Identity, Israel, Mishegas, Politics

QassamCount vs Body Count: The war is brought to Facebook

So right now, depending on the political affiliations of your Facebook friends, you may be seeing a status like this: QassamCount: In the past 36 hours, 33 Hamas rockets hit Israel. 1 hit near a kindergarten in Ashdod city. Donate your status:
You might also see a status like this: “In 16 days: 888 Palestinians killed in Gaza (including 284 children and 100 women) and 4080 injured”. Donate ur status:
Is it “over the line” in criticism of Israel to have your status be from the latter application? Is it insensitive to the plight of the innocent victims of Israeli military raid to list the number of rockets fired by Hamas in light of the extremely high numbers of deaths and the high number of women and children?
Does this element of Facebook seek to further educate those that utilize the online networking service? Or does it simply further single-minded agendas and actually drive wedges between people who otherwise may find commonality with which to build community?
Thoughts? Anyone chosen to use one status or the other care to chime in? Anyone who has intentionally chosen to not? Anyone who doesn’t think it doesn’t matter, in the end?

16 thoughts on “QassamCount vs Body Count: The war is brought to Facebook

  1. I vote for abstaining, as you say, “it simply further(s) single-minded agendas and actually drive wedges between people who otherwise may find commonality with which to build community.”

  2. I have consciously gone with neither. I donated my status to remind people to vote (in the US), but since I’m pretty sure my position on Israel/Gaza and the current matzav is a bit more nuanced than “hey, look! number!”, no thanks…
    I can’t say I haven’t pissed friends off in my own way by reacting to “war-porn” (you know-when they post youtube videos of shit blowing up) and asking them not to post it, since it’s polite to masturbate behind closed doors, too.

  3. i think these messages are just preaching to the choir. i think, in general, an average american jewish college student is going to have friends who share their beliefs than those who would disagree. so the zionists remind the zionists of the rocket count and the palestinian supporters remind the palestinian supporters of the body count. of course, unaffiliated friends will get caught in the crossfire (too soon?). i wonder which looks worse: “2 more qassam rockets falling in open areas in ashdod” or “8 more palestinians killed by israeli soldiers” ? i’m just saying…
    on some level it just seems like a big ego-jerk off to let everybody know who “politically aware” you are and how deeply you care about the current conflict. to me, it seems tacky and banal.

  4. what if there was one that listed both body count and qassam count? or better yet, one that advocated peace instead of who is the bigger victim?
    personally i try to make my status updates as funny and witty as possible…

  5. I didn’t plug in to the automatic status update, but I did, independently, update my status on a number of occasions to comment on the situation. I believe that what is going on in the South of Israel is bad, but I think that the situation in Gaza is orders of magnitude worse. In fact, I think the situation in Gaza was worse than the situation in the south even before the war started. I did not use the status update to prove that I’m politically aware. I did it because it hurts me to see Israel behave in this way and I will not stand by and allow it to happen without speaking out. I also believe that it is wrong to talk about the suffering on both sides as if they are equal. I accept that both sides bear some responsibility for the situation, but that does not mean that they are both suffering equally, or even that they bear the same degree of responsibility. The Palestinian civilians in Gaza are trapped like fish in a barrel. The leaflets that the Israelis drop are like a bad joke as we saw with the recent bombing of the U.N. school. People will use Facebook, like any other public channel of expression to speak to issues that they care about. I see nothing wrong with this. Having said that, I would never donate my status-I like to be able to change it at will.

  6. The tone of the article and comments seems to be an assumption that in choosing one of the other you are choosing equal sides. The reason I chose the body count status is because I don’t think this is a war on equal footing. I particularly appreciate this Al Jazeera article ( which describes what is happening in Gaza as a prison riot writ large. If you lock people into a tiny space and don’t meet their basic human needs, it is completely predictable that they will eventually react with violence. What is not understandable or predictable is retaliating to 6 deaths by killing 150 times that many.

  7. ps. And props to Eli for having expressed himself with considerably more eloquence than me. I completely agree.

  8. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that using freaking facebook status for computer-generated political messages is lame. But then again, I think that non-computer-generated political status updates are pretty lame too. We could all stand to get off our computers once in awhile.

  9. I don’t think the status updates are about convincing others that our position on the war is correct, or even about showing that we are politically aware. I think that, more than anything else, most of the discussion we are having between ourselves is devoted to convincing ourselves that the extreme opinions we hold, whether on the left or the right, are valid. I have developed this idea further at:

  10. I see both statistics regularly, and while I do think it’s important to know both that Hamas is still shooting rockets into Israel and that the IDF has now killed nearly a thousand people in Gaza, I don’t think it’s helpful to have those things as status updates. I started doing my own “Civilian count” about a week ago, but even that feels unhelpful to me, and I agree with the sentiment that it’s “preaching to the choir.” No one changes their beliefs about the Middle East based on a friend’s Facebook status. In the end, the Qassam count is starting to infuriate me, because that statistic really doesn’t help me understand anything new at all.

  11. The problem I have with both of the ‘count’ updates is that while both are true and relevant, taken in isolation both have the same implication – look what those bastards did, let’s get ’em. Neither suggests any of the context that makes this such a difficult problem to resolve. Personally, I’d love to see a status update that would put up short point/counterpoint statements and link to some external site where more info can be had. One obvious example of such a statement would be “CEASEFIRE: Today 33 Hamas rockets hit Israel and 88 Palestinians killed in Gaza: Both numbers are unacceptable. Learn why resolving this is hard.” Another could comment on both Israeli human rights abuses and attacks on Israeli civilians by suicide bombers. (I’m sure we could come up with lots more going back as far as we want in time and covering both political and social problems.)
    By putting the points against each other partisans on both sides will reject this approach as creating an unacceptable moral equivalence between the two sides. And, to some degree, they’d be right. But until both sides, and their partisans, can take responsibility for their own actions and stop writing off the bad actions to necessary realpolitik and/or collateral damage, we’ll be no closer to a real solution.

  12. The issue raised is a perfect illustration of why the internet has no sense of history.
    Little pieces of information, like status updates, which give us only numbers, do not encourage the depth of knowledge or history necessary to understand what is going on, what the historical conditions were that led to the matzav, and how to get to a better place.
    Hamas’ tactics are unacceptable, as are the number of Palestinian non combatant/civilian deaths, but where were the status updates for Darfur, Zimbabwe, New Orleans. There is a distinct double standard (on both sides of the political spectrum) when it comes to Israel and Palestinians.

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