My insides are completely twisted. I am finding myself trying to navigate friendships and the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The conflict is highly personal for me, I have lots of family who live in Israel and my mother’s family helped build the country from when it was Jewish Palestine into Israel. My grandfather and his siblings emigrated to Israel prior to World War II and were early pioneers with the Kibbutz movement. So, you can imagine that I am a proponent for the continued existence and peace for Israel. The challenge is how to interact with people that are friends for many years, but who subscribe to the Palestinian narrative.
It was easy before digital media, as you would see each other at various gatherings and so on. If you do talk about the subject, it is normally within certain boundaries or you close the discussion before it gets too heated. The challenge now is these positions/ thinkings that people guarded are now in your face with postings across Facebook, Google+, Twitter and other social media. It is hard not to react when you see the posting on your phone and computer, you see follow-up replies that are also like thorns in your side. I’m not saying that people should be restricted from expressing their thoughts/ opinions, but it is how to deal with those thoughts/ opinions when they are contrary to your own deeply held ones.
For me philosophical or political discussions, like topics related to President Obama, the Affordable Care Act and Supreme Court Rulings, do not bother me. They can be theoretical or abstract in nature. Also I am quite comfortable discussing pros and cons pertaining to my country, as I am a US citizen. The challenge comes in when family is in harms way, as has been the case for me over the last ten days with Hamas’ rocket attacks that purposely target civilian enclaves. So, the conversation is no longer theoretical. The conversation is very personal and lives that you personally know and love are at risk.
So, what do you do? Do you unfriend or unfollow them? Do you communicate this navigation challenge and hope that people think before they post? I have no good answer, but I expect there are lots of people out in cyberspace that have been navigating this specific challenge over the last month. It would be interesting to learn if Facebook is seeing a larger number of unfriending or unfollowing over this last month.
My hunch is YES.
PS: Gabriel and I chatted about this particular subject. Like myself, I feel he does not believe there will be peace for a very long time, i.e. 50-100 years, and the two state solution is not viable with the current teachings/ thinking of the Palestinian people and their leadership. Therefore, the two questions that give pause for thought with folks who buy into the Palestinian narrative are:
1. Do you believe Israel should exist?
2. What would be a valid one state solution?
The responses could be enlightening and a very valid litmus test. Shabbat Shalom!
Hi from across the pond. This is a very interesting and thoughtful post and I’ll try to pick my way through a few points. I personally never post about the I/P conflict – not because I don’t have any opinions, but I don’t have the personal connection to it that you do, and I feel I’d be more or less just adding noise to the discussion.
I have unfollowed a couple of people (one on each side oddly enough) mainly because I actually value being able to talk to them about other topics without having to engage with the fact that I was finding that their posts were just making me angry by losing sight of the experiences of whichever group they were against. We can all learn something from this famous (http://xkcd.com/386/).
I am somewhat intrigued by what you mean by “the Palestinian narrative”? Do you mean narrowly scoped to the current Israeli action in Gaza, or some kind of broader “Israel is the bad guy” type view of the conflict as a whole?
At the risk of breaking my own rule by offering opinions I’ll have a go at your questions (independent of any narratives I may subscribe to):
1. Yes absolutely. I would say I’ve moved slightly to the “right” on this question in that I used to have a pretty idealistic view that one could support Israel’s right to exist without really thinking through the consequences of what that meant when it was under attack. I’ve come to believe that supporting Israel’s right to exist has to imply support for its right to defend itself against attack. Where I think a lot of the heat in the debate comes from is what is and isn’t justifiable in that context.
2. I am very interested by the idea of a one state solution. On paper it sounds very appealing that everyone in the current territory of Israel + Gaza + West Bank can live together with some kind of shared claim of ownership and equal citizenship rights. You’d have a country with a fantastically rich Jewish and Muslim heritage (and Christian too I guess) with Jerusalem at its centre. To be valid, it would have to recognise Israel’s status as homeland of the Jewish people, whilst also protecting the rights of the Palestinian people. The paradox to me is that while it seems perfectly possible to imagine that state existing if there was an atmosphere of trust, it seems next to impossible to imagine, as you said in your comment, how to get there from where we are today. I would be very interested to hear what you think about this from the perspective.
Anyway, deep waters, and difficult topics. I hope I haven’t made things worse, and I hope there can be some kind of peace soon, even if it’s just the absence of war for now.
Best wishes to you and I hope your family and all in the region will be safe.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I greatly enjoyed the comic link. As to your intrigue about the ‘Palestinian Narrative’, I am referring to the broader ‘Israel is the Bad Guy’ PR. You can find a fairly decent analysis of such a PR video at:
Joshua Muravchik, Foreign Policy Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, was recently interviewed by the Washington Post. His responses into the nuances and patterns are quite an eye opener. You can find the article at:
Rather than no more posting at 2 am, I should stop looking at the Internet at 6 PM.
Best regards to the family and much love from Texas… Guy