Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever else is out there… Can it make a difference? Can it change stubborn minds and undo the years of brainwashing experienced around the world?
So many people are indoctrinated by governments all too willing to use Israel as a scapegoat for their own shortcomings and corruptions, essentially, as a way to answer the question of why life is so hard. Anti-Semitic canards have become institutionalized in certain places, through school textbooks and other means. The ever popular Mein Kampf and long debunked The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are revered, anti-Semitic cartoons are commonplace, and so-called journalists continue to push the blood libel in their articles. And the finger is often pointed at Israel, wrongfully demonized.
But there are freethinkers in the world, and they’re onto the lies. More people are discovering the truth about Jews as a people and Israel as a democratic nation. The internet is helping.
Social media is a funny thing. It’s easy to discount it as trivial, and yet with the amount of time people spend on such a seemingly insignificant endeavor and total waste of time, the truth is, its impact is hard to miss. Rather than underestimate its value, we really should be acknowledging the importance it plays in our lives.
The fact is, social media is a strong enough force to toy with people’s emotions, to drive some to suicide, to break apart friendships, even marriages, and to get people fired. But it’s not all bad. Some people form real friendships through social media, friendships which never would have been possible without that trusty ol’ internet we tend to take for granted nowadays.
It certainly wasn’t around when I grew up and- gasp!- we had to converse with the people around us. We even had to go to the library and use the card catalog to do research. At least we had libraries with a plethora of information from all sides of the argument. In many countries, the people aren’t so fortunate when certain books are banned.
But times have changed. Now we can chat with someone across the world and dispel myths about one another we had once thought true. Just imagine- not only do we get to learn about other cultures, but they also get to learn about us.
Through social media, more people raised to hate Jews and hate Israel are becoming aware of that false narrative. No, Jews are not evil. No, the Mossad is not sending squirrels to spy. Not birds, rats or dolphins either, believe it or not. And actually, Israelis do whatever they can to preserve life, even setting up field hospitals to treat enemy casualties during a war. And Israeli humanitarian efforts are put into action whenever there is a natural disaster around the globe. As for violence, Israelis simply want to live in peace.
Social media alone has been enough to get the ball rolling with people like Egyptian peace activist Ahmed Meligy, who befriended Kay Wilson, an Israeli Jew nearly killed by Palestinian terrorists. A tour guide, Wilson was on a hike with her American Christian friend, when they encountered two Arabs who stabbed the women repeatedly. Kay Wilson survived being stabbed multiple times, but sadly, her friend didn’t make it. Though Wilson could have lived the rest of her life bitter and filled with resentment, instead, she focused on the good people who helped her throughout her ordeal, including Arabs. Through social media she got to know an Arab Muslim who was searching for truth, and their friendship later went beyond the computer screen when they met in real life.
That Arab Muslim is not alone in his quest for knowledge, clean and pure knowledge, unbiased and real, not the negative and false propaganda he’d been led to believe growing up. Many prominent Muslim truth-seekers are listed in an article entitled, “A Growing Trend: Brave Muslim Zionists,” posted and reposted in many online newspapers and blogs, but it merely scratches the surface of how many Muslim supporters of Israel there really are. Are they the majority? Well let’s not exaggerate, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
Personally, (through Facebook that is), I have been coming across more and more who send me friend requests, and I accept their friendship. When the olive branch is extended, why push it away? A healthy dose of skepticism may be valid because not everyone is genuine, but there are people out there with good intentions, willing to go against the grain to stand up for what they believe in. We should embrace it, embrace them.
Social media may be the only means with which to reach the fence-riders and truth-seekers, so keep posting the facts. It really does make a difference.
D.M. Miller is the author of the interfaith “Heart” series. The product of an interfaith marriage herself, Miller’s work explores the difficult themes of religion, politics, ethnicity, culture, family, ancestry and love. See her books on Amazon.