades-long stalemate between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. More importantly, it made...

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Rabin’s legacy: A government inclusive of all citizens — not only Jews

People generally associate Rabin’s legacy with the Oslo Accords, for which he was later murdered. Less cited is the fact that Rabin’s revolution was dependent on a one-time collaboration with Arab members of Knesset. Today, just like then, that remains our premier task.

By Ron Gerlitz

When I was in basic training in the army, our commanders woke us up in the middle of the night to tell us Rabin had been elected prime minister. The night he died, I was on a naval patrol boat on a routine and not-so-heroic mission off the coast of Lebanon. The radio was the most interesting form of entertainment that cold night — that is, until I heard about his murder.

A few minutes later, while still trying to get over the shock of it, soldiers from the ship’s bridge yelled to us that we were being shot at from the coast. I ran upstairs and saw something I will never forget; a red stream of tracer bullets raining down in the direction of Al Rashidiya Refugee Camp. It took me a while to realize they were not shooting at us, and were rather celebrating the death of Rabin. I calmed down.

I stopped the boat and continued to stare out at the rain of lights over the refugee camp in southern Lebanon. I was young and naïve. I saw but I didn’t understand. I mean, wasn’t Yitzhak Rabin a man of peace? Why the hell were they so happy about his death? The Palestinians, refugees of villages in the Galilee who had been relegated to a refugee camp since 1948, were less naïve than me. They hated Israel and were rejoicing over the death of the prime minister. That same bitter night, when pistol shots in Tel Aviv revealed the fault line within Israeli society, I witnessed other shots fired in Lebanon and I learned a lesson about the intensity of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The formative experience I underwent that evening was probably partially due to the fact that life led me to the Jewish-Arab battlefield, and that is where I am, marching through a ravine with Jews and Arabs trying to forge a solution to the conflict between two peoples who share a common homeland.

Rabin’s revolution

Rabin was basically the only prime minister who tried to solve the conflict. It is important to remember the base of...

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You may not see it, but Jerusalem is being torn apart

Redrawing the map of Jerusalem will not lock out potential attackers. Instead, it will only spark the sort of reaction one could expect following the wholesale nullification of rights from a significant number of Palestinians.

By Yoav Galai

With so much being written about the volatility of the status quo on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, a bigger picture of a deeply divided city breaking apart is becoming lost. On Sunday, Israel’s Channel 2 reported that the government is considering revoking the residency status of Palestinians in East Jerusalem who live beyond the separation barrier. Though this would potentially remove tens of thousands of Palestinians from the city, such a move is only possible today due to a series of actions taken by municipal and state authorities over years.

The checkerboard of East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem is the municipal area stretching around 28 villages annexed to Israel following the 1967 war. Within a few years, Israel began constructing Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem — part of the government’s official policy of treating Jerusalem as a “united city.” Today over half a million people live there, the majority of them (around 300,000 people) are Palestinian. Looking out, Jewish and Palestinian neighborhoods checker the eastern part of the city.

The picture below runs across the checkerboard, so to speak. It is taken from the direction of the Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv. In the foreground one can see the Palestinian neighborhood of Sur Baher. Behind it, the tall and orderly buildings on the hilltop is the settlement of Har Homa, and over in the distance are the West Bank cities of Bethlehem (right) and Beit Sahour (left):

Armon Hanatziv and Sur Baher. (photo: Yoav Galei)

While the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem enjoy all of the amenities a leafy suburb could expect, the Palestinian neighborhoods are in shambles. Garbage is often burned rather than collected; there is an acute lack of classrooms; the absence of approved city planning make construction mostly illegal, leading to frequent house demolitions; areas adjacent to Palestinian neighborhoods are declared “green areas” to prevent their expansion; and 84 percent of Palestinian children live below the poverty line.

To make things worse, since the turn of the millennium, several new Jewish settlements have been established in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods. They have been the...

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Why do J.K. Rowling and her opponents so misunderstand BDS?

Whether they support BDS or oppose it, everyone wants to feel like they are Harry Potter fighting off Voldemort. Though perhaps it’s best we leave Harry out of this debate.

By Jeremiah Haber

J.K. Rowling has signed a statement against the cultural boycott of Israel, and has called instead for cultural engagement. Some of her Palestinian fans have objected, pointing to Harry Potters’ fight against Voldemort and the Death Eaters. In her reply she asks her readers to consider Dumbledore’s attempt to engage with Snape, then a Death Eater.

As a fan of the Potter series who has expressed solidarity with the global BDS movement (though not all elements of it equally), I can only roll my eyes at both sides.

I understand why J.K. Rowling thinks that Palestinians supporters of BDS are motivated by the righteous anger and desire for revenge that motivates Harry for much of the series, and that one answer to that anger is to seek out like-minded allies on the other side, to engage, to dialogue, to build projects together.

I understand why Palestinian fans of Harry think that Israel is run by Death Eaters, its justice administered by the likes of anti-muggle ideologues like Dolores Umbridge, or mudblood persecutors like Bellatrix Lestrange.

What I don’t understand is how both parties can so misunderstand the BDS movement, at its core a human rights movement, which calls upon the State of Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands, give full equality to its citizens, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland in accordance with UN Resolution 194.

With the likes of Voldemort and Lestrange there can only be war, and justice can be served only by their total defeat. I have no doubt that many Palestinians and their supporters would like nothing less than their oppressors being scattered over the face of the earth. I understand the human desire to punish and avenge.

But that’s not what the BDS movement is about, not at least in its official statements. (What individuals think is not my concern.)  The movement is about applying pressure to Israel to change its policies. Israel is singled out by Palestinians and their supporters because their rights are singled out by Israel for violation.

J. K. Rowling doesn’t understand this. She confuses boycotting with anti-normalization, and she thinks that Israeli artists are boycotted because they are Israeli (they are not)....

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A life of constant fear for Jerusalem Palestinians

From checkpoints and soldiers to the fate of our children, fear is everywhere in East Jerusalem these days.

By Fuad Abu Hamed

Friends, I want to tell you about what is happening to us in East Jerusalem. Even today, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Jerusalem live a life of fear. This kind of situation is completely unprecedented.

Palestinians fear having their residency revoked; they fear being cut off from their city, from Al-Aqsa Mosque, from the Old City, from their families, from their schools. Every morning dozens of people try to rent or buy an apartment on the Israeli side of the wall; Palestinians who live in neighborhoods of East Jerusalem where a wall is planned live in the same fear; they feel this is part of a process — that their turn is yet to come.

There is a fear of the cruel closure that continues to disrupt the lives of the residents, causing students, doctors, teachers, and businesspeople to constantly be late. The neighborhoods of Jabal Mukaber and Issawiya are besieged and the traffic police are always handing out tickets. Dozens of young people, women and the elderly continue to be humiliated at checkpoints under the guise of routine searches (earlier this week, Channel 10 published testimonies from the interrogations of young men accused of throwing stones in the neighborhood of Sur Baher. One of the suspects, Abed Duweit, said he was humiliated by Border Police officers an hour before he decided to throw stones.)

What will the parents do?

Several days ago two Jewish women from the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv came to hand out cakes to the soldiers stationed at the Sur Baher checkpoint. An elderly man who came with them waved a giant Israel flag, along with a two-year-old boy and a cute, white dog. The soldiers at the checkpoint were elated, bringing traffic to a standstill as they welcomed their supporters, all while hundreds of Sur Baher’s residents were prevented from entering or exiting the neighborhood.

The situation inside the neighborhoods is awful. Even the little that the municipality used to do for them no longer happens. The trash is not properly collected, and the dilapidated infrastructure is buckling under constant street closures that cause a huge mess, not to mention unrest among residents.

People are afraid of leaving for work or seeking medical treatment at the hospital....

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Israel demolishes Bedouin village of Al Araqib — for the 90th time

Things have been quiet in the Negev lately. So the authorities decided to take advantage of this period of relative calm and, while everybody’s attention was elsewhere, sent the bulldozers to destroy the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al Araqib — for the 90th time.

By Avi Blecherman

Bulldozers returned to the Israeli Bedouin village of Al Araqib on Wednesday, along with police officers and someone from the Israel Land Authority. For the 90th (!) time, bulldozers destroyed the shacks and lean-tos the villagers have been living in since the authorities destroyed their original brick homes just over five years ago.  They didn’t need too many police officers, nor many bulldozers. Just two were enough. Along with one person from the Israel Land Authority, and some drivers. It’s routine now. Everyone knows their role. Including the villagers.

The residents stood helplessly as their few remaining resources — lumber, canvas and tarpaulin sheets — were confiscated or broken. They rescued a few possessions —  kitchen utensils, mattresses, children’s toys and some chairs. Then they stood back and watched the bulldozers do their work. Afterward, as on all the previous occasions, they stood there and took photos. What else can they do. Where do they find the strength to stay there, not to be broken, to rebuild from the ruins once again.

I called Aziz Alturi, one of the leaders of the struggle for Al Araqib.

Hello Aziz, I’m looking at the photos you posted on Facebook and my heart is twisting again. This is the 90th time, isn’t it?

Yes, this is the 90th time. They came this morning, in this freezing winter weather, with the rain pouring down. Yesterday we had a huge downpour, and today and tomorrow are supposed to be stormy as well. But the government does not care. It has its plans to carry out. It doesn’t matter if it’s pouring rain, or a heat wave, or the middle of Ramadan. Every day is a good day for waging war against citizens of Israel. Look at how the whole country is outraged that a few thousand houses lost electricity because of the storm. That’s all they’re talking about. Well, look at us. Here in the Negev we’ve been living without electricity for more than 60 years. Without access to running water. And look at how hard it is for them to live without electricity for one day. So how are we...

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Educating toward peace: Two narratives for two peoples

After Oslo, Israel made an attempt to institutionalize education toward peace, but it drowned in bloodshed and violence. A look at the situation today.

By Gil Gertel

Not a single educator has made a single educational declaration regarding the current situation over the past month. Nothing. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett keeps repeating that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “is the head of the serpent of incitement.”

In 1994, following Israel’s peace talks with the Palestinians and with Jordan, the school system, too, addressed the subject. It was called “education toward peace.” To quote the newsletter published by the Curriculum Department of the Ministry of Education:

Among other things, education toward peace was established as a major subject for the school system in 1995. A memo from the ministry’s director-general instructed teachers to:

Indeed, internal debate inside Israel was lively, at times even violent, since peace was portrayed as a political position as opposed to a cherished value. The political right wing claimed that under the guise of peace studies, teachers were actually required to advocate the left-wing’s political solution. In the official text book and curriculum then published by the Education Ministry, titled “Toward Peace – Feeling the Pulse,” Tzvi Lam proposed “the teacher’s test” as a way of dissipating tensions between peace and politics. Namely: “the teacher’s unbiased ability to examine positions contrary to his/her own. And the ultimate test: his/her ability not to rule in favor of his own position and against a contrary one in class.”

In an essay that accompanies schools’ civics curricula to this day, Sarah Zamir supports the idea and suggests that “the ‘teacher’s test’ is also a test for education toward peace: such that presents to the student a spectrum of political views, education toward peace that is essentially political, cognitive and rational, and not political, sentiment-based and an attempt to proselytize.”

As positive as the “teacher’s test” sounds, I find it too good. I can hardly imagine teachers meeting such a lofty goal. Be that as it may, the debate around education toward peace has drowned in violence and bloodshed, and vanished.

In 2009, then-education minister Yuli Tamir hoped to introduce peace into the educational agenda again. She appointed a “public commission on education toward a shared life by Jews and Arabs in Israel,” headed by Prof. Gabi Solomon and Dr. Mohammad Issawi. The commission made its wise and positive recommendations, but...

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Yitzhak Rabin never supported Palestinian statehood

For 20 years the Israeli Left has utilized selective memory to reinvent the late prime minister. In reality, Rabin only wanted to grant the Palestinians limited autonomy, a goal he achieved through the Oslo Accords.

By Yakir Adelman

Ahead of the 1992 elections in Israel there was a televised debate between Yitzhak Rabin and incumbent prime minister Yitzhak Shamir. At the end of the debate Shamir was allowed to ask his opponent a question of his choice: “Do you really want a Palestinian state within the land of Israel?” Rabin answered decisively: “I oppose a Palestinian state between us and the Jordan [river]. At the same time, I don’t not want 1.7 million Palestinians to become citizens of Israel.” Rabin added that he voted in favor of the “autonomy plan” that Menachem Begin proposed as prime minister in 1978.

Once you watch the video of the debate (Hebrew) it’s possible to start questioning whether Rabin’s policies have since been revised and altered retroactively, if only because all of the historical evidence says as much: Rabin opposed a Palestinian state until the day he died. The Oslo Accords were not meant to result in Palestinian statehood, it was more of a repackaging of Menachem Begin’s old idea of autonomy. When Begin came into power in 1977, he came up with a diplomatic plan according to which the State of Israel would continue to control the West Bank without actually ruling the Palestinian population that lives there. The Palestinian people were slated for autonomy, an autonomous “Palestinian authority” of sorts that was never meant to become a state.

The idea of autonomy was born shortly after the Six Day War, when a team of ministers discussed the matter of the newly occupied territories. It was the “ministerial council for security affairs,” a secret forum that met on the 18th and 19th of of June, 1967, led by Prime Minister Levy Eshkol and others, including Menachem Begin. The council decided that the occupied territories of Sinai and the Golan Heights would be held for the time being, but that they would be used as bargaining chips to make peace with Egypt and Syria down the road. Peace with Egypt actually happened, and attempts to reach a peace deal with Syria were made in earnest.

Regarding the West Bank, however, the council decided that the captured territory would not be used as a...

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How to bungle an investigation into settler violence

A Palestinian man identifies the Israeli settlers who cut down his olive trees. Police close the case anyway, claiming they have no idea who the perpetrator is — without ever questioning the suspects.

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz

I am considering demanding a refund from Israeli Treasury for the portion of my taxes they spent on the division of the Israel National Police operating in the West Bank (Samaria and Judea Police Department, or SJPD), since it is clearly a superfluous expense. This blog is not, to say the least, an admirer of the SJPD, but this time special forces would be required to help it find its missing jaw.

The case goes as follows. The client, Abd Al Latif Dar Samkhan, who resides in the village of Ras Karkar, heard on April 19, 2014 from his neighbors that settlers were on his land damaging his olive trees. He hurried to the scene along with members of his family, where he found a group of Israeli civilians (accompanied by two dogs) who were busily cutting down his trees. The Israelis retreated to a nearby pond, where they mocked the angry landowner and told him they were not scared of the police, using the opportunity to curse the name of the Prophet Muhammad. The Israelis climbed into a white car and – according to the witnesses – vanished in the direction of the settlement Neriya. They left behind some 60 cut-down olive trees.

IDF and police forces reached the scene, where the police immediately took preliminary statements – with which it did nothing. In addition to the client was a witness, Azmi Samkhan. A month after the incident, on May 19, 2014, Azmi was summoned for a second testimony; he was asked to provide evidence that the land was indeed his. The police summoned him again the next day, and this time asked him to partake in a photo identification.

Azmi’s response was unequivocal: he positively identified three suspects. “This is the man who threw stones at me,” he says, “that is the one who was cutting down the trees,” and “this one climbed on top of a sapling in order to break it down.” The identities of the suspects are known but we are forbidden from publishing their names; the police have the names. Azmi also described, once more, the dogs that followed the attackers: a black...

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Netanyahu and the Mufti memes, part deux

From The Simpsons, to Seinfeld to Joe Biden, Israelis keep poking fun at their prime minister for his comments earlier this week, in which he seemingly absolving Hitler of responsibility for the Holocaust. (See part one.)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shocked a good part of the population of earth when he seemingly absolved Adolf Hitler of responsibility for the Holocaust by saying the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, convinced him to initiate the Final Solution.

This is what Netanyahu said in his speech to the World Zionist Congress on Monday:

The prime minister clearly wasn’t ready for what came next. Historians, commentators, politicians and even the chief historian of Israel’s official Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, quickly pounced on Netanyahu’s revisionist narrative of the Holocaust.

Israelis aren’t known for shying away from Holocaust humor, or ridiculing their own elected officials, and an unending stream of Internet memes began sprouting throughout the various social media networks.

Yesterday we brought you what we thought were the funniest of the memes. But they kept coming. So, by popular demand, here are some more.

Most of the memes played on the excuse that “the mufti made me do it,” and a hashtag, #MuftiMadeMeDoIt, started trending on Tuesday. What better a symbol of shirking responsibility is there than Bart Simpson?
By midday Tuesday even the German government felt the need to responded to Netanyahu’s revisionist history, putting out a statement saying: “We see no reason to change our view of history in any way. We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.”

One Israeli tied in the current refugee crisis in Germany with Netanyahu’s Mufti comments. “If you expel them, they’ll all come here,” German Chancellor is portrayed as telling Netanyahu, who is currently on a visit to Germany. “So what do you propose?” Netanyahu responds, in the Hebrew-language meme. (Below)
Of course there was the obligatory reference to Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi.
And another used a Hebrew-language educational program to mock Netanyahu, playing on the almost identically sounding Hebrew words for Holocaust survivor (right) and “Holocaust exploitation” (left).

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East Jerusalem's walls are turning our city into one, giant prison

These walls have already built unseen fences of hatred and will continue to exist in our midst as a malignant poison. Where we have built walls, we will have to build even higher and higher walls.

By Yudith Oppenheimer

Let’s talk about life for a moment, about how we can live in this city. Let us set aside for now the differences of opinion on sovereignty and eternity and talk about this moment, in which we can still steer matters to their semi-sane course, and can still safeguard with the fragile, imperfect, problematic reality that we had here until a few days ago. It is difficult to believe, but we may yet miss this reality as a yearned-for island of near-normalcy that we have lost for some time.

Let us make no mistake. Even if in a week, two weeks, a month, a year, the concrete barriers are removed that are now blocking the entrances and exits of the Palestinian neighborhoods and separating them from their Jewish neighbors and from the city that is their only home – we will no longer be able to erase the stinging memory of the concrete barriers that we set up between us and them. The ones that have turned their home in the heart of the city into a series of shunned and isolated ghettos.

These walls have already built unseen fences of hatred and will continue to exist in our midst as a malignant poison. And where we have built walls, we will have to build even higher and higher walls. After all, a decade ago we already built a barrier and turned eight Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem into enclosures of humiliation and poverty, displacing residents in their own city. Now we are building a barrier between one barrier and another — and between these barriers and the barriers to come. In the end we will know only more and more fear.

Indeed, we are frightened to the very bone. Who isn’t? Who is not frightened today in this city, where the streets of have become traps of fear not only for Jews but for anyone who walks down them, drives and rides, buys and sells, requests or provides service. We have been intermingled with one another for close to 50 years and our fate is intertwined. Without the Palestinians, life in the city will shut down, from...

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How social media amplifies anxiety over terrorism

Can a society in a constant state of anxiety formulate policies to deescalate political tensions?

By Dr. Ronnie Olesker

I asked my students to go on a social media diet with me recently. “But how will we talk to our friends and family?” they exclaimed. “What if there is an emergency? How will we know about it?”

Digital communications between friends and loved ones have become ubiquitous. I wanted my students to experience life as we “used to know it” when you picked up the phone and called someone or actually interacted directly.

Yet I had to ask whether I would be able stick to the diet myself this past week as tension and violence have escalated in Israel, my home country, while my phone is bombarded with dozens of push notifications alerting me to the daily attacks.

According to a 2012 study conducted by Dr. Yuval Dror of the College of Management, 70 percent of Israelis are Internet users, and over half of those use social media. Seventy-five percent of teens are active users of social media (compared with only 64 percent of American teens).

WhatsApp, an application that allows members to send free unlimited text and multimedia messages, is a common form of communication in Israel. Most people are members of several groups on the app (teens with all their classmates, parents, co-workers etc.) and communicate with those members daily. The platform allows for a virtual mob mentality to develop easily, especially in times of crisis, such as the current rise in violence. Those groups then become platforms for enhanced anxiety, affirmation of hysteria, and mutual radicalization.

This phenomenon is not new. In 2012, the IDF announced the start of Operation Pillar of Defense in a post on Twitter, making it perhaps the first war to be declared on social media.

During the 2014 Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, peace activists and those who dared to show any sympathy for Palestinians were viciously attacked on social media. The hashtag #ZionStandUp began trending on Twitter with posts calling for a “Death sentence for leftists & Arabs.” It was accompanied by a Facebook campaign of half naked teenage girls in provocative poses tweeting their wishes of death to “stinking Arabs” hoping that they might “be paralyzed & die with great suffering!”

I lost several Facebook friends after I could not longer tolerate their racist posts. Social...

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