It was right after Real Time with Bill Maher had aired on HBO. As usual, Mediaite had the clips up almost immediately, as they do every Friday. Here’s the link.
The first people I encountered were two French-Canadian separatist. They were determined to educate me on Zionism. We went back and forth for 3 hours. Names were called, they even spoke in French (which I understood, which seemed to surprise them). Emotions subsided, and the exchanges became more logical and rational. The next morning, after the Canucks and I had parted ways, an academic Aussie hopped on the same thread, using big words and asking me hypotheticals and being very polite. All in all, the thread ended on a peaceful, respectful note. One of the Canadians even sent me a friend request.
All, while preparing for our daughters birthday party on Saturday afternoon, so I was juggling the debate and 6 other things.
Saturday and early Sunday it changed. The discussions were nothing but graphic pictures from Gaza, which some were later traced back to Syria. It was a pattern: show horrific photos, call people child killers, and then post random pictures of “glorious” protest. Like protest in Paris, which ended with cars being set on fire. I’m no expert, but it seemed coordinated. All except, privileged American progressives, they wished Hitler was alive to exterminate all the “child killers” who supported Israel’s right to defend itself. Seen below. And then bragged about the attention their stupidity garnered them, like in this tweet.
It all was pretty bearable, almost expected. Certainly not accepted, but it seemed logical that a digital protest, what I learned is dubbed the Digital Intifada, would occur.
What really got me was when I posed a simple question to a local St. Louis LBGT group protesting Gaza. They had this sign, seen below, at a protest, also available to be seen on STLPSC’s twitter account.
When I pointed out that most Muslim countries and communities wouldn’t support their life style choice, I was immediately labeled as “peddling islamiphobia”. When I asked if they could hold up that sign in other Muslim countries, and I named several, all I got was silence.
No apology was offered, no exchange to understand our mutual perspectives–just a definite label of me and silence. My descent was not welcomed or even acknowledged. In retrospect, I don’t know what else I expected from “academic elites”. I guess what’s really bothersome is, that these folks at STLPSC are supposedly the open minded part of our states academic power structure.
All in all, my experience with the Digital Intifada was memorable, but failed to change my views on Hamas, in any way what so ever. The only thing they accomplished was to seem bigoted and hateful themselves.
I’d say, it was a wasted weekend…