How Israelis live intimately with the military occupation in their digital lives.
In the summer of 2014 we watched the bloody Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip unfold in real time on our social media feeds. As Israeli bombs fell, as civilian fatalities inside Gaza mounted, Palestinians live-tweeted updates from the ground, providing minute-by-minute images and accounts of the growing devastation. Many Palestinian social media users watched their international followers grow exponentially during the course of the Israeli assault. Among international anti-occupation activists and critics of the bloody operation, there was a prevailing sense of optimism, a sense that these viral jpegs of dead bodies and destroyed neighborhoods, circulating widely on social media, might make new kinds of international witnessing and accountability possible where Israel’s occupation was concerned.
A very different conversation was unfolding concurrently on Israeli social media. Here, the images of dead Palestinian bodies and destroyed neighborhoods captivating global audiences were largely missing—as they were from national television news broadcasts and popular newspapers. Indeed, the mere mention of the names of the Palestinian dead was, in the eyes of the mainstream Israeli public, tantamount to treason (a charge mounted publicly against leftists). Many Israelis used social media to support the war efforts. As bombs decimated Gazan homes, Israeli Instagram photo streams and Facebook status-updates celebrated the “righteous” victory. And many used their social media feeds to laud the mounting Palestinian death toll in very explicit terms, egging the military on.