There are photos on Facebook proclaiming that “THERE IS A GENOCIDE IN SYRIA”.1 The Assad regime is, no doubt, committing mass atrocities2 for which there can be no forgiveness, and for which those responsible must be brought to justice. And it is admirable that people on the Internet are trying to raise awareness of the situation there. However, the use of the word “genocide” to describe these crimes against humanity is a dangerous inaccuracy. Continue reading There’s a genocide going on in Syria?
Last week, I Facebook-liked a news item about an acquaintance of mine, Y., giving birth. The reason this was national news in Israel is that Y. identifies himself as a male. The article respected this, using the male gender even on the verb for “gave birth”. Two other acquaintances of mine made snide comments on Facebook, culminating in “it’s like they’re trying really hard to show that it’s actually a man who gave birth”.
I can understand this sentiment quite well. Some five years ago, Y. gave me a ride in his car; his self-definition as a male was new to me at the time, and indeed I had never had to deal with this situation before. I knew that Y. wished to be seen and treated as a man, and wanted to respect that, but it took me a lot of effort to start using the male gender for him.1 I remember sitting in the passenger seat, struggling with awkward silences, and trying to figure out how to speak to him, until I finally got a male “you” out of my mouth. Continue reading On self-definition and basic decency
- It’s important to note that in Hebrew, there are two different forms of singular “you” – one for males, another for females. The same applies to other pronouns, like “your”, as well as to verbs, like “like” – so I can inflect the sentence “Do you like hamburgers” one way for addressing a male (ata ohev hamburgerim?) and another for addressing a female (at ohevet hamburgerim?), but I have no way of leaving the sentence neutral as it would be in English. [↩]
I really didn’t expect to be posting anything today, certainly not this, but it seems to be quite urgent, so here I am. Google is planning to (finally) give Google Reader an overhaul. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been looking forward to that for a long time. But what I didn’t expect is that instead of integrating gReader’s social functions with G+, they’re replacing the former with the latter. No more “people you follow” feed, no more “comments view”, no more of my little clutch of gReader buddies, formed around the mutual opinion that each of the others shares interesting stuff. These people have introduced me to some of the most interesting pieces of reading I’ve come across, many of which have ended up linked to on this blog or influencing my thinking and writing.
Here are some of the posts about the shuttering that have come up (in “people you follow”, of course):
- TechCrunch (October 20)
- Forbes (October 21)
- Here is a thing. (October 21)
- Google Reader help (October 21)
Don’t get me wrong: I like Google+, I like it when social networks get an overhaul, even when it forces me to change how I use them. I’m the guy who can’t wait to see the new Facebook newsfeed, not the guy who shakes his fist at Zuckerberg every time the interface is improved. Heck, I’ve specifically been waiting impatiently for a new gReader interface ever since I saw the Preview theme on Gmail. But moving the social features out of gReader will make me very sad.
I just watched this fascinating and slightly scary talk about what the Internet has become:
Remember Eden Abergil, the young Israeli woman who became an instant Internet meme after posting photos from her army days in which she poses with bound and blindfolded Palestinian detainees? (If not, Google her.)
Ido Kenan over at Room 404 brings us some news from the famous Facebook profile. The Itamar massacre has prompted her to re-post one of the most memorable photos from, as the album was called, “the most beautiful time in her life” and spew some fresh unreflected racist hatred into the net.
Seen on the right, we have, from top to bottom, a video of (reportedly) soldiers abusing bound detainees, with the charming caption “death to the Arabssssssss”; then the picture that made Abergil famous with the caption of, roughly, “fuck you, stinking Arabs!!!”; and finally a video of images from the murder of the Fogel family in Itamar with the caption “let’ssssss do a Holocaust for the Arabs nowwww and immediatelyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!”.
Kenan reports that when a friend half-jokingly warned Abergil this all might wind up on TV, she replied “Death to the Arabsssss!!!! Let it show up!!!”
It’s worth noting that back after her “beautiful” pictures originally surfaced, she apologized.
H/t to Itamar Sha’altiel. This post is not a direct translation of Ido Kenan’s post, but still mainly reproduces the information he posted, in English. Credit is due to him, I just thought this worth sharing in a way accessible to non Hebrew-speakers.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how, where, and with whom I share interesting links I find. I first realized that sharing mainly on Facebook doesn’t make so much sense, since things I share there only reach my relatively list of friends, and only some of them are interested in each of the different topics that interest me. I’ve also started realizing that sharing links on Google Reader (which I do a lot) has basically the same problem (except worse, since I have 40 instead of 400 followers.)
Many of the things I want to share I want to share because I want to help make them public and spread. Since I’ve started using Twitter a lot lately, I guess Twitter is a good venue for this; links reach more people and can spread through Twitter’s huge, globe-spanning network. Of course, like all things Twitter, they easily get drowned out in the never-ending feed.
Of course there’s this blog of mine right here, but it’s too much work to blog all those links. I have to explain what it is I’m posting and why, and I read more than I could do that for.
But I might set up a separate feed for links, using Tumblr or something. Would anyone reading this be interested in that? Would anyone follow it?
Any other ideas?
I sometimes write here, and often post links on Facebook, in criticism of Israel’s government or military. I know what response to expect from most fellow Israelis. Very often, like the other day (when I posted this link), discussion almost immediately includes some old friend throwing in a personal attack on me, either in lieu of an actual argument or in addition to it.
This last attack on Facebook is a true classic; to summarize the gist of my friend’s argument: “you didn’t serve in the army so you can’t judge those who do; you haven’t experienced what they have”. This stuff gets me worked up, but rarely hurts me anymore. The comments are predictable and repetitive and repetitive, and every time I post, I quietly brace myself for them. Saying something bad about the IDF is spitting on a holy cow, as far as almost all Israelis are concerned, and criticism of the government is often taken as an attack on the existence of the state.
I haven’t always been this vocal. After I moved away (2007), for over a year I avoided reading any news from Israel and, even more, avoided making any comment on the situation there. At the time it seemed nothing ever changed, and reading about it would be painful and useless.
My attitude changed in a process of reflection. I thought a lot: about why I told the IDF I didn’t want to be a soldier1 and later left, about my attitude towards Israel, and about the way I expressed that attitude on the rare occasions that I did. It became clear to me that although I left for mostly childish and wrong reasons, the small part of me that left in protest was kind of right. Things in Israel actually are changing, for the worse, and the many people I love who live there are affected by it.
At the same time, I came to appreciate what an amazing country Israel is, and what a great place to live. I really don’t blame anyone who lives there for loving it so and refusing to let go. I want to live there again as well. Unfortunately, to really enjoy it to the fullest, one has to keep their eyes and ears selectively shut, and one had best check their concern for human rights and justice at the airport. There are government-issued narratives to soothe the conscience, for those who can swallow them.
Sadly, I’m really bad at those things. Continue reading Not one to comment
- As a result, they decided that I’m mentally unfit to serve due to lack of motivation, which seems like a reasonable assessment since I would have made an awful soldier. I then volunteered for civilian service and spent a year in the reception/recovery area of a large hospital’s main operating room complex. [↩]