Hamas’ attacks against Israel stirred deep rooted fears and anger amongst Jews both in Israel and around the world. In the aftermath of the attacks, some have taken to social media to express a desire that Israel “turn Gaza into a parking lot,” “finish the job once and for all,” or celebrated the destruction in Gaza. Many of these such comments are misguided, should not be shared and may pose a risk to the one posting.
The specific horrors of October 7 do not have to be recounted. They were the largest single day murder of Jews since the end of Holocaust and recalled the worst of the anti-Jewish attacks of the past 1,000 years. If these acts were a horror to Israeli civilians, it can also be acknowledged that Israel has to date responded with massive force that has also caused suffering to civilians in Gaza. Even if one fully believes in the justness of Israel’s cause, irrespective of if one believes that the Israeli response is Hamas’ responsibility, or that it is Egypt’s fault for not offering an exit path, the fact is that residents of Gaza are suffering and dying in large numbers. The Bible in the Book of Proverbs (Mishlei), chapter 24, says “bin’pol oivecha al tismach.” More fully, and translated, the line reads as follows: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart rejoice when he stumbles, or the Lord will see and disapprove, and turn His wrath away from him.” Death and destruction need not be celebrated. If the biblical admonition does not move you, at least note that the most callous posts can be taken by anti-Israel posters to claim to show that Jews are inhumane.
Some social media posts demonstrate a lack of understanding of the actual country Israel and the meaning of slogans. I have seen a number of “Kahana was right” posts. Meir Kahane was an American-Israeli politician who advocated for reduced rights for non-Jews in Israel, including transfer of non-Jews from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza to other countries. Many foreign Jews who visit Israel tend to concentrate their time in the Jewish areas of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and thus do not fully appreciate the degree to which Arab-Israelis are integrated into life in Israel. Haifa in particular is a less visited, more integrated city and southern Israel is home to a large Bedouin population. Statements from non-Israeli Jews about Israeli-Arabs are especially insulting now as both Israeli-Arabs and Bedouin were murdered by Hamas’ attackers. Beyond this, a number of Israeli-Arabs have been particularly visible defending Israel and stating their attachment to Israel. Notable figures to do so include newscaster Lucy Aharish, activist Joseph Massad, and vlogger Nuseir Yassin, better known by his online pages Nas Daily. Further, even Palestinian peace activist Bassem Eid has been visible online placing the blame for Israel’s response on Hamas. Suggesting that “Kahana was right” is self-defeating.
Even if you disagree with the statements above, if you have posted comments on social media that can be read to offend, at least for your own sake be aware that comments online, if captured, are forever and in the cancel culture environment in which we live, can come back to haunt years after the fact.
In 2019, Lara Kollab, a first-year resident at the Cleveland Clinic, was fired for tweets sent in 2012 that said, “ill purposely give all the yahood the wrong meds.” In the past week plus, Dr. Andrew Thierry, who practiced medicine in Beverly Hills, in the heart of the Persian Jewish community and between two large Orthodox Jewish communities, made the mind bogglingly ill-advised decision to tweet “Zionists are genocidal, demonic, greedy, pedophilic retards,” and was summarily fired from his job as Chief Medical Officer of ExpertMRI, before tweeting “I apologize if anyone interpreted my words the wrong way.” The organization Canary Mission documents people and groups that it says are “promoting hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews.” There is no reason to believe that pro-Palestinian groups cannot do the same in an attempt to cancel pro-Israel views. Comments that can be read as offensive should be removed.
Social media can serve many positive uses. It can be used to educate, inform and organize. It can break established media’s control of news and information. But be aware that emotional posts that are perceived as attacking others or being dismissive of their suffering can come back to bite even years later.