Common Sense: social media has encouraged and hurt the Palestinian cause

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Groups protest outside the White House, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2021 in Washington, as President Joe Biden welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to Washington. Photo by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/AP

On May 21, 2021, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire that put a pause on an 11-day war, which took more than 200 lives. In that short time social media exploded with support for Palestine and brought attention back to the ongoing Nakba. However, the same platforms used to elevate Palestinian voices were also used to silence their pain.

Social media has allowed for us in America to see into the lives and struggles of others around the world. Technology has been very important in reminding people that the horrors of the Nakba never truly ended and that many are still living with the consequences of modern colonization, ethnic cleansing and abuse of power today in a land where people of multiple ethnicities and religions once lived in peace together. Most importantly though, the world was able to see the ways in which Israelis are systematically stealing the homes of Palestinians who have been living there for generations. But despite Israel’s decades-long crimes, including the murder of Palestinian children, platforms like Twitter and Instagram were censoring pro-Palestinian posts. 

According to Aljazeera journalist Omar Zahzah, “This latest round of social media censorship of Palestinian posts about Sheikh Jarrah is part of a larger pattern of repression, given the long and well-documented complicity between Israel and social media companies in regulating and censoring Palestinian content and accounts.” 

He spoke on the actions taken by Big Tech companies during May: “Instagram officially attributed these latest deletions to a “global technical issue.” Twitter likewise claimed the restriction of the account of Palestinian writer Mariam Barghouti, which was subsequently reinstated following a huge social media outcry, was an “accident.” Activists and watchdog organisations have expressed doubts about such explanations, given the targeted nature of the removals and censures.”

Palestinian activists Muna and Mohammed el-Kurd’s posts were even deleted by Instagram during a social media outcry concerning the land theft dispute of their home in Sheikh Jarrah. Situations like this may not seem like a big deal to those who do not understand the power of social media, but El-Kurd’s activism during May was able to reach actor Indya Moore who assisted in uplifting Palestinian voices alongside El-Kurd with multiple Instagram lives and posts educating on the topic.

The current problem with how social media has dealt with the ongoing Israel-Palestine issue is not just the deletion of activist content, but how advocating for the pro-Palestinian cause became just another throwaway trend. Now, there are very few posts garnering attention despite homes still being stolen and families still being targeted by the Israeli government. The social media outcry seemed to only last those 11-days when Israeli families hid in bomb shelters and Palestinians tried their best not to get hit by rubber bullets. There are no more instagram lives dedicated to educating people on the fact that the issue is not about religion but plain ethnic cleansing. There are no more posts about how the United States has been the greatest contributor to increasing this foreign conflict. It has all been forgotten about because a majority of us have allowed it to be forgotten.

If we want to help Palestine we need to elevate those voices social media has tried diminishing, hold Israel accountable for its violation of human rights and remember that millions of people in and out of Palestine are still suffering today. We have to remember the pain brought about by Israel’s crimes and never let it be forgotten.

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