Operation Pillar of Defense: Facebook under Siege

This week has emotionally exhausted me!  But, it hasn’t been the missile the shook my apartment or the bomb that blew up a bus on the street where I work that have taken the real toll.  It’s been Facebook.

This week, it has been impossible to send a birthday memo or chat with an old friend without being bombarded by accusatory messages, gory images or extremist PR stumps.  These media blasts frequently and dangerously make generalizations about populations; fail to differentiate between the acts of leaders and the acts of citizens; and provoke unreasoned, emotional reactions.  Maybe, these blasts are convincing.  Maybe, they have the capability to swing their viewers from one side of the political spectrum to the other.   But, my intuition tells me that these media blasts do no such thing.  Instead, they further fracture our society. They ignite disgust towards those of differing political perspectives and legitimize injudicious feelings of the superiority of one’s own partisan leanings.  For over sixty years, both Israelis and Palestinians have failed to meet their aims in large part due to fractioning within their own societies.  Increased divides within each society only lead us further away from peace.

Meanwhile, Facebook has the potential to be a forum for very productive discourse.  It could be the platform for conversations about the following issues: (1) to what extent are the terms of the ceasefire achievable, (2) how will this conflict shape dynamics within Israeli and Palestinian civil societies in the long term, and (3) in which civil institutions must each side invest in order to decrease the prevalence of those grievances that are used to justify violent acts?

Consider these questions the next time you open up your Facebook account.  Or, at least leave that image of the dying child or the fanatic suicide bomber alone and instead send a message to a friend to check in on him or her during these trying times.

About the Author
Anna Rose Siegel currently lives in Washington, D.C. and is the D.C. Coordinator for Right Now: Advocates for African Asylum Seekers in Israel. She previously lived in Tel Aviv and worked at the African Refugee Development Center and the Negev Coexistence Forum.