How has social media affected Palestinians

Schizophrenic Poet, #Palestine Origin, Political Addict; Freedom Fighter; Obsessive Blogger. Letters form words that tell stories of where I'm from. Lyricist. I blog at YasirTineh.wordpres.com

This is a continuation of my last article {Palestinian Freedom Fighting & Social Media}

I explained in my previous article how Palestinians have taken to social media in order to voice their cause and have utilized it as an outlet that has proven mighty in the fight for justice.

In this piece I look into how Palestinians have changed tactics after the infusion of social media into their resistance.

As social media grows stronger and reaches wider audience, we have seen how nearly everything is being revolutionized by it, from the revolutions of the “Arab Spring” that used social media as a form of organization outlet, to journalists and news networks using social media to gather stories and compile public opinion on various issues.

Today I ask the question of how has social media affected the user and specifically Palestinians, the dynamics of social media are always changing but one variable that is constant is that social media runs on user contribution and would fail without it.

Everything in life is a balance of positive and negative, such is the case with social media, as a spontaneous mass empowerment of Palestinian voices is emerging through social media, some Palestinians fear that it might have a negative effect on actions on the ground of the struggle.

Abbas Hamideh {a Palestinian organizer, born and raised in Puerto Rico. He is a charter member of Al-Awda, working with Al-Awda New York. He currently serves as a coordinator of Al-Awda Refugee Empowerment Committee.}

“The fighting for a free Palestine has always been the will of the people on the ground more so than social media. Social media has advanced the plight of the Palestinian people to a certain degree but we should never solely rely on social media as we all know that it could be censored or even blocked in a moment’s notice!

If a movement completely relies on social media you always run the risk of losing the movement in a moment’s notice! Social media enjoys some popularity by instantly reaching out to people around the globe real time.

The Palestinian movement is strong both on the ground and on the social networks therefore we must continue to maintain a balance in order to continue be effective. Ground work is essential to success!”

As Mr. Hamideh states social media may advance the Palestinian struggle and voice the cause in real-time but it is necessary that Palestinians do not become overwhelmed by the charm of reaching out to people and neglecting ground work.

Another point of view that has to be taken into account is briefly explained by a member of the Palestinian circle of social media activism

Doctor Tariq Shadid {Also known as Doc Jazz, a Palestinian doctor who was born in the Netherlands. He is a surgeon by profession, and has a passion for music.}

“Before we had the internet and social media, all we had was mainstream media to try and promote our cause. Just as it is today, it was extremely difficult to have the Palestinian voice heard, seen or read through corporate media because of its inherent pro-Israeli bias. When the World Wide Web came into being, this radically boosted the amount of exposure of the public to our situation. The arrival of social media made sharing this information radically easier and faster. We can safely say that these developments have taken the promotion of our cause to new and unprecedented levels, and that social media has become an incredibly important tool for our struggle for the liberation of Palestine. ”

Doctor Shadid points out the media bias experienced by the Palestinian cause and the neglect of MSM, as social media is becoming a validated news outlet, Palestinians have become the journalists reporting on their own-selves and spreading their news to the world and to all those whom care to listen.

Another important point of view is provided by Maysoon Zayid {an actress, comedian and activist,She was born in New Jersey in 1974}

“I would absolutely say the introduction of social media has changed the way I approach the subject of Palestine. It’s really a double-edged pen. What I love about it is the fact that it has made it much easier for my friends and fans in America to understand what’s happening when I can tweet an image, a video, a link. I remember during the Gaza Christmas massacre of hundreds of children feeling utterly helpless because Israel refused to allow journalists to enter Gaza. Now there’s 500,000 little journalists tweeting live everything Israel wants to hide. However, this is all the personification of Big Brother watching, so I don’t really have the freedom to say anything I want because as an American citizen traveling to Palestine, I must cross Israeli borders. And I know people who were banned from entering for life for one tweet. It has made me much more aware.

Gay Girl in Damascus kind of ruined everything for everyone. There is definitely a place for anonymity in social media when the author’s life is genuinely at risk, but I’ve seen anonymity/ “sock puppets” used to discredit the Palestinian movement. Suddenly everyone and their mother is an expert on Palestine, even if they’ve never been there. I’ve got Florence of Arabia from Ohio telling me how I, as a Palestinian, should resist. And kids these days believe everything they read, even if they don’t know who’s saying it or who’s paying them. I’m thrilled that social media has made it so much easier to relay the reality of segregation in Palestine but I’m saddened that it’s made spies’ jobs a piece of cake.”

Israel has also utilized social media to spread falsified information commonly referred to by Palestinian as “Hashbara”, Israeli authorities have also reached out to social media as a form of monitoring activists as Mrs.Zayid states.

Palestinian/Israeli Debate

Palestinians have grouped and gathered online, changing the dynamics of social media as-well as changing themselves by adapting to new terminology to keep “political correctness” as it is becoming vital in this day and age for credibility and acceptability by the common public.

The Palestinian/Israeli debate is often unjustly stereotyped as being hate fueled and blinded by bias on both sides of the debate, the reality is that before the infusion of social media into the debate this stereotype would have been easier to believe as the opportunity for the average Palestinian to express his voice and make it heard was unavailable, after the social media eruption on the internet, Palestinians solidified their role and status within the online community by embracing platforms such as twitter and blogging websites in-order to debate and explain where they stand in-terms of solutions provided for peace.

Palestinians have changed the way they address issues regarding Palestine, instead of just watching the news and waiting on governments to act in their place, they have voiced their disapproval of initiatives put forth by the Israeli and Palestinian government, collectively refusing the two-state solution and explaining their support for the one-state solution, today with the help of social media you can talk to Palestinians in Gaza, Westbank, Tel Aviv, Diaspora, around all corners of Palestine and or outside of Palestine and ask them what they wish to accomplish for Palestine.

You see Palestinians and Israelis debating online and influencing each-others opinions without hate filled speech that many wish to allude to in-order to imply that peace is impossible, while I don’t deny the existence of fanatics on both sides that do not engage in debate but rather shell out curse words and death threats, we can’t deny the opportunity for the eloquently spoken and articulated majority to be stifled by the existence of such people.

As social media blossoms it seems to be on the road to becoming the Palestinian voice instead of news networks and governments, possibly redefining what may become the next generation of governments, moderated online by the public opinion that begs so strongly to be heard and inevitably changing the dynamics on the ground.

Everything Palestinians have experienced has taught them lessons and such is the case with social media, while some may argue that social media is also a battle ground of conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, I wish to look at it as a platform of debate and so do many else, we must recognize that even in debates you have a winning side and a losing side, the biggest battle/debate right now that faces Palestine is the One-State VS Two-State, if you wish to learn the public opinion go online and find out for yourself.

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