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June 18, 2014 9

Social Media Campaigns Glorify Kidnapping of the Three Israeli Teens

Along­side the out­pour­ing of con­cern on social media for the safe return of the three Israeli teens kid­napped last Thurs­day, includ­ing a twit­ter cam­paign with the slo­gan #bring­back­our­boys, exists a cyn­i­cal, hate­ful and dan­ger­ous cam­paign prais­ing the kid­nap­ping.

The pro-kidnapping mes­sages, being pro­moted by some Pales­tini­ans and oth­ers across the Arab and Mus­lim world, are con­veyed through pic­tures, car­toons, blog posts, memes and even songs.

The most promi­nent is the “Three Fin­gers” cam­paign, rep­re­sent­ing the three kid­napped youths. This is a vari­a­tion on the four-finger salute adopted by the Egypt­ian Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in their fight against cur­rent Pres­i­dent and for­mer gen­eral Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi, and in sup­port of ousted pres­i­dent Muham­mad Morsi. Social media images depict adults and chil­dren per­form­ing a three-finger salute in sol­i­dar­ity with the kid­nap­pers. In some pho­tos, objects, such as three bananas, are used as props to recre­ate the salute, and sim­i­lar themes have also appeared in car­toons in Arabic-language newspapers.

The other ele­ment to the pro-kidnapping cam­paign is the invo­ca­tion of for­mer Israeli sol­dier Gilad Shalit, who was held cap­tive by Hamas for five years and released in 2011 in exchange for Israel free­ing 1027 Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists. A Face­book page titled “Three Shal­its” calls on the pub­lic to share pic­tures of them­selves hold­ing up three fin­gers in sup­port of a sim­i­lar exchange of the kid­napped Israeli teens for addi­tional Pales­tini­ans in Israeli jails. Some of the cap­tions sug­gest that each kid­napped boy should be released in exchange for 1027 Pales­tini­ans, bring­ing the total num­ber to 3081.

The pro-kidnapping social media cam­paign also includes a song prais­ing the kid­nap­pers called “A Hand­ful of Shal­its.” The singer says “We’ve got you all, Shal­its,” which is fol­lowed up by a call to Pales­tini­ans in Israeli pris­ons that their release is near.

A dif­fer­ent, and no less dis­turb­ing cam­paign, also exists on the other extreme in the form of a Hebrew Face­book page call­ing for “the exe­cu­tion of one ter­ror­ist every hour until the teens are released.” The page has already gar­nered almost 20,000 likes, and con­tains selec­tive Bib­li­cal quo­ta­tions and other state­ments to sup­port vio­lent reprisals to the kid­nap­ping of the three Israeli teens.

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