More from RELS 348: Empire, Colonialism, and Religion

A response to Sara Fowler’s Story “Hamas and Israel step up cyber battle for hearts and minds”, BBC News, 15 July 2015

The ongoing conflict between the Israel and Palestine has long been discussed and documented. In the story reported by Sara Fowler online in BBC News, the war of these religious people has taken an extremely modern twist. Propaganda has been used for years to try and persuade justification for a group’s motives and ideals. However, with the emergence of the modern age and social media, both sides of the issue have seem to be taking their propaganda to the masses by these modernized means. Both the Israelites and the Hamas have been taking to such social media websites such as twitter and Flickr. Images from the Hamas military wings have promoted graphic images of badly injured children, updates from casualties caused by Israel airstrikes, and tweeting messages with various hashtags that include: #StopIsrael and #HumanRights. The Israelites have also been active on social media in the cyber battle. They have been posting information on how many rocket strikes they received, in which they have dubbed their real time “Rocket Counter”, and disturbing images as well. Both sides have been justifying their actions via social media, and have been actively attacking the others intent. Not only have the Israelites and the Hamas been trying to persuade their local populations of their influences, but by their manipulation of the internet, are able to attempt to sway international audiences as well, furthering their messages and justifications.
I think this news article is particularly interesting in that in highlights a more modernized concept in the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Both sides have long been defending their traditional religious claims to land, such as the rightful ownership of Jerusalem, and other holy sites, basing entitlements either from the Hebrew Bible or the Quran. The local people have long been exposed to each side’s defences and rationalizations via propaganda and other means. However, these messages can now reach a larger, international audience in a more accessible and immediate manner. One must keep in mind about the legitimacy of the information they are receiving, and be wary of exact details and facts. Sara Fowler does an excellent job of balancing both sides in regards to their social media information, and provides a plethora of examples being used from the Israel and Palestine arguments in her article. In the text by Robert Irwin, he has mentioned that the consequences of the conflict in the Middle East have reverberated into international scales, specifically in regards to the United States and Egypt. One could say this is a more modernized take to religion and imperialism during the 21st century, and although this issue has always been internationally entangled, information and propaganda is more attainable to the international masses.

One can find more information on civilians and their use of social media here: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/social-media-weapon-choice-gaza-israel-conflict-1807202428

SJP

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