There are some in the American Jewish community who are arguing that tomorrow (Tuesday July 15th, also the Fast of 17th Tammuz) should be a day for us to withdraw from social media. They argue that, with all the unhelpful public discourse about Israel in this crisis, we should take a day to withdraw from social media and not engage – even as Israel is under fire.
I agree that there is a serious problem with the social media conversation about Israel. Silence is not the answer. Our response – to distortions of the reality on the ground that serve to vilify Israel, to rote accusations that reflect no understanding of the complex issues at hand, and to vile discourse about Israel and Jews – needs to be more people engaging in responsible conversations with our friends, coworkers and others; in person and on social media.
At our Spring JCRC Council meeting and in other spaces we’ve talked together about the role all of us have as leaders in our community to act as ambassadors of the conversation about Israel; About the importance of engaging our friends, our networks, and our partners; About the importance of stepping into the difficult conversations rather than shying away from them.
The Jewish approach to addressing difficulty and questions has, throughout our history, been to engage in more discourse. The Talmud offers the idea that when making hard decisions, Sh’tikah Ke’Hoda’a, or, “Silence = Consent.” At this critical moment we cannot afford to be silent. We cannot consent to a bad, hostile conversation about Israel’s challenges. As leaders in and of the Jewish community we must all do our part. We need to make our voices heard.
What Can You Do?
- Talk to your networks. Make sure your organizations and your members are having conversations with their friends and partners about Israel.
- Do not shy away from addressing critical questions you are seeing on social media. Comment on sites and articles about the situation, offering your responsible and thoughtful insights. Send letters to editors of local papers (like the Boston Globe).
- Share articles on social media that help clarify and explain the situation. Repost materials that I and others are sharing on our social media channels. Here are a just a few that I’ve shared in recent days:
– Washington Post: The lopsided death tolls in Israel-Palestinian conflicts
– Bloomberg View: Is Hamas Trying to Get Gazans Killed?
– Thank Governor Patrick for supporting the people of Israel.
Tell Us What You Did and What You Need From Us
- Tell us who you are reaching out to and tell us about the response you are getting.
- Let us know what questions you are hearing.
- Tell us what topics you would like our help in finding resources about.
- Tell us how we can support your leadership on behalf of the Boston Jewish community at this time.
In the coming days we’ll continue to send out additional action items to you: Things to do, people to contact, events to participate in. We hope that you will continue to take action on behalf of Israel and all the values we hold dear.
A version of this post was sent to the JCRC Council this morning
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