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July 15, 2014 9:12 pm

Swizz Beats’ ‘FreePalestine’ Post and How to Do Battle for Israel on Social Media

avatar by Henry Stimler

Student volunteers work together from a computer room at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) on the "Israel Under Fire" initiative, which presents the world with Israel's position on the ongoing conflict with Hamas. Photo: Israel Under Fire.

As a rather active participant on social media, I have been posting my thoughts, newspaper articles, and various other links on Facebook and Twitter in regards to what is going on right now in Israel and Gaza. As well as posting, I also follow and read some of the worrying and blatantly anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist posts that many of my detractors share – and I have been stung by the lack of knowledge, false propaganda, and lies that are being posted online by our Arab cousins and some other rabid commentators.

Hashtags such as #hitlerwasright and #hitlerdidnothingwrong are frankly very worrying but I have held firm and posted on Twitter that there was no point getting into a prolonged online argument with people that are just brainwashed and filled with hate.

Last night though on Instagram, singer performer Swizz Beats (therealswizzz) posted a picture saying “Freepalestine, I don’t care whats the problem, you don’t just kill lill kids like that, I pay for peace ASAP.”  I like Swiss Beats and while I liked part of his message the part “free Palestine” irked me, due to the fact that Israel handed Gaza back in 2006. So I wrote my comment thinking that would be it. I warned that “as a smart man before you post you should study, your voice carries weight so make sure you don’t waste it championing causes that are bad.”

What transpired next was what I would like to focus on. A slew of people wrote back, questioning my message and my facts and long into the night and again today it still continues. I have painfully stuck to facts, been polite, and have not reverted to name calling, rather ending with a message of “peace and a blessing be upon you and all of us.” While some people continued to spew vicious lies and hate such as “the 3 boys were killed in a car accident, and Israel is using that as an excuse,” some small barriers were being brought down and a genuine discussion was taking place.

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While I am highly doubtful that minds will be changed, I found it encouraging that the conversation didn’t descend into name calling and messages of hate.

So here is my point:  behind the faceless pages on Twitter, Instagram, and the such are actual people. They believe one thing, we believe another, they are being fed their fair share of hyperbole, and so are we, but we must engage with them in a pleasant, good-natured manner.  That is the way to make our arguments heard.

While I doubt anything will be decided over social media, it is a tool towards dialogue, so let’s keep it open,and express ourselves eloquently, however maddening it is. In the words of the great, late Martin Luther King “I have decided to stick with love, hate is too great a burden.”

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