Welcome to the wartime TMI challenge

Is there a word for the despair one feels at no longer knowing who or what to believe?

It gets worse with every conflict: social media. A platform initially designed for sharing college memories and life milestones became a place for arresting my sense of truth.

Over the years, I’ve come to follow more and more people with worldviews and backgrounds that drastically differ from mine. I like it; it keeps me centered. It makes me feel just uncomfortable enough to keep on my toes, just insecure enough that I’m constantly sharpening my own truth.

At the beginning of this latest Gaza conflict I ditched traditional news sources, opting for scanning headlines with an occasional click, and instead followed dozens of new people on social media: Gazans, Arabs from around the world, journalists from a spectrum of news sources (mostly based in Gaza), and others. I had already been following extreme right and left wing Israeli voices for years.

Problem #1: It turns out, when you’re reading everything with a grain of salt, you end up absorbing some pretty bad-tasting discomfort.

The discomfort has turned into pain over the last weeks. And its sting gets sharper as I’ve watched a sudden rise in non-political friends fill my Facebook newsfeed with urgent, sensationalist, pleading headline after headline after headline (which I made a policy a couple weeks back to never ever click).

Problem #2: Everyone is sharing the same thing, regurgitating it to the same audience.

And people get fed their own homegrown-grade of bombastic propaganda. There seems to be no place to go to seek facts if you are following remotely. We can’t trust anyone else, so we can only continue to share our own hearsay.

Problem #3: Everything… but everything… sounds like propaganda now.

Every time I open Twitter – which is less often these days – I’m greeted with DEAD CHILDREN and antisemitic cartoons and RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF and NOWHERE TO GO and digit-heavy infographics and HUMAN SHIELDS and so on.

And no matter how much of a basis in truth and experience and fact each piece of content contains, whether you’d tag it ‘pro-Israel’ or ‘pro-Gazan’ or ‘pro-human’, the wrapping and the sharing and the repeating ends up downgrading its meaning.

A lot of talking, less listening.

I can only imagine how all this leads to misunderstandings of other realities for people not actively seeking truths outside their own.

Clearly, I asked for it. Maybe I’m listening too hard. And clearly, I live one of many many angles of truth here. So when seeking understanding of other truths, how far do I go? How sick do I make myself in the process? How morally compromised do I become? How depressed do I let it make me? The actions taken to erase my name, the actions taken in my name to save my name, the danger, the sadness, the collateral damage, the short term strategy, the long term goals…

Problem #4: Because each of our experiences is by definition one-of-a-kind, every person reading this will read it differently, to his/her own tune, to his/her own meaning.

Are we ever really hearing each other then?

All I have left to say is… if being a member of a population at war doesn’t enable me to learn anything new, to think harder, I consider myself a failed human.

Fifty-Two Frames: Inanimate.

Two clown princes after my heart. What’s a citizen abroad to do?

Until I decide how to cast my (let’s face it) totally symbolic vote, I’m going to fantasize about all the names I may write in.

Week 39: Inanimate

In-animate: Me, when posed with this question. Alternatively, the options fail to  animate, move or inspire.

Can nothing else save Kadima?

Obviously:

Faith healer wants top Kadima slot [Times of Israel]

Oren Zarif claims he secured Mofaz’s victory for him through supernatural intervention

A popular psychokinetic mystic has demanded that the newly installed head of Kadima make him his right hand man, Israel National News reported.

In a letter to MK Shaul Mofaz, Oren Zarif insisted that he be made Kadima’s number two because his supernatural powers enabled Mofaz’s victory.

In need of a little background? Meet Oren Zarif.

In three years.

In the last three years, give or take, I’ve gotten married, visited my husband’s home country located across the world, moved to the suburbs, got pregnant, completed the coursework for my Masters degree, gave birth to a son, grown three years older, three years wiser and three years happier.

What have you done in the last three years?

What has Gilad Shalit done?

Election fever, Israeli-style.

I’m sitting in my office, listening as every single person who leaves for the day calls out in the hallway: 

“Happy voting!”

“אל תשכח להצביע מחר”

“!ללכת לקלפי, להצביע ולהשפיע”

“Vote wisely!”

At lunch, I walked past a lively discussion on the strategy of voting and throughout the day have been pepper-sprayed with water cooler conversations, Tweets, Facebook statuses, and I.M. chats on the topic. 

But the way I feel right now is this: if only the politicians had discussed the elections – and more importantly, their platforms – as much as we all did today. If only their passion seemed as strong as our indecision.

On one hand, I know who I don’t want in power. On the other hand, I don’t know who I do want in power. And the Israeli election is so complex: it’s not just two parties, one rep, badda bing, done. It’s more like, 30 parties. A list of reps for each one. The top of the top three who could become prime minister. Their nondescript platforms.

To vote for a small party with a specific platform, or to vote for a prime minister with a specific personality? To vote for socio-economic rights or security issues? To ignore the religious factor? To trust again or to have blind faith?

Whereas the recent American election seemed somewhat two dimensional – or maybe even three dimensional – this Israeli election is about 2348743 dimensional (and counting). 

What happened to just voting for your leader?

A day for (small-town) democracy.

It’s a day for democracy everywhere, isn’t it?

I know what you think I mean, but actually I’m talking about the Matte Yehuda Regional Council and Tzur Hadassah local council elections held today. 

Who knew that such a little town could make such a big deal out of its leadership? Apparently Tzur Hadassah is the biggest town in the Matte Yehuda region and the constant goal is independence. All that sums up to about one thing: a whole lot of campaigning around the Tzur Hadassah block.

The elections campaigns that ran through Tzur Hadassah the past few months have been humorously intense. I’ve enjoyed all the door-to-door late-night doorbell ringing (11pm last night, folks), the personalized candies, the endless waste of printed paper, the decorative mailbox-stuffing, the half-torn outdoor posters.  We read our share of mud-slinging, inaccurate polls, biased articles. All that for an area with some thousands people. 

It was a cute, quaint, small-town elections experience. Fairly quick, all things considered. 

And now on to bigger and more complex elections… Coming to a kalpi near you on February 10th.

Israeli election coverage from YouTube and Channel 2.

Here’s something new and different: Israeli television channel ערוץ 2 and YouTube seem to have teamed up to bring us (Hebrew) coverage of the 2009 Knesset elections campaigns.

The campaigns have begun, although they’re obviously not as exciting or inspiring as the American ones this past year. Fair enough. But it is interesting that the major parties and news outlets are trying to take pages right out of the elections handbooks of the American elections culture:

  • Shas is using Twitter (and from what I’ve heard, annoyingly so) and has adopted Barack Obama’s “Yes we can” slogan.
  • Ehud Barak of the (dying) Labor party accepted an invitation to participate in an Eretz Nehederet skit last night.
  • Bibi of Likud apparently carbon copied Obama’s website style for his own website.
  • I’ve repeatedly seen plays on the phrase “Yes we can,” in headlines, blog posts and websites.
  • Eretz Nehederet is, of course, having fun with all the jokes.

Not sure where Kadima is in all this. Maybe they’re feeling the heat and thinking of a controversial right-hand (wo)man pick.

Back to the new YouTube-Channel 2 page: It’s kinda cool to see all the comments and users involved this way, via the internet. Of course, everything comes to Israel after it goes through the States first, but maybe we can hope that some of the more stupid elections aspects will not follow.

However, poor candidate choice apparently always will.