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By Liran Kapoano
I’m sitting here, staring at my computer screen in disbelief. I can’t help but think…
Something big is happening.
Four nights ago, I was also sitting at my computer, bored and annoyed about the Scarlett Johansson / SodaStream / BDS fiasco, when I decided to check out what kind of social media discussion was happening on the topic. Much to my surprise, there was no Facebook Page in support of Scarlett’s decision.
So I created one.
After consulting with some of my old Israel crew buddies from my days as a student activist at Rutgers Hillel I decided it would be interesting to see what would happen if we tried to get 10,000 likes before SodaStream’s Super Bowl ad. We would do this with no advertising, no money and nothing beyond a commitment to invite all of our friends to click “Like Page” and request that they do the same.
I was joking when I said that… I thought if we reached 1,000 likes in four days, it would be amazing. I would not even say I’m such a big “fan” of Scarlett Johansson. I think she’s a fine actress and all and I absolutely admire her for her stance on this matter, but I don’t read People magazine or watch the E! channel. When I created the page I even misspelled her last name!
I’m not laughing anymore. As of this posting, we have managed to garner nearly 15,000 likes in just 110 hours, exceeding my ridiculous goal and nearly eclipsing the TOTAL number of likes that the ENTIRE BDS campaign has managed to garner in nearly FOUR YEARS.
Something is big is happening.
Within hours we had 200 Likes and it was too late to fix the the typo in the title of the page due to Facebook’s byzantine policies. By Thursday morning the page had taken on a life of its own – I no longer knew even 20% of the participants. We broke the 5,000 Like mark on Friday afternoon and rocketed past 10,000 early Sunday morning.
How did this happen? Why is this happening?
To start, Scarlett Johansson is a very sympathetic person. She is attractive, successful and a global, A-list actress. The amount of pressure that was dumped on her by the angry, screaming, frothing-at-the-mouth BDS crowd is outrageous. The fact that OxFam decided to chastise her was obnoxious.
The logic of people who call themselves “pro-Palestinian” attacking someone for agreeing to represent a company that employs Palestinians is ridiculous. This is bullying at its nastiest. And it serves to shine a light on how hateful, counterproductive – and frankly ILLOGICAL – the entire BDS enterprise really is.
But I think there’s more to it than that.
I think there has been an undercurrent of frustration in our society bubbling under the surface with the current state of public discourse. For years now, the Jewish Federation, Hillel and other Jewish organizations have been combating the BDS movement, but I think there is something else going on here as well.
I think people are just fed up.
People are fed up with every debate in America degenerating into screaming matches between factions who aren’t really all that different to begin with. They are fed up with with internet message board forums, YouTube comments, posts on CNN articles and social media. It’s all just so angry and ugly.
And it’s even worse for people who like Israel. How many times do I need to see “die Israel!” or “go home Jews!” comments on innocent Hebrew music videos on YouTube? Or see false depictions comparing Israel to Nazi Germany during ludicrous “apartheid weeks” on my old college campus? Or hear about how Jews are “invaders” as if our heritage was invented? How many times do I need hear insinuations about Jewish banks or Israeli lobbies controlling Congress or being secret cabals responsible for 9/11? Enough already with this nonsense!
But when Reza Aslan compares Scarlett Johansson and SodaStream to Adolf Hitler? When internet commenters start saying they want to boil her in oil? That is a bridge too far for any person, not just Israel advocates. It brings this horrendous lack of civility into the mainstream.
And so people react. The average, everyday individual who has been quietly fed up with this uncivil discourse is finally spurned to action.
Maybe this is finally the turning point. Maybe this is the beginning of something really big, when as a society we stand up to these bullies and declare that we reject this behavior.
I have no idea how many likes we will end up with. 100,000? 1,000,000? Who knows. When I started this page, I certainly wasn’t looking to start a movement…
But now that I’m in it, I will see it through to wherever it takes me. I hope you will as well.
This post originally appeared on the Times of Israel.
And if you’d like to support our continuing efforts to fight back against the BDS bullies and other hate groups the BINTA initiative now accepts PayPal!
We encourage open, civil debate and want to hear from you in the comments below. While there are many conflicts and many reasons to disagree, no matter what the question is, bullying is not the answer.