This is post is a sequel for my previous post about my experiment with Twitter channels “#GazaUnderAttack” and “#IsraelUnderAttack”. In this post I’ll describe the discussions I had with “Joe”, the only responsive and coherent real user who responded to me from the “Palestinian” (“#GazaUnderAttack”) channel.
However, my interaction with Joe started with me tweeting to a different user, who himself mentioned Joe. By virtue of replying, my tween also reached Joe. The original user hasn’t responded. My question to that user was:
“Occupation of what? Not a single Israeli in Gaza.”
This is a factually correct statement, by the way.
From now on I’ll transcript the tweets exchange between Joe and myself, dropping the less relevant portions. It is quite long, so feel free to scroll down to the conclusions if you’re not interested in the actual transcripts.
“TLA – what are you doing? Gaza is a prison; not a country. They want to be free.”
And here’s the dialog (my tweets aligned to the left, Joe’s – to the right).
“Again talking points… They’re free. Free to fire rockets, apparently. What prison?”
Somehow more people got added to the thread, but at some point it was just me and Joe.
“Sara – should the US should back an ethnic supremacism like Israel whose laws violate our constitution?“
“Can you tell us which laws are these, and what other countries’ laws violate it?” – here I was trying to see if Joe would admit that most, if not all, middle eastern countries have laws contrary to the US notion of human right. Including the Palestinians, I even brought an example to the table.
“Israel controls Palestine. Rights based on citizenship, citizenship based on race.”
“Citizenship in Israel is not based on race. I personally now [sic] Israeli citizens that are arabs” – that is true, I do.
Joe then responded with:
“over 50 laws discriminate against Israeli Arabs. But Israel has absolute control of WBGS” – WBGS is West Bank and Gaza Strip, I’m guessing. This statement is factually incorrect (all of it). I’ll elaborate more below.
“Is a democracy with a managed demographic really a democracy?“
“I asked for example, and a list of other countries. For example: [link to an article about Palestinian Authority sentencing a person to death for selling real estate to Jews].” – here I was trying to show that the facts are exactly the opposite of what Joe thinks. I got no response to this tweet.
Next thread started with this message:
“But Hamas is a symptom of 20 years of hopeless occupation. End occupation & end hamas” – Joe was responding again to “Sara” who was participant in the thread and posted this image.
“Except that… There’s no occuation! Not a single Israeli in Gaza! What else do you want?” – me again repeating what I’ve already said…
“Annex it and grant full citizenship to all its residents.” – this one shocked me, frankly, as I was confident that Joe supports Palestinian independence. In any case, this is something that will never happen.
“There are 1.7 million people that live there. Most escaped Nakba. What do U propose?“
“Joe, how about “live a normal life”? I know, strange idea. Lets shoot rockets instead.“
“Palestine existed since the Romans destroyed temple in 80 AD.”
“What temple exactly did the Romans destroy in 80 AD? Was it a Buddhist temple?” – here I was trying to see how far back after 80 AD Joe would go. Apparently not too far…
“When the Romans dealt with the zealots and destroyed Jerusalem.”
“And who were these zealots? Early Republicans? Russian Communists? Nazi troops?“
“Why do U asks this? Do U know history of Israel/Pali/Levant?” – he figured out what a mistake he had made.
“I do actually. I know the answer, I just want you to say it.” – I got no response to this, he went on changing the subject entirely. The answer, to those of you who don’t know the history of ancient Levant, is of course that the Temple was Jewish, and the Zealots were a Jewish sect.
“Why do you think Hamas shot those rockets? Out of the blue? What wax going on last 10 d?“
“Joe, why are you not answering any questions? Are you trying to preach? But do tell – why?“
“U R asking stupid stuff.what matters is what is causing the tension. That’s supremacism.” – here Joe slipped a little, but I let it go. Also, the “racism” motive start appearing here.
“I’m confused. You asked my “why” – I don’t know. I asked you “tell me” – you responded …?” – I got no more responses to this. Question left hanging unanswered.
I explained to Joe that I intend to write a post about our conversation and asks his permission to mention him. He OK’ed it, and then this exchange happened:
“your blog focus on the conflict instead of the condition and control that creates conflict.“
“My blog focuses on consumer issues. I don’t really care about the conflict as much as I want to show that the news are false.“
“I agree with thesis but you leave off the vile racism exhibited by Jewish youth. That’s a real & frightening story.” – Racism motive again. Here that tweet I mentioned at the top of the article comes handy.
“ I know. Racist are everywhere. You, for example, call Israelis “nothing more than dirt”, yet no-one shoots you for that. So?” – I’m referring directly to that tweet.
“that’s not racist. That a statement of total repulsion and rejection of this level of violence and terror on part of a state.“
“Zios [sic] use racism, antisemitism, as a shield. Its bullshit. Zionism is racism by definition. Jabotinsky was rejected.” – this is not something I understood entirely. Maybe someone could clarify this in the comments.
” Claiming “all Israelis are XXX” is racism exactly as claiming “all Palestinians are XXX”. After all – they have excuses too.“
From here a separate thread started, I’ll post it further down. Here’s the continuation of this one:
“I am not racist – be careful. Racism is the core of the problem. Don’t confuse that with frustration with Israeli govt“
“But you’re not saying “Israeli government is dirt”, you’re saying “Israelis are dirt”. See the difference? And to my question?“
“There are many peaceful Israelis. But bibi is very popular – right? And Lieberman even more a Nazi.” – I disagree with the statements. For those who need explanation – “bibi” is Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli PM. Lieberman is the Israeli Foreign Minister.
“Actually both statements are false. Bibi’s party lost 11 mandates last elections and is barely at 20 MKs, according to wiki.” – I’m relying on this page here.
“ As to Lieberman, he’s an idiot maybe, but very far from being a Nazi. I’m not sure you know what “Nazi” means. Look it up” Here’s a link for you. As to Lieberman being an idiot – that is my personal opinion based on the little I know of him, not a fact in any way.
Another thread started with me describing my plans for this post and mentioning media bias. I then said this:
“And that is true for both sides, because Palestinians keep showing charred bodies but can’t actually explain why they ask for it.” – I’m referring to the pornography of death I was talking about in my previous post.
“But the problem isn’t the bodies or conflict. Those exacerbate. Problem is the Jewish supremacist state and oppression.” – well… Remember this. We’ll see a statement to exactly the opposite from Joe very soon.
“So the Palestinians shooting rockets is just fine?“
“Seriously?? What happened before they launched? Why were they launched? Come on!!” – Notice how my question is not being answered…
“So it is OK then? Just verifying. You’re OK with indiscriminately killing civilians, as long as they’re Israelis?“
” is getting very old and transparent. Why won’t you admit the apartheid and the role it plays in creating violence?” – he refuses to answer a simple “yes/no” question. I’ll explain why in the conclusions section.
” I don’t believe it exists. You see – I answered your question. Can you answer my?” – I’m not afraid to answer a question though.
“No that’s stupid. I hate all violence. But what was that month long witch hunt and how many innocents arrested & killed? 250?” – thank you for that.
“This Israeli technique of pushing Palisade to the brink of hopelessness the yelling ‘terrorist’ when the defend themselves ++”
“No answers again… It goes both ways. When you shoot rockets at someone – aren’t you expecting a response?“
“Bibi knew who kidnapped those settler boys the day it happened and let the terror hunt go 2 weeks.” – not sure how it is related, but I’ll bite…
“So… who kidnapped those settler boys?” – I still don’t know…
“Israel in the month of July has behaved more like the Jewish KKK than a democratic state. Riots, witch hunt, teen girls txt” – wasn’t able to correlate this statement to the actual news…
“So teen girls txt makes it OK to try and kill people? How many times did you try to kill someone who wasn’t nice to you?“
“the rockets were the response. Should have ignored them. Who got hurt??” – And bingo – here we go. That’s the punch line, please remember it.
“So you’re allowed to try and kill people as long as you fail? Is that they [sic] US law as well?” – not surprisingly – got no response to this. Just to make sure everyone is on the same page – attempted murder is a crime in the US which may get you life in prison, regardless of how much damage was caused during the attempt.
“Lets separate. How many arrested – I don’t care. How many killed – Why? Where? By whom? Does it justify the rockets?“
“You don’t care? Obviously not. You seem only concerned about what happens to Jews, not what Jews do to others. That’s racist“
“No, I don’t care about arrests, because Hamas didn’t launch rockets to arrest people. Or disproportionate responses are OK?” – no response for this.
Now back to the branched out thread:
“Israelis acting as a state against a stateless, hostage community. Over 70% casualties women & children. Repulsive.” – Remember the previous tweet saying that the bodies are not the problem? Apparently, now they are.
“So you’re basing your racism on your conviction that these children and women dying? What about this: [Canadian PM blaming Hamas of using human shields] ?“
“ that report is crap. Britain, like US, has powerful pro-Israeli lobby that they fear will cost elections.” – pick and chose what to believe? Nice strategy.
“That’s from Canada actually, they have a very large Palestinian population. How about this (from Gaza) [link to a video showing Hamas officials encouraging women and children to serve as human shields] “
“ I’ll have to watch tomorrow. Google “Jewish teens tweet Arab”. Does that racism trouble you?” – still waiting for the response after he has watched it.
“I’m not posting you about racism, I’m posting you about dying women and children. Any racism troubles me, including yours.[sic]“
The next two tweets were exchanged the next day. Remember, he promised to watch the YouTube clip I posted to him and respond, so I guess this is the response:
“To me you sound like another exercise in Hasbarra – trying to put lipstick on this pig by focusing on what doesn’t matter.” – oh, that word again. Read my previous article if you don’t remember what it means.
“So trying to convince children and women to commit suicide doesn’t matter, but when they turn up dead – then it is genocide?” – to this there was no response.
At some point the posts became repetitive and I felt like we’ve made a full circle. To continue the discussion was quite pointless as it was obvious that he knows exactly what he’s doing and is doing so willingly. I’m still responding to his tweets, but I don’t feel continuing the transcripts would add to the article. Obviously his goal was not to engage in a debate but rather to overwhelm with a flood of factoids and obscured statements. He cannot be bothered with self-contradictions, factual observations or challenging opinions. That’s not what he’s on twitter for. Although he’s obviously intelligent and self-aware – he’s, after all, a drone.
I noticed the following from Joe:
1. He would not answer questions to which the answers would embarrass him. For example, he mentioned the Roman destruction of the Jewish Temple, but he refused repeatedly to say that the Temple was in fact Jewish. He mentioned the Zealots, but refused to explain who they were (a Jewish sect). This is because in his mind, Jews are invaders in Palestine, and admitting that there was a Jewish holy site there thousands of years before the Arab Palestinians ever laid claim on the land defeats his whole ideology. Yet, he does know that, so it is kind of weird to see a person ignoring facts he obviously knows just for the convenience of keeping his beliefs. Not at all uncommon among religious people, so it looks like Joe religiously believes in whatever, not knows it.
2. Once I ask a difficult question – he changes the subject. Once I pose a challenge – he treats me as a group and argues against a claim I didn’t make (straw man fallacy). For example “You seem only concerned about what happens to Jews“. Towards the end he also attributed me to “Hasbarra”, same as the automated drones I wrote about in the previous article. Probably a “talking point“.
3. Sometimes, he would ask me a question, and I’d return the same question to him. Specifically with regards to “who killed the settler boys”. I said I don’t know. He claimed he does. But when I asked him “Who…?” I got no response. According to the news reports, it was Hamas, by the way. The same organization shooting rockets at Israel. Since Joe didn’t elaborate, I can only assume that it is true, otherwise it wouldn’t be so inconvenient for him to respond.
4. I also tried to turn his own argument against him. For example, in our discussion of racism, I showed him that there’s no difference between claiming “All Israelis are XXX” and “All the Palestinians are XXX”. Yet, he claimed the latter was a valid reason to attack Israel with rockets, and the former was his own tweet. When I asked him if he thought it would be OK to shoot someone not being nice to him (for example, saying “all XXX are YYY”, where XXX is a group Joe would be a part of) – I didn’t get an answer.
5. Joe also suggested that Israel shouldn’t have responded to the rocket attacks. After all, “nobody was hurt”. Well, that’s not true, to begin with – people were hurt. There were several severely wounded, a lot of damage to property, etc. But it is true that the damage and casualties in Israel pale in comparison to those in Gaza. That is why I asked this question: “No, I don’t care about arrests, because Hamas didn’t launch rockets to arrest people. Or disproportionate responses are OK?” . Not surprisingly – I got no response.
6. Several “facts” that Joe mentioned were easily refuted. For example, there’s no racial discrimination in the Israeli citizenship law. Israelis are all equal citizens, there are 11 (out of 120) members of the Israeli parliament from Arab-dominated parties (including the Israeli Communist party, I wonder if Joe is aware of the treatment to that party in the US), and an Arab Supreme Court Justice was the one who sent the former Israeli President to jail. Another example would be claiming that the Prime Minister Netanyahu is “very popular” when his party only got 20% of the popular vote, or that the Foreign Minister Lieberman is “more than a Nazi” when Lieberman is closer to the US libertarian opinion holders than the extremely socialist Nazi.
7. Contradictions – when I mentioned the charred bodies, he claimed that “bodies are not the issue”, but very quickly we came back to the “dead women and children”, making bodies the main issue. One report about using human shields was dismissed because it was “British”, I have not gotten the response to the report in Arabic from an actual Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament.
So what are my conclusions?
1. Again – truth is of no importance. Joe ignores the truth even when he knows it, and skews it, stretches it, or just makes it up as he goes. Palestine existed since 80AD? Maybe. What was before that? Joe conveniently ignores. Joe says: “over 50 laws discriminate against Israeli Arabs. But Israel has absolute control of WBGS” – nothing in this sentence is true. Israel has no control over the Gaza Sector (had it had any – there wouldn’t be rockets, would there?), and most of the West Bank is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. As to the 50 laws – I’m aware of 50 ways to leave your lover, but I’m not aware of 50 discriminatory laws in Israel. Joe didn’t elaborate, although I did ask for specific examples (the only one he provided was false).
2. Double standards – Palestinians always get leniency, Israelis are always treated strictly. Israel is expected to ignore the rockets because “noone got hurt”, but it is perfectly fine to fire those rockets because “teen girl txts” or someone got arrested. But Joe conveniently ignores the fact that “noone got hurt” not because there was no intention to hurt, but because Israelis excel in defense technology. One would ask why the Palestinians don’t have defense technologies? After all – they do have tons of rockets. One can also wonder why should Israelis ignore Palestinian rockets, while the Palestinians should not ignore “teen girls txts”. Joe didn’t provide answers to these questions. He also refused to answer the “disproportionate response” question. Because firing rockets in response to “teen girls txts” or arrests is not really proportionate, but the Palestinians claim that the Israelis respond disproportionately to their attacks.
3. Racism – I called out Joe’s racism against Israelis, and I feel that it caused him some discomfort. He got very passionate about this, and abruptly changed the subject. Racism, or more precisely, antisemitism, explain Joe’s behavior very well: blame the Jews, for whatever happens.
4. Straw man arguments – while you can’t expect anything else from bots, people shouldn’t use the straw man arguments. This is a sign of weakness, it shows that the person is trying to make things up in order to avoid confronting with the inconvenient truth. But then again – remember #1? Truth is of no importance. It’s just the presentation, trying to shift the “blame” to the other side in order not to feel cornered.
5. Complete misuse of words. Claiming that the 200 civilian casualties are the result of an Israeli genocide is, frankly, offensive to any intelligent person. Genocide is what was going on in Bosnia, or in Rwanda, or still goes on in Syria, or what was going on in Europe in the 1940’s. You can call the massacre of Armenians by the Turkish a genocide, or the massacre of the Kurds by the Iraqis. You can even look at the American history and ask where did all the Native Americans suddenly disappear. That’s genocide. Claiming that 200 people died during a war time operation within several days – it is not genocide. It is saddening, I’d wish it hasn’t happen, and I definitely don’t want anyone dying. But choose your words. This is not genocide. If Israelis wanted to kill all Gazans – they would do that in an hour. They have the power. What they don’t have is the will – and that is exactly the opposite of what Joe, and others, are claiming. Looking at the weapons at the Israelis’ disposal – one can only wonder how come they’re so careful that only so many casualties are there. I can’t imagine a F15 dropping a bomb in a middle of San Francisco with only 15 people being hit. So they must be doing something right.
8. Blatant antisemitism – well, that’s a given. When someone claims that “Israel has no right to exist. Israeli is no better than ISIL. Both are a threat to humanity and US should fight to end them both.” – it’s hard to suspect that person of any shred of objectivity. I wonder how Joe would react to “Palestine has no right to exist” or “American is not better than ISIL”.
Support for Osama Bin Laden and 9/11 is not surprising as well…:
7. Last but not least – Exercise in logic. Why Gaza? Ask yourself – why is it that the clashes are so frequent – but only in Gaza? Why is that that the Palestinians in the West Bank don’t shoot rockets at Israel since more than ten years ago? Why is that that the Israeli “genocide” is not occurring in the West Bank, part of which is, in fact, under the Israeli military control? And why is that that Gaza is under siege – by the Egyptians? After all, Israelis are at war with Gaza, so it is reasonable for them to impose a maritime blockade. But why does Egypt block the border it has with Gaza? Maybe its not because of the Jews, but because of the people in Gaza behaving so badly that even their own “brothers” want nothing to do with them? I mentioned this point to Joe, I got no response.
So, what to do?
Nothing much. Just pay attention to the information you’re getting. Once you start cross-referencing, it becomes easy to identify the bias, filter out misinformation, and shake off the racism. You just need to be aware of it. The Arab-Israeli conflict reports are a perfect example of how much contamination we’re getting in our reports, both through the social media and through the news outlets. But it is there on almost any topic. You’ll need to learn to identify the trash and throw it away. Whatever left, no matter how inconvenient, will be the truth. Don’t be a drone.
By the way, if you think that drones only exist in these two channels, or on this specific issue – you couldn’t be further from the truth. This is just the easiest to experiment with, but I could probably pull the same thing off with a Republican conservative talking about the ACA, or a Democrat talking about the path to citizenship. Christian evangelist supporting Israel or a Berkley student brainwashed by the Palestinians. Pretty sure I could find a couple of Ukrainians and Russians exhibiting these symptoms, or any other parties of a conflict here or there. Drones are everywhere, on every topic, and you deal with them daily. I hope you’ll deal with them better after reading this article.
Your Little Advisor.
PS: It was published by CNN while I was writing this article, that Egypt was trying to broker a cease fire. Reportedly, it was Hamas to be rejecting it. Go figure.