Facebook can be both an entertaining and scary place and the whole drama and excitement over Sarah’s book launch kind of reflected that. You write one sentence or even phrase and people misunderstand it (often intentionally) and use it as ammunition against you. Within a few minutes you’re verging on hysteria and yes, madness too as we saw.
In response to comments made both on and off of Facebook, I would like to make these 10 points:
1) Even though Sarah and me have the same surname and are both blondish, we are not related!
2) The language, personal nature of the attacks and the parallels drawn in the thread discussions were appalling. Since when is it permissible to call someone a neo-nazi or communist for having views different to yours?
3) Social media can be a dangerous place. Some of the comments made on the thread discussions illustrated this. Sometimes when I read what people write on Facebook I really think they should be locked up or at least go to therapy – The anger, aggression and mere stupidity of what’s written – Is that normal?? People forget who they are and say things they wouldn’t be able to in real face-to-face interaction.
4) I volunteered to feature the book launch on my IsraelB online community. Sarah didn’t pay me to do it and I wasn’t hired to promote the event.
5) I thought it would be interesting for the broader Anglo-community and it was. IsraelB serves the whole spectrum and I try to balance the events and content I post without offending anyone. Many people attended the book launch as a result of the publicity on IsraelB and enjoyed the evening.
6) I don’t agree with Sarah’s political or religious views – But, we live in Israel. Since when can’t you talk to someone who has different views to your own?? Like Sarah, I love Jerusalem, find the people who live here fascinating and believe that there will only be a future for the city if we learn to respect those who are different to us. Therefore, I didn’t have a problem promoting the book.
7) I’m not bothered or threatened by hearing views or ideas different to mine, maybe as a result of my education and how I was brought up.
8) As a writer myself, I respect Sarah as a gifted and engaging writer who often focuses on and develops the human side to issues and life in Israel, so often neglected here, when anger and passion takes over, leading us to forget who we really are and that we all children of a Divine Being.
9) If there is one thing I learnt from what Sarah said at her book launch, it was the importance of retaining our sense of humanity and sensitivity to the, ‘other’, despite the complexity and intensity of Jerusalem. Despite the fact that Jerusalem is such a diverse and emotional city with tragically so much blood spilt on both sides ( I’m referring to innocent lives), we as Jews must remain human. If we don’t, then we have detached ourselves from a fundamental value of Judaism and Jerusalem will not be the city of peace and harmony which our prophets dreamt of.
10) It was just a shame the evening finished with England playing really badly in the World Cup game!
Hope that’s clarified things and that England win on Sunday night!