Since last week I have been glued to my phone and laptop, and yes it is my job to do just that, as Campaign Manager for We Believe in Israel.
I need to know what is going on, I want to know what is going on, both from a professional and personal point of view. My sister lives in Tel Aviv and I feel helpless.
The odd moments that I am using my phone to check in with my friends and aimlessly scroll my personal Instagram (oh I miss those days from two week ago) I have seen infographics that make my stomach lurch.
There is so much misinformation being circulated, unfortunately being reshared by people who don’t know enough about the conflict. This includes reality TV stars and celebrities who are posting from untrustworthy sources or making statements reflecting on only half of the story.
A lot has happened since the start of this war, and Sheikh Jarrah is an issue. It is not the only issue, but I won’t deny that it is an issue. Calling for justice for Sheikh Jarrah without condemning rocket attacks is just extremely out of touch. One, you can 100% do both; two, the conflict has been heightened dramatically since then, people on both sides of the border are getting hurt, and a ceasefire needs to be reached.
When celebrities, including politicians, just mention Sheikh Jarrah, it is as if Jewish lives do not matter. Israelis and diaspora Jews all seem to be classed as in cahoots with the Israeli government or certain political ideologies, without giving anyone a benefit of the doubt. But the problem is that social media discourse is not revolving around criticism of the Israeli government, but criticism of Israel for existing, or silence when it comes to Jewish lives.
I find myself falling into the narrative that Jewish lives alone are not enough. I have messaged a reality celebrity on Instagram (it has not been read) wanting to engage about the infographics they have posted (comments disabled) and I felt I always have to justify my narrative, and always have to emphasise that it is not just Jews that are at risk from the rockets.
Because that’s the truth. Not just Jews are at risk. Last week, two Arab Israelis, a 16 year old girl and her father, were murdered by a rocket strike from Gaza in Lod. Yesterday two Thai workers were killed. Rockets are indiscriminate. Besides one third misfiring and landing inside Gaza and not even making it to Israel, the ones which get past the iron dome target both Jewish and non-Jewish citizens alike. But there is still no universal strong condemnation of rocket fire.
And when I engage whether on Instagram or Facebook, I have to justify my identity and I have to justify my politics. Saying I am Jewish and I am offended is not enough. I always start my conversation with ‘this is my politics… I believe in a two-state solution and peace for both sides.’ Which is nothing to be ashamed of, however I feel like I have to say it because if I didn’t why would they listen (and they still might not)?
Pro-Palestinian groups don’t need to qualify or justify their politics. In fact, they don’t and it works to their advantage! They call rallies for Sheikh Jarrah, after a barrage of rockets they don’t condemn, they advertise merchandise with the whole map of Israel, implying they want a Palestinian state covering Israel in its entirety, a one-state solution. The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the largest pro-Palestinian organisation in the UK, has never recognised the right of the Jewish people to their homeland, and refuses right now to recognise the suffering on both sides.
But they release infographics. These are republished widely without giving any thought to the Israelis running to bomb shelters in the middle of the night, adults, children, Jewish, Arab alike.
We need to share the harsh reality of both on social media. We need to open the conversation more. We need everyone to post content on social media, or at least republish reputable sources. We cannot allow misinformation to circulate, we cannot allow people to feel isolated and attacked.
Please help share information. Please hear this call to socials action. If you are uncomfortable creating your own messages, need infographics or suggestions on who to follow please be in touch.
Although the war is taking place in Israel, there is a battle of words and images on social media which is not contained to Israel. Words spread like wildfire and hatred emanates from words. Hatred and isolation does not promote understanding or co-existence – things which are integral for not only this round of violence ending, but an end to the conflict overall.
By tweeting about Sheikh Jarrah and not condemning indiscriminate terrorist rocket attacks, you are saying that Jewish lives don’t matter, but they do, and we should own that.