#IsraelKills: Activists take to Twitter to protest Tamimi death

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Trending map of #IsraelKills Dec. 3, 2011 12:00pm.

Yesterday morning from 11 to noon, Jerusalem time, activists launched a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #Israelkills. The campaign, started by a small group of anonymous Palestinian activists and journalists, called on activists across the world to participate by tweeting the #IsraelKills hashtag.  The response was impressive, with over 5,000 tweets in under 24 hours.

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Twitter profiles of IDF spokesmen, on receiving end of #IsraelKills.

The tweets were directed at Barak Raz, Avital Leibovich, and Peter Lerner, all from the IDF spokesman office, and they expressed anger over the recent murder of Mustafa Tamimi, who was killed at close-range by a tear gas canister in the West Bank village Nabi Saleh. Following Tamimi’s death, Barak Raz tweeted: “What was Mustafa thinking running after a moving jeep while throwing stones? @activestills- #Nabisaleh #Fail.” The remarks by the three spokesmen were viewed as particularly callous, in the wake of Tamimi’s death and continued IDF attacks during his funeral procession.

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#IsraelKills trending scale.

Why a Twitter hashtag?

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#IsraelKills tweet search results.

On December 5, activists using the hashtag #Israelhates, ballooned the catch-phrase into an internet phenomenon, causing it to “trend” globally. Trending is when a hashtag, or searchable Twitter term, enjoys a surge in use, causing the term to appear on the Twitter website as a notable topic of discussion across Twitter users. According to Twitter, this tool is meant to “help people discover the ‘most breaking’ news stories from across the world.” This form of internet activism is one way of getting an issue attention without relying on the mainstream media to pick the story up.

The #IsraelKills hashtag was propelled by the desire to not only bring attention to the recent Tamimi murder, but also to “embarrass the Israeli Occupation Forces spokesperson, especially after the #Fail tweet, regarding Mustafa death,” according to one of the Palestinian initiators, who chose to be identified under the pseudonym “Ahmad.”

Ahmad said:

I started to consider using those terms as an appropriate response to their claims regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict… in the end of the day Israel does hate, Israel does kill—no matter how hard they try to spin the facts.

The #Israelhates hashtag became more than ephemeral internet jargon when the Jewish Agency’s head of social media Avi Mayer felt it necessary to combat the hashtag with a hashtag of his own. Mayer began tweeting on December 4 using the hashtag #IsraelLoves, which gained more tweets than #Israelhates, but did not “trend.” Some supporters of the Palestinian cause took to using both the Israelhates tag and IsraelLoves: “Israel Loves Mahmoud Abbas,” and “IsraelLoves the ‘peace process’ for masking its continued expansion and theft of land.” Through the IsraelHates/Loves saga, Twitter took on a news-making role beyond the scope of social media, and created a shock to major Jewish instutions.

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#IsraelHates hashtag.

The discourse of love and hate, and for that matter, life and death, runs amuck in Israeli and American press. Look to the GOP presidential candidates’ remarks on Israel, most have publicly announced their “love,” along with president Obama. However, activists have taken to re-framing what this “love” means on the ground. Most of the founders of the #IsraelKills hashtag have spent time in Nabi Saleh, at the same weekly demonstrations where Tamimi was killed.  As Ahmad says, “Twitter is such a free space, and everyone dared to say what he/she believes in—people Tweeted what they couldn’t say in real life!”

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Technology is going to change this conflict . That and the new Palestinian generation. Rafeef Ziadah + tech = khalaas Israel

Allison, great article. You should also credit Ali Abunimah for his promotion of the tags. I think he came up with #IsraelHates and may have been the progenitor of #israelkills. The hashtags are powerful forms of communication, a clarion call for like minded activists and objectors to participate in the global dialogue. The #LowesHatesMuslims hashtag was extremely successful in raising global awareness, and of course, Twitter suppresses such hashtags in its trending lists.

Yesterday, someone lamented that only 1,300 people had signed an on-line petition of some kind (related to Israel). WHAT PREVENTS the entire (I hope that also means LARGE) pro-Palestinian community from using email, tweet, etc. to get LARGE (or largER) groupsd to act when action is required?

Wow! we made it.
#israel kills two of my family members!

Thanks for shedding light on this trend!