‘Oh Gaza, may peace be with you’
Palestinians seems to have won the battle online
They have been enduring it for decades. But never has the atrocities, pain, or systematic massacre of innocent Palestinians made it so big on all platforms of the social media network.
Ever since Israel started its “self-defense” military campaign against Gaza, Facebook and Twitter have been flooded with pictures of dismembered innocent bodies of adults and children alike, wailing relatives, bombed houses, local and foreign doctors working round-the-clock in shoddy hospitals, and funeral prayers and mass burials.
Massive sharing of these heart-wrenching images and videos on social media has made the world aware — probably for the first time ever — of what is happening in one of the world’s most densely populated areas, Gaza. The strip is crammed with approximately 1.8 million people.
First hand ground reality reports
Facebook and Twitter have virtually become the voice of Palestinians’ sufferings in Gaza, showing the ground reality as compared to Israel-influenced foreign media that distorts news and fabricates images to their benefit.
“They didn’t have a way to show to the world what’s happening to them 20 years ago, but now they do with social media, and to shut them down like this would be very insensitive. Some of our friends here on Facebook and Twitter have families there and with the media outlets being biased, social media is their only way to plea to the world for help,” Jawad Khalil posted on Facebook.
The fast pace at which the social media carries news is astounding, as journalists and civilians alike tweet or post first hand real reports about the events taking place in Gaza every minute — much before news channels or even online news websites report after passing through the editorial protocol.
The first time Paul Mason, an economic editor on Channel 4 News, heard about the bombardment by the Israel Defense Force on the civilians in Shujaiya was via Twitter.
‘Early morning an activist on the ground I follow tweeted: ‘People running out of Shujaiya, bodies lying on ground.’”
Myriad of media reports show that in this era of technology it is not easy for the aggressors to hide their crime.
Mira Bar Hillel of The Independent in an article “Israel has discovered that it’s no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media,” published last week, wrote “…aggressors will have to live with the consequences of their acts, unable to hide behind hollow rhetoric. Because the Israelis had and have nothing with which to balance those images of bloodied, mangled little corpses in Gaza.”
She concluded her article with a resounding statement: “The Israeli army is getting more resistance online than on the ground. It’s not used to it and cannot cope.” Such is the power of social media.
Among the plethora of hashtags trending on Twitter in support of Gaza, some of the popular ones are #Freedom4Palestine #Pray4Gaza #SupportGaza #FreePalestine and #FreeGaza.
Difference between Judaism and Zionism
Through social media people have now also begun to differentiate between Zionism and Judaism.
Abu Insha said: “…Right now we have to fight Israeli terrorist. So please make aware people who don’t know the reality of Zionists and Israel (sic).”
In a video that was shared 3,500 times on Facebook, showing a New York protest where Karim Metwaly interviewed protestors, and while talking to a rabbi, Metwaly got the following response:
“…it’s our obligation (protest). We are so sad and so pained about what’s happening to an entire people, not now, not from two days, three days or three weeks, this has been going on for decades. This is not the Jewish people. This is not the voice of our people. This is an embarrassment to us all. This is an oppression, a crime, an international crime, and should stop today.”
But even in a crowd, speaking out against the atrocities of Israel cannot protect one from slander, as the rabbi experienced being called a “garbage.”
“…and when we understand what garbage is and what is not garbage we understand to put things in perspective and understand what is going on. And understand that there is a difference between Judaism and Zionism. Zionism is a political movement which doesn’t represent all Jews. Today, we can say we are pained to see atrocities on the people of Palestine and we are outraged with what is happening (in Palestine),” said the rabbi.
Protests around the world
As awareness of Palestinian genocide proliferates, people around the world — regardless of faith — have come together to stand up against Israel’s oppression of Palestinians — for the sake of humanity.
“I can’t do anything but I can at least stand up for them, and pray for them,” said a Facebook post.
Slogans, placards, chants shout out the same message — you don’t need to be a Muslim to stand for Gaza, you just need to be human. Protests till date have been held in Japan, India, New York, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia, Canada and the United States among a host of other countries. Facebook and Twitter have played an instrumental role in helping organize these protests.
Boycotting Israeli products
Politicians know that protests are a phase that will eventually fade out. Despite numerous mass appeals to top the massacre in Palestine, Israel and its allies remain unmoved.
“….the government expects us to protest, and rally and chant. Our approach needs to be revolutionized and our thinking needs to be radicalized. We must not become complacent,” said Nada Ali, a Facebook user.
Large number of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram users have created pages calling for boycott of not just Israeli products but also products of companies that support Israel. The list can be found on csmonitor.com
An article published in Al-Arabiya titled “Hitting Israel where it hurts with BDS and protests” by Yara Al-Wazir states that BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), a boycotting movement that started in 2005, is “a way of putting on-going pressure on the Israeli economy in order for it to stop committing human rights atrocities. It worked in South Africa during the apartheid and it’s going to work in Palestine too.”
She also stated that “…for years,Israeli government officials have been meeting and discussing methods of tackling the BDS movement, so much so that in 2011, Israel made it illegal to boycott Israeli goods.”
To show solidarity with the Palestinian people, Rania and her friends on Facebook unanimously decided to boycott Israeli products.
Chicago-based renowned makeup artist Saleha Abbasi also said that she will clean out her makeup stash of products that support Israel.
On an international level, practical steps to boycott or suspend trade agreements have been reportedly taken by Chile and the Maldives.
“Oh Gaza, may peace be with you…we bleed for you…we feel for you…we pray for you…we are a part of you…we ask that He be with you,” said Mufti Ismail Menk’s Facebook post.