In what seems to be a full-fledged online battle between opposing ideologues, social media activists on all sides of the political spectrum have engaged in a fierce, unprecedented campaign aimed at publicly exposing internet users who have voiced what they deem to be hateful, racist or inflammatory comments online.
As the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed during the IDF’s operation in the Gaza Strip continues to rise, right-wing groups have systematically tracked down Facebook and Twitter users, mostly Arab Israelis, who rejoiced in the deaths of Israeli soldiers, and demanded of employers to immediately remove such persons from their positions.
“While we all cried over the deaths of three Israeli youths [who were kidnapped and killed by terrorists in the West Bank on June 12], this was the status uploaded by an employee at the Dan Panorama Tel Aviv,” a message posted on the Facebook page of the right-wing group “Not in our School” read. The message was followed by a screenshot of several kids, identified as Arab Israelis, holding up three fingers, presumably to indicate their delight over the kidnapping. A caption above the children’s head showed a smiley face with its tongue sticking out.
“Are you, like us, unwilling to support someone who posted such things?” the group administrators asked rhetorically. “Don’t support her, there are appropriate alternatives,” they add.
Meanwhile, on the left side of the Facebook universe, several groups have begun to share posts of users who called to destroy the entire Gaza Strip and bomb Arab civilians, regardless of whether the civilians had ever taken part in the fighting against Israeli troops.
“Hello Jerusalem Municipality, there is an employee working for you who wants to commit genocide,” a post on the “Racists That Get Me Depressed” Facebook page read. Beneath the post was an image of a woman who in a Facebook status called to “kill, deport, expel, dispose, destroy, give away, eliminate, and eradicate” all Arabs in the country.
“Call me extreme and inhuman, but its about time to exterminate all the Arabs’ land,” the woman’s post concluded.
The public shaming campaign, at least for right-wing groups, seem to have succeeded to a certain degree. On Tuesday, the mayor of Lod, Yair Revivo, fired an Arab Israeli woman who served as a psychologist at the municipality, after she posted a status online celebrating the death of soldiers in the Gaza Strip.
“I know I’m the first of many public figures to respond harshly to an instance of disloyalty to the country,” Revivo said.
Celebrities who voiced a controversial opinion have been subject to severe retributions as well. After saying she was “embarrassed” to be an Israeli due to the operation in Gaza, comedian Orna Banai was fired from her position as a spokesperson for cruise ship line Mano Maritime. Banai, who later apologized for her comments, was nevertheless forced to close down her Facebook page after being publicly berated and threatened.
Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, passions have run high, and tensions first noticed on social media outlets have started to trickle down to the streets. Over the past week, demonstrations against the IDF’s offensive have regularly been met with counter protests which have often deteriorated into violent scuffles.