By Ittay Flescher
The recent conflict between the IDF and Hamas, and the wave of violence between Jews and Arabs within Israel, have triggered tremendously polarizing and volatile discourse on social media.
Are you struggling to make sense of the deluge of information, Instagram infographics, and the multiplicity of opinions on the conflict? Do you want to know how to educate yourself so that you can sort out real from fake news?
Based on my experience as a journalist and Israel Educator for over 20 years, these are my tips for navigating social media on the conflict:
- There is no single news site, tweet, Instagram graphic, or article that will provide a fair and balanced perspective on everything you need to know. If you’re keen to understand the whole story, you’re going to need to invest more time reading news sites written by actual journalists that are fact-checked and cite sources rather than scrolling through TikTok and Facebook for hot takes.
- It’s important to maintain a varied media diet so that you’re exposed to diverse viewpoints rather than getting caught up in echo chambers. These are the English-language Israeli news sites I read regularly that give me multiple perspectives on what’s going on today. Their news is largely accurate and fact-checked, with photos and quotes to back up their stories. This is sometimes not the case for their opinion pieces and blogs.
- +972mag (Far Left): www.972mag.com
- Ha’aretz (Left): www.haaretz.com
- Times of Israel (Centre): www.timesofisrael.com
- JPost (Right): www.jpost.com
- Arutz 7 (Far Right): www.israelnationalnews.com
- For Arab and Palestinian perspectives on what’s happening in Gaza and the West Bank, I recommend:
- Al Jazeera Middle East (has many reporters on the ground in Gaza): www.aljazeera.com/middle-east/
- Al-Monitor (offers a diverse range of voices with interesting grassroots stories often not covered on other sites): www.al-monitor.com
- Wafa News Agency (provides a secular nationalist Palestinian viewpoint): www.english.wafa.ps
- With all the news sites above, don’t consider anything true until you see it on at least three news sites, and it contains a photo or video.
Credit for image: The Huffington Post
- The conflict didn’t start now, and any news story that begins with today’s news will be missing a great deal of important context on how we got to this situation. This often angers readers who want news stories to give more historical context in both headlines and articles explaining the causes of violence today in light of previous injustice done to the group committing the violence or defending itself. For this, you need to read books and listen to podcasts. These are my recommendations for audio: https://makomisrael.org/essential-podcasts-about-israel/
- When asked which books I recommend to understand Palestinian and Israeli narratives from 1948 to today, these are the two I often suggest:
- Where the Line is Drawn is about an encounter Raja Shehadeh had in 1977 when accompanied his father to a hotel in Tel Aviv, where they watched Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s televised speech to the Knesset offering peace with Israel. At the hotel, he met a young Jewish Canadian immigrant to Israel named Henry Abramovitch; the long friendship between the two is at the heart of the book. While offering an unforgettably poignant exploration of Palestinian-Israeli relationships, Where the Line Is Drawn also provides an anatomy of friendship and an exploration of whether, in the bleakest of circumstances, it is possible for bonds to transcend political divisions.
- Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, is a series of 10 letters about Israel, Zionism, and Jewish identity, written to any Palestinian living in the village across from the home of Yossi Klein Halevi in the French Hill neighborhood at the edge of Jerusalem, separated by the security wall dividing our two hills.
Both books centre around dialogue between real and imagined friends and enemies, in the hope that the stories featured within us can bring us closer to the goal of understanding and peace that we desire.
Ittay Flescher has been working in formal and informal Jewish education for the past 20 years. Since making Aliyah from Australia in 2018, he has been working as the Jerusalem Correspondent for Plus61J Media, teaching on various gap year programs and trying to make sense of his new home through daily posts that evoke fascinating conversations on Facebook.