Social media as the “perfect” stage for Israeli war-making

My UK/US publisher, Verso, has published an extract of my book, The Palestine Laboratory, on how Israel uses social media to maximise war as spectacle.

Here’s an extract:

The November 2012 Israeli bombardment of Gaza, called Operation Pillar of Defense, was a seven-day war that killed 174 Palestinians and 6 Israelis and injured thousands more. While the death toll in that operation was relatively low, Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and early 2009 saw the death of 1,400 Gazans. That conflict saw a revolution in how the IDF portrayed the war across its multiple social media platforms. Worried that public opinion in some Western nations was turning against Israeli military actions, the so-called instawar was a coordinated enterprise to live-tweet military operations and infographics, produced to proudly announce the killing of Hamas members or the arrest of Palestinian “terrorists.” These productions sometimes had the feel of a Hollywood-style, big-budget action film.

The Israeli social media strategy aimed to involve both domestic and global supporters of its military missions. By doing so, and asking backers to post their own supporting tweets, Facebook posts, or Instagram images, the IDF created a collective mission that other nations could easily mimic by stirring up nationalist fervor online. During Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF encouraged supporters of Israel to both proudly share when “terrorists” were killed while at the same time reminding a global audience that the Jewish state was a victim. It was a form of mass conscription to the cause through the weaponization of social media.

Read the whole thing: Social media is a warzone: the IDF’s strategy for war as online specta – Verso

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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