Facebook never dreamed it could become another battleground in the war of ideas, words, and politics that surround the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When Facebook abruptly changed the country of people who live over the green-line to “Palestine” from “Israel”, Israelis were pissed off. Not wanting to be in their shoes for a second, I can understand why Facebook did a 180 so fast. I mean who wants to be in the way of a group of angry Israelis who found themselves virtually living outside of Israel, even as their government discusses keeping them out of a future Israel.
For their part, Palestinians of the West Bank are threatening to leave Facebook if this compromise reached â€” that allows Israelis living in major Israeli cities to keep their country as Israelâ€”takes place. The ever pro-Arab Reuters reports:
“Facebook users in the Israeli West Bank settlements of Maale Adumim, Beitar Illit, and Ariel can now choose between Israel and Palestine,” Barker said last week in an email to Reuters….
“We also offer Hebron in both Israel and Palestine,” Barker said… about 18 West Bank settlements were currently listed on Facebook and that many more would be added in the future, giving users the option of choosing Israel or Palestine.
This virtual war within the world of Facebook has been continuing for a while, ever since groups for and against listing Palestine and Israel popped up. Various anti-Israel groups think Israel should not be listed, and some groups want to see the label Palestine disappear too.
Palestinian users have set up their own Facebook group whose members threatened to cancel their accounts if Palestine was removed from the site. Called “If Palestine is removed from Facebook… I am closing my account,” the group has over 4,700 members. [ED: This group does exist but has 4,398 members]
“We created this group to let our voices be heard not only among Facebook’s management but all the users, and to tell everyone that Palestine is and will always be a country,” Saif Qadoumi, the group’s 20-year-old founder, told Reuters.
Those familiar with Facebook realize that these members threatening to leave can come from any place, and that 4,700 out of over 15,000,000+ users is nothing for Facebook to loose, well, uhm face, over. And since this group was created by students from Dalhousie University, it seems even further proof that no one in the West Bank is being disenfranchised Facebook-wise.
And the last bit of irony – if Hamas succeeds in capturing the West Bank, those users can kiss Facebook goodbye anyway, because it will be banned as it is in Syria, Burma, Bhutan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Iran.
ed note: Gawker calls Facebook’s solution “appeasement”