Social Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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    Auto-Scroll: ONOFF 
    • 00:01

      ANAT BEN-DAVID: Hello.I'm Dr. Anat Ben-David from the Sociology, Political Science,and Communication Department at the Open University of Israel.[Anat Ben David, PhD, The Open University]In this short video, I will discussthe concept of social media and the Israeli-Palestinianconflict, which I offered for the 2014 SageEncyclopedia of Social Media and Politics

    • 00:22

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: edited by Kerric Harvey.My definition of the concept is guidedby two interrelated questions.The first is, what differentiates social mediafrom other media and web platformsin the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?The second question is, what differentiatesthe Israeli-Palestinian conflict from

    • 00:44

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: other geopolitical conflict in the context of social media?In answering these questions, I'llpay particular attention to the followingaspects of social media.One, their use for strategic information on warfare.Two, their use for campaigning and mobilization.

    • 01:05

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: And three, their role in the battleover the definition and representation of contestedareas and borders.We're used to thinking about social mediaas sites where social interaction and user engagementtake place on the web.However, in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,governments and officials are prominent actors

    • 01:27

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: who have developed a top-down approach.Social media is used in order to shapeinternational public opinion, controlcoverage of mainstream media and directlytarget their adversities.This is especially apparent in periods of escalated violence.The use of social media as a strategic warfare tool

    • 01:48

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: was already at play during the Hezbollah IsraeliWar in the summer of 2006 when Hezbollahtook the advantage of real time internetpress and social media, whereas Israel was stillrelying on traditional informational tools,such as targeting Lebanese combatantsand civilians with push text messages and airborne leaflets.

    • 02:11

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: Hezbollah used social media as a tactical toolto bypass mainstream media coverageand decrease Israeli public morale.Soon thereafter, Israel establisheda national information directorateto control and unify Israeli propaganda and public relationsacross different media outlets.By the time Operation Cast Lead was launched in Gaza

    • 02:33

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: in December 2008, Israel employeda massive and concerted informational campaignthat controlled the information coming outof Gaza through a media blackout and releasingthe footage on the Israel Defense Forces spokesman's unitYouTube channel.Given the media blackout, this became the only source

    • 02:54

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: for journalists and mainstream media.The idea of YouTube channel was viewed by millions,either on social media platforms or through mainstream media.Hamas, for its part, posted footageon PalTube.com, a video sharing platform affiliatedwith the organization.Despite the media and the electricity blackout,

    • 03:16

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: citizens from Gaza managed to send tweets, videos, and imageswith mobile phones.Gradually, information started to leak from Gaza.Both Israel and Hamas have since expandedtheir informational warfare strategies,which was apparent in the ensuing wars of 2012 and 2014.

    • 03:37

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: Twitter was the dominant platformduring the 2012 war, during which both Israel and Hamasexchanged threats, misinformation,and official real time reporting of each side's successesand the other's failures.The conflict in 2014 was primarilycharacterized by viral campaigns that

    • 03:58

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: aim to shape domestic and international public opinion,as well as to demoralize the other side.For example, the idea of spokesman's new media unitproduced countless infographics thatblamed Hamas for using its citizens as human shields.Hamas posted a video clip in Hebrewthat called on Palestinians to violently resist and kill

    • 04:22

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: Zionists.Before the rise of social networking sites,such as Facebook and Twitter, the blogospherewas the main platform for online grassroots advocacy.Most Palestinians and Israeli blogsare written in English in order to appealto the international public.Since 2005, grassroots advocacy of issues

    • 04:45

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: related to the conflict have graduallymigrated to social media.The boycott divestment and sanctions movement,for example, has gained popularity worldwideand created a dense network of activiststhat use social media to mobilize supportfor Palestinian rights and against Israeli occupation.

    • 05:07

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: It is interesting to note in this contextthat social media campaigns related to the conflictare not always aimed at advocating for or against oneside, but also to mobilize dissident activitieswithin Israeli and Palestinian societies.Israeli activists have used social mediato organize demonstrations against the Israeli occupation.

    • 05:30

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: Gaza's youth breakout movement is an exampleof a social movement that startedas a Facebook group critical both of Israel and Hamas.Dissident voices have not always beenwelcomed by social media platforms, which, at times,have suspended their accounts.The long dispute over the recognition

    • 05:51

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: of Palestine as a state has also migratedto social media platforms, where usersfrom both sides of the conflict have complainedthat platforms misrepresent their country and its borders.Facebook was the first social media platformto add Palestine to its country list.Facebook's recognition of Palestine as a country

    • 06:13

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: was an outcome of fierce user activity organizedaround groups that petitioned for adding or removingPalestine from the platform's country list.In 2008, Israeli settlers also protested against Facebookfor identifying them as living in Palestine.Facebook eventually allowed settlers

    • 06:34

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: living in three large settlementsto choose either Israel or Palestine as their homecountry.Social media platforms that display geographic information,such as Google Maps and Flickr, were alsosites of continuous dispute around the placementor non-placement of the Palestinian territoriesand around misrepresentations of Israel's borders.

    • 06:58

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: In 2008, Google Maps displayed the Palestinian territoriesas a grey area.Although it isn't clear whether Google changed its policy basedon user protests, by January, 2009,the missing data appeared, and most international mediasources relied on mashups building on top of Google Maps

    • 07:18

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: to report Israeli military's operation in Gaza and Hamasrockets fired into southern Israeli cities.As with Facebook, complaints were also made by Israelisthat the localization service of Google AdWordsdid not show Israeli ads in areas over the green line,such as the Golan Heights, [INAUDIBLE]Jerusalem, and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

    • 07:42

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: Since they offered the concept for the Encyclopediaof Social Media and Politics, the conflictsaw new cycles of violence, during whichsocial media continued to play a prominent role.A new phenomenon worthy of notingare campaigns that's urge users to monitor content postedon social media platforms by the other side

    • 08:02

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: and silence them by reporting the content as violatingthe platform's community standards.If before the rise of social media,mass media was blamed by both sides for biased reporting,social media platforms are now blamed for biased decisionson whether or not to remove contentand for allowing the other side to promote violence, hatred,

    • 08:25

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: and racism.The complex ties between the policies of social mediacompanies and political processes relatedto the Israeli-Palestinian conflictare now subject to recent research.Recent research developments in the fieldinvolved computational approachesthat extract data from the platform's APIs

    • 08:45

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: to gain insights about the ties between different actorsinvolved in the conflict and the role of social mediain, for example, conflict escalation or mitigation.Social media and the Israeli-Palestinian conflictare related to brother concepts, such as internet politics,media and conflict, asymmetrical conflicts, and cyber warfare

    • 09:08

      ANAT BEN-DAVID [continued]: and terrorism.They are also grounded in the broader history and politicsof the Middle East.

Social Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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Abstract

Dr. Anat Ben-David explores ways social media have become tools in and extensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Social Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Dr. Anat Ben-David explores ways social media have become tools in and extensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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