On Tuesday, the Israeli online newspaper Haaretz reported an incidence of racism by an Israeli Defense Force soldier via social media. The soldier wrote “The Arabs are the cancer of this country and must be dealt with. There is nothing better than a dead Arab.” The soldier also referred to a bus crash in Jordan last week in which Palestinians died. “I’m glad Arabs were killed,” he wrote. “I”ll be happy if not one Arab remains here, and I’m sorry only 14 were killed.”
Don’t forget, it was just weeks ago that another Israeli soldier posted an Instagram photo of what appeared to be a Palestinian boy in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle. In both cases the army’s spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, sent a letter to commanders urging them to be aware of their troops’ activities on social media. The soldier who made the anti-Arab remarks was talked to by his battalion commander and deleted the post. The spokesman’s office stated “The IDF regrets the soldier’s remarks, which do not conform to the spirit and values of the IDF,” and that the soldier “deleted the remarks of his own accord.”
The posts raise questions as to whether the conflict is truly rooted in hate rather than working toward peace and whether militaries are imposing ethnocentric values on their soldiers. Once something is posted to social media, or the internet in general, theres really no taking it back. Not only are individuals accountable for what they post, but any organizations or institutions that person belongs to is somewhat accountable as well because that individual represents and is a reflection of them. With that said, is it OK for institutions to forbid their members use social media? Should militaries ban use of social media by its soldiers? Should they be able to? Or is that a violation of their rights? How about employers and their employees? As social media expands questions will continue to arise. The Arab world has gained a lot from the internets as an outlet to express ideas and opinions – but it can also, like in a case like this, increase conflict and animosity.