Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or holding your hands over your ears and quietly humming the Hatikvah, you would most likely have noticed the current situation in Israel. It’s on the tips of our tongues and in the forefront of most of our minds. It is scary, it is horrific, it is distressing but also it is not a surprise. This is not the first time that Israel has been at war with Hamas, this is not the first time rockets have lit up the Israeli sky and innocent Israeli families have run to shelters. This is not unusual. What is strikingly unusual is our reaction to it.
Social media has given us a voice and with this voice we have a major platform to express our opinions freely and publicly. We are all shouting at once, our collective voices have become a choir of experts, politicians, peace makers, Zionists, anti-war, anti-terrorism and even staunch watchers for biased news reporting.
Facebook, a place for social sharing, where the boasting of our children’s great achievements and exceptional school reports, the check-ins at exotic airports to validate our exciting lifestyles has been replaced by posting and sharing and status updating of all things Israel. We are all concerned and we all think our concern is the correct one, so much so we have decided that you must read it, like it and please share it too.
We have become eagle eyed social editors too. Either we launch into one another in fevered debates, quick to brandish anti-Semitism at whichever person or post we disagree with, or we are fearful to convey our opinion in case we get shot down. We change our profile photos to the Israeli flag and search for quotes from Golda Meir to express what we cannot. We seek to form a social media solidarity in favour of our Jewish land, lest we refrain one would think we didn’t care.
It’s not enough to send a caring stay-safe message via Facebook to our loved ones out there, or show our admiration for the majority of Israeli Tours that have continued this significant rite of passage despite the not so safe passage, we have to criticise the news coverage. Some of us are now finely turned to pick up a biased news reporter on radio, or catch a BBC reporter swaying too empathically to one side.
We have become specialists at weeding out the false images of Palestinians by anti Israeli’s, we make it our mission to cry out in outrage, we all want to share it, show it. So fast are we that we are uploading within minutes, outing the bigot, the misinformed the anti-Israeli amongst the plethora of broadcasters. We gasp and we moan in disgust, we pat ourselves on the back for unearthing the culprit.
Maybe this is therapeutic; it gives us a vital outlet to declare our camaraderie and support for our homeland. Maybe it makes us feel less redundant, sitting in our safe middle class homes, watching the conflict with our ipads on our relaxed laps, not fearful in the ‘Wood that those in Elstree will send a rocket over as night falls. We watch our peaceful children sleep, their sweet innocence undisturbed by a siren, our only worry whether their rooms are too hot in this summer heat. Maybe signing into Facebook gives us just the safe amount of distance to participate in the conflict as we eat our dinners and watch it unfold.
The media will always be biased. If you object to the way that the BBC are reporting then stop complaining on social media and find a news channel that does report it correctly, switch to Sky News or Fox News or CNN and if you really feel compelled post that.
Instead of outpouring your anguish on Facebook, donate to charity, participate, stop hiding behind the safety of your social profile and do something. Words are powerful, so are images, so is highlighting the wrong doing of the media. But, action is always stronger; doing will make you feel less futile. Next time you ask me to donate to your 10k run, run for Israel. Next time you sky dive, sky dive for food vouchers.
We are all just ordinary Jews very worried about the safety of our people and the security of our holy land. Social networks may provide a public forum for discussion but is it not beginning to be a microcosm of the conflict, as we form an army of opinions in defence of Israel? Perhaps in this time of uncertainty we should face up to the fact that although Facebook seems as influential and omniscient as God, let’s face it, our perpetual posting sadly does not have the potency to resolve.