Yesterday I wrote, in self-deprecating jest, “if I briefly abandon my post on Facebook, will Israel still win the war?”
For I, like so many others who cherish Israel, have spent the past week as a self-appointed, self-anointed cyber-warrior for the Jewish state, to the extent that it must seem to my Facebook friends and Twitter followers that Hamas has hijacked my news feed. I usually post about translation and language-related topics, photography from my travels, bits of Israel advocacy and Proud-Mama-Moments. Since the war broke out last week, however, it has been All-Israel, All-the-Time.
I dearly want to believe that I am serving Israel, rather than filling some internal need to assuage my own quasi-guilt at no longer living there, and my own desire to be as connected as possible during these difficult days. As a translator and interpreter with extensive business and personal connections in numerous countries around the world, I harbor the hope that I have been a worthwhile conduit to the Israeli perspective and that my serial posts have not resulted in being blocked from my friends’ news feeds. I have to confess, though: I wonder.
How much is too much? Have my frequent postings on the war resulted in greater understanding for Israel or in increased alienation? I don’t purport to know the right balance. I think that what we are doing is vitally important, in this age of social media. But I am not at all convinced that we are doing it well.
And most of all, I’m not sure that the barrage of infographics is making our case. I confess that I am weary of them; I think that there is a saturation point that we have, regrettably, passed.
Allison Kaplan Sommer wrote an outstanding and definitive piece in Haaretz on the problematic nature of much of our information effort. I share the view that we may be overdoing it, and unintentionally, in our zeal, reducing our war of defense to the level of a video game.
What to do? How to accomplish it best? I desperately want my friends around the world to understand what we are up against. I want them to know about the reality of the false reporting, and that photos from the massacre in Syria and suicide attacks in Jerusalem are reprehensibly being misrepresented as images of the unfortunate, often Hamas-induced deaths in Gaza. I very much want them to comprehend the omnipresent threat to our citizens and our cities and the reality of being bombarded on a daily basis with missiles.
Here is the rub: I am not sure what the takeaway from the gory graphics and the Holocaust images is for the average Facebook friend. I’m not at all certain that it is serving our case. “Like, if you think that Israel has the right to defend itself” and “Share this, if you support the IDF” – well, clearly as a proud Israeli and a former soldier in a paratrooper brigade (far more years ago than I care to count), I couldn’t agree more with either of those sentiments.
So, why am I having difficulty with the medium? I have an inescapable sense of overkill, and I fear that we have cheapened and diluted our own message. What’s next? “Share, if you think that Israel has a right to exist?” Simply put, I don’t want the legitimacy of my country reduced to a Facebook click.
I’m not a social media expert. I don’t purport to have a better alternative. I can only share my misgivings and my desire for a more intelligent, effective and dignified way.