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May 20, 2021 1:43 pm
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Is Social Media the Most Dangerous Weapon Against Israel?

avatar by Ben Stone

Opinion

Iraqi demonstrators burn an Israeli flag during a protest to express solidarity with the Palestinian people amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Baghdad, Iraq May 15, 2021. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily.

In 2021, social media is a weapon; it has the power to politicize and the power to spread disinformation. And tens of thousands of students across the US — maybe more — have successfully used social media to find their anti-Israel voices over the past week.

The situation between Israel and Hamas — and the Palestinians in general — is quite nuanced, yet far too many young people have taken to social media to bash Israel for these events, with absolutely no knowledge of the issues involved.

They have done no research into the topic, but simply re-post one or two posts by anti-Israel propagandists that give biased and false narratives, only adding to the divide.

It takes fewer than 30 seconds to repost an Instagram story, and it comes far too easily for American students, who are removed and safe from the barrages of rockets aimed at Israel.

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Duke University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter and other Duke students have been posting Instagram stories purporting to explain “What’s really going on in Sheik Jarrah,” claiming that Israel is suddenly evicting Palestinian families out of the blue and engaging in ethnic cleansing.

This is far from the truth. This has been a legal battle going on for years, and the Palestinian tenants even admitted they did not own the land during court proceedings in the 1980s.

The truth is that Hamas is using this housing dispute to justify its attack on Israel, and to leverage its influence on the region.

Israel and Hamas have been treated as morally equivalent — even though Hamas is a terror organization that aims to kill civilians, while Israel only attacks military targets, and does all it can to avoid civilian casualties.

Still, lives have been lost on both the Israeli side and Palestinian side. To quote Israeli activist Rudy Rochman, “This is not a 0 sum game: when Israelis die, we both lose & when Palestinians die, we both lose.”

One Duke University student posted the following regarding Hamas’ military action: “Whether Hamas’s specific instances of armed resistance is [sic] effective or moral is not the point here.”

Conveniently ignoring Hamas’ “morality” when scrutinizing Israel’s is the definition of a double standard. The student went on to post that Hamas was “justified in responding with force” in response to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which is only in place to stop Hamas from targeting innocent Israeli civilians. He also failed to note that Egypt also has a blockade on Gaza.

Hamas is a designated terrorist organization by the US State Department and most major governments around the world, yet some students seem to think it is acceptable to justify Hamas’ actions at any cost.

At a 1969 press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said: “When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.” This is the core difference between the actions taken by the IDF against Hamas, and those taken against Israeli civilians by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.

To deny that the innocent deaths in Gaza are tragic would be wrong — and Israel has said this repeatedly — but Hamas instigated this violence, teaches its people to hate, and uses women and children as human shields to protect its  arsenal; what else could they expect to happen?

Terrorists launch rockets from residential neighborhoods, knowing that the IDF must retaliate and eliminate these targets to keep Israelis safe. When that happens, some civilians will die, despite Israel’s best efforts.

Even more shockingly, between one out of three and one out of four Hamas rockets mis-fire and land in Gaza, meaning that in the last few days, Hamas has effectively launched around 450 rockets at its own people. Innocent people in Gaza have actually been killed BY Hamas.

Where is the public outrage regarding Hamas’ human rights abuse of both Palestinians and Israelis? According to Northeastern University PhD student in political science and Israeli activist Yoni Michanie, “‘Proportionality’ under international law, does not demand that parties use equal capabilities in an armed conflict. Israel is not a ‘perpetrator’ for having a superior military and Hamas is not a ‘victim’ for having limited capabilities.”

Would anyone have demanded proportionality in the US wars on Al-Qaeda and ISIS?

I have been vocal on social media, calling out Hamas’ actions and some people’s galling justifications of its terrorism. I have also made it a point to call out antisemitism and misinformation that is spread on social media.

What have I gotten in return? Fellow Duke students have tried to silence me, calling me a liar. Ex-teammates have publicly called me “Zionist scum,” and random accounts have sent me messages telling me to go back to Germany so the Nazis could finish what they started. This is all hurtful speech, but I can only count myself lucky that I am not hiding in bomb shelters fearing for my life and that of my friends, family, and neighbors.

It is sickening to see that the majority of students who participate in “activism,” and who call out antisemitism only when it is convenient, will systematically post and repost information harshly criticizing Israel without knowing anything about the history of the conflict, or thinking twice about the hundreds of rockets landing on Israeli homes, cars, and schools.

These students are not pro-Palestinian — they are anti-Israel. For those failing to condemn Hamas’ actions, we hear you and we see you.

The author is a 2020-21 CAMERA on Campus Fellow at Duke University.

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