This piece is one of an ongo­ing series that we are shar­ing from Israeli authors and authors in Israel.

It is crit­i­cal to under­stand his­to­ry not just through the books that will be writ­ten lat­er, but also through the first-hand tes­ti­monies and real-time account­ing of events as they occur. At Jew­ish Book Coun­cil, we under­stand the val­ue of these writ­ten tes­ti­mo­ni­als and of shar­ing these indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ences. It’s more impor­tant now than ever to give space to these voic­es and narratives. 

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil, JBI is record­ing writ­ers’ first-hand accounts, as shared with and pub­lished by JBC, to increase the acces­si­bil­i­ty of these accounts for indi­vid­u­als who are blind, have low vision or are print disabled. 

A big per­cent­age of my real-life friends and con­tacts on social media are Israeli. This means that since Octo­ber 7, my social media feeds have all been com­plete­ly filled with posts ask­ing for the kid­napped men, women, and chil­dren to be returned safe­ly and with requests for var­i­ous types of help to be giv­en to vic­tims, evac­uees, and sol­diers. There are also posts that share record­ings of Hamas’ atroc­i­ties, and oth­er posts that counter those that seek to down­play Hamas’ atrocities.

Every­one seems to under­stand that an infor­ma­tion war is play­ing out on social media in par­al­lel with the phys­i­cal war. When I go into my social media feeds, I almost don’t see any­thing pro-Pales­tin­ian or anti-Israel what­so­ev­er. Obvi­ous­ly, the social media feeds of peo­ple who iden­ti­fy with the Pales­tin­ian cause look very dif­fer­ent than mine.

After the ini­tial mas­sacre, I saw a cou­ple of posts from a Pales­tin­ian Amer­i­can LinkedIn friend. I found what he was shar­ing hard to deal with, and I wrote a pri­vate mes­sage to him explain­ing how I felt. He didn’t answer me. And that’s it, apart from a British friend on Face­book who changed his cov­er image to an Israeli flag with a swasti­ka instead of a Star of David. I also wrote him explain­ing how offen­sive that image might be to the major­i­ty of Israelis who want peace.

I com­plete­ly under­stand Israeli friends shar­ing requests of assis­tance for vic­tims, evac­uees, and sol­diers, and the posts not­ing the names of the kid­napped and ask­ing them to be returned safe­ly, but when we are post­ing infor­ma­tion that decries Hamas and their mis­in­for­ma­tion, it still isn’t clear to me exact­ly who we are talk­ing to. Is it those who con­sid­er them­selves the unde­cid­eds” who may see our posts? Is win­ning the infor­ma­tion war about who posts the most and who gets the most likes? And then – giv­en the way social media algo­rithms work – we may end up only preach­ing to the choir. I won­der how many peo­ple I know are post­ing in groups where there are oth­er peo­ple whose atti­tude is pro-Pales­tin­ian or unde­cid­ed. Per­son­al­ly, get­ting into any argu­ments on social media seems futile to me.

I think a key fac­tor influ­enc­ing how our opin­ions and social media feeds look is where we are phys­i­cal­ly locat­ed rel­a­tive to the con­flict. And when it comes to the major­i­ty of peo­ple around the world who may not be close­ly linked to either Israel or Pales­tine, I won­der how pow­er­ful the echo cham­ber effect is. The cor­re­la­tion between our opin­ions and what appears on our social media feeds may well be clos­er than we want to believe. The impli­ca­tions are huge, and so the infor­ma­tion war continues.

I wish to add that while I live close to the con­flict, I am lucky enough not to have been hurt in the attacks, nor do I know any­one per­son­al­ly who has been. I acknowl­edge that while I am won­der­ing about the war on social media, many are fight­ing for their lives.

I have nev­er before felt so affect­ed by an event that is exter­nal to me. I very much feel the pain and grief around me, though, in all hon­esty, as an immi­grant, I do not feel the pain quite as fierce­ly as many native Israelis, who, like me, are only indi­rect­ly affect­ed. Per­haps this is because when they say the words I have no oth­er land” it has a true significance.

May hope some­how emerge from the dark­ness, and while it may sound naive, may we all come to live in peace with­out ter­ror or oppression.

The views and opin­ions expressed above are those of the author, based on their obser­va­tions and experiences.

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Michael Simkin was brought up in Eng­land, stud­ied lan­guages at Bris­tol Uni­veristy, then became a wan­der­ing Jew, trav­el­ling the world. These days, by night, he is a writer — he has writ­ten a cou­ple of books of poet­ry and a nov­el — that got on some Ama­zon best sell­er lists. By day, he is a free­lance mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant, liv­ing in a moshav in Emek Hefer. He has one son and a labrador.