Living in Israel, fear comes, quite literally, with the territory. I was afraid when sitting eating hummus in a restaurant when I heard the sirens go off, followed by a rather loud explosion moments later. I was afraid when I was wearing green a couple of days later and waiting to be sent into Gaza. But this is the usual fear. It’s one that either hurts you or it doesn’t, one that as an immigrant you either get used to and stay or can’t handle and leave. I have stopped looking at it as a ‘genuine’ fear and simply regard it as the price I pay for living in the country I love.
This is why when an altogether different kind of fear grips me I feel it so deeply. Yesterday Ha’aretz reported that an Israeli was placed under arrest for a Facebook status. Omri Hayun, who lives in Tel Aviv criticized the state on Facebook and was therefore contacted by Police. His mother was contacted by Police also.
It’s this that really makes me afraid. It’s this that really makes me doubt my government and country. We Israelis are so proud of what we have built here, of what we have accomplished that we find it very difficult not to brag since “we’re the only flourishing democracy in the Middle East” don’t you know?
But are we?
I’m not quite sure what the police think they’re going to achieve by monitoring the Facebook statuses of various Israelis. For sure there is an intelligence element to Facebook, though the detectives who tried to arrest Hayun have no connection with the intelligence services.
This is about social (media) control and it makes me feel very uncomfortable indeed. The fact that as soon as Hayun’s lawyer got in touch with police they admitted that in fact he didn’t have to arrive in court makes me feel even more uneasy in some ways.
If the police knew they had no grounds to do anything then why were they bullying and threatening him in the first place? For that matter why were they even spending their time looking at his Facebook account and how many of our accounts are they looking at right now?
What’s the point in fighting for this country if it becomes everything we’re fighting against?
I would complain on Facebook but…