This summer’s news was dominated by the conflict between Palestine and Israel. Some incredibly striking images came of the atrocities in Gaza, children without homes, burning streets, and broken families. Yet these images were of Palestinians – at the same time Israelis were taking happy, posing and care-free bomb shelter selfies.
Residents of Tel Aviv, the second most populated city in Israel, set up the Facebook group “Bomb Shelter Selfies” which now has nearly 2,000 members. While not far away, Palestinians were struggling to survive. Is a bomb-shelter selfie fun, light-hearted way to survive an air raid? Or an ignorant, obnoxious “eff you” to the dying people on the ‘other side of the war’? Sarah Eisen, the creator of a page told the newspaper Haaretz “There’s a selfie for everything so I figured why not bomb shelters?It was a way of showing the world that we weren’t letting this get to us.”
It would be silly to criticise Israelis for doing all they can to stay safe – and to keep spirits up. Yet there’s still something menacing about smiling posing faces in a warzone when at the same time thousands were dying.
This wasn’t the only example of modern technology and social media simultaneously being employed this summer. A group of 20-something Americans teaching Palestinian children in the West Bank started blogging their Tinder and Grindr conversations, mostly with Israelis. It would be nice to think these could leave to a beautiful, Romeo and Juliet story, but as Palestinder shows – that looks pretty unlikely.
Responses range from “Hey! What you doing in Ramallah this summer? Expect trying to stay alive?” to “In Ramallah there are only terrorists”. Others referred to Palestine as “The House of Whores” or said they’d “never heard of Palestine”. And of course, a lot just asked for sex.
The anonymous founders of Palestinder told the Huffington Post “The idea for the Tumblr was born out of the surprise and shock of the initial responses we had on Tinder. “Now there are two kinds of ridiculous things that we have seen. Some that are morbidly funny like those that will call us “terrorists” etc and then still ask if we want to sleep with them.”
It’s not the first time social media sites have bought problems with Tinder to the forefront. Instagram account @instagranniepants drew pictures of the men who sent her ‘objectifying’ messages on Tinder, naked, with the comment attached. This is one of dozens of examples of sexism and objectivism on dating sites – but Palestinder shows another level of problems.
Now, while a Tumblr page of Tinder and Grindr screenshots cannot extensively, or credibly reveal any kind of real evidence of the huge social issues in Israel and Palestine or anywhere else, Palestinder seemed to reveal high level of racism in the countries. This is no huge revaluation, as anyone following the news this summer would know – yet seeing it expressed in this format – one so common to so many students, and, to so much of the Western world is striking. This could be an interesting, and innovative way to see future social issues, whether it be on as huge a scale as the Israel/Palestine fight, or issues we face every day in the UK.
Featured Image by Jess Cox.