Benji Lovitt
Because the Middle East is Funny
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The Idiot’s Guide to Internet Talkbacks in Israel

Having read the responses to Sam Ser's 'Next year in Jerusalem? Not likely!' our esteemed talkback expert offers some guidelines on how to interact in a public forum, especially when sensitive issues such as Judaism and Israel are being discussed
I have no idea what you're talking about. From Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Tower of Babel (circa 1563)
I have no idea what you're talking about. From Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Tower of Babel (circa 1563)

In the grand scheme of history, the internet is still in its infancy, just a couple of decades into its existence for most of us.  Blogs and social media have opened the door to new opportunities of interaction and self-expression.  While most of us graduated high school with an education in math, history, and grammar, few of us ever learned any kind of internet etiquette.  Yesterday’s blog post by Sam Ser and some of the subsequent talkbacks were only the most recent reminder that guidelines are clearly needed on how to interact in a public forum, especially when sensitive issues such as Judaism and Israel are being discussed.

Without further ado, here is a guide on how to and how not to comment in a public forum with sample responses to various statements:

Statement:  2+2 =4

Inappropriate talkback:  Obviously.  This is a matter of fact.

Appropriate talkback:  ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR F****ING MIND?!?!   THIS IS A CHILUL HASHEM!!!!

 

Statement:  I personally believe that it would be in Israel’s best interests to withdraw from the West Bank in order to preserve the country’s status as both a Jewish and democratic state.

Inappropriate talkback:  I respectfully disagree.  We cannot risk the West Bank falling into Hamas’s hands.  While the current situation in the West Bank is horrible for the Palestinians, there are tragically no quick and easy solutions.

Appropriate talkback:  NOOOOO!!!!!  YOU ARE A PALESTINIAN SYMPATHIZER!!!!!!  YOU ARE A SYMPATHIZER PALESTINIAN!!!!  YOU ARE A DISEASED GOAT-LOVER WHO HATES JEWISH PEOPLE AND WANT THEM ALL TO DIE!!!!!

 

 

Statement:  Israel, the Start-Up Nation, is a beacon of democracy and innovation.

Inappropriate talkback:  Israel’s advances in technology cannot justify or make up for its policies in the West Bank.  I will therefore exercise my democratic rights from abroad to boycott products made in Israel.

Appropriate talkback:  NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!  YOU ZIONIST OCCUPYING BASTARDS!!!!!!!  YOU ETHNICALLY CLEANSED MY AUNT SUSIE AND I WILL BOYCOTT, DIVEST, AND SANCTION YOUR PINKWASHING ASSES RIGHT AFTER I USE MY ISRAELI-DEVELOPED CELL PHONE AND MAKE MYSELF A SODASTREAM CARBONATED BEVERAGE!!!!!!!!!

 

Statement:  I believe that as a Jewish state, in order to preserve the Jewish nature of the country, buses should not run on Shabbat.

Inappropriate talkback:  While I’m sure you think that would be good for the country, it’s insensitive to the millions of non-religious Jews living here, to say nothing of the non-Jews.

Appropriate talkback:  NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!  YOU AYATOLLAH RIGHT-WING RELIGIOUS DICTATOR NUTJOB!!  I WILL NEVER CONFORM TO YOUR CRAZY BIBLICAL UTOPIA!!!!!!!!!!  F*** YOU AND THE GILDED MESSIANIC CHARIOT YOU RODE IN ON!!!!!!!!

 

Statement:  It pains me greatly to say that I am moving back to America after having lived here for the last 27 years.  I bleed blue and white and my love for this country is a fire that burns within me always.  At the end of the day, you only get one shot on this earth.  The most important thing to me is living a happy and healthy life and being able to provide a stable existence for me and my family.  I have been working three jobs for the last ten years, I drive from my affordable apartment in Metulla to Jerusalem and back every day (four times) in order to put food on my table for my two children.  I am at my wit’s end and have come to the decision that, while it kills me to even write the words, I am moving back to the US.

Inappropriate talkback:  I am so sorry.  This must have been a horribly difficult decision for you to make.  I wish things could have turned out differently but everyone has to do what’s best for him or her.  Personally, I would have made different life decisions but who am I to judge you not having walked in your shoes?  I wish you only good things.  Perhaps G-d, fate, or life will find a way to bring you back here under different circumstances.

Appropriate talkback:  NOOOOOO, YOU LAZY SCUM-SUCKING WHINY ANGLO MAGGOT!!!  BEST OF LUCK BACK IN MATERIALISTIC AMERICA, YOU ANTI-ZIONIST IMMORAL COMMUNIST ANTI-ZIONIST!!!!   YOU DIDN’T TRY HARD ENOUGH!!!!!  WHEN I MADE ALIYAH, I DROVE FROM METULLA TO JERUSALEM FIVE TIMES A DAY (AND THAT WAS BEFORE NEFESH B’NEFESH!!!)  YOU ARE GIVING ISRAEL A BAD NAME!!

HOW DARE YOU CALL MY MOTHER A PSYCHO WHORE!!!  AND WHY DIDN’T MY MOMMY HOLD ME AS A BABY?!?!?! I CAN TALK ABOUT JEWISH VALUES AND SINAT CHINAM WHEN TISHA B’AV COMES BUT WRITE DISGUSTING VITRIOL THE REST OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS THE INTERNET!!!!!!   I’M ALLOWED TO SAY WHATEVER I WANT WITH NO REGARD FOR RESPECT, APPROPRIATENESS, AND OTHER THINGS!!!!

OH YEAH….AND WHUT WUZ I GOING TO SAY???

OH YEAH…..YOU ARE AN IDYOT!!!!!!!!

 

In conclusion, we are all bound to come across many opinions we disagree with on the internet.  Think carefully before responding.  Anyone can express himself coherently and respectfully.  But only a true internet expert can weaken his own argument by making himself look like a judgmental jerk.

About the Author
Since making aliyah in 2006, Benji Lovitt has performed stand-up comedy and educational programs for groups including Jewish Federations, Chabads, synagogues, Masa Israel Journey, and Birthright Israel. His perspectives on aliyah and Israeli society have been featured on Israeli TV and radio and in publications such as USA Today, Time Magazine, the BBC, and more. Benji has worked as a cross-cultural trainer with groups including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Masa Israel and is a popular presenter on the Limmud International circuit. During 2014's Operation Protective Edge, his humorous observations on the war led to his being called in Israel "the only reason to go on Facebook.”
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