The Danger in Arguing about Israel and Hamas

Gabe Zichermann
5 min readNov 16
Image CC — Matt Hrkac

One thing that I notice a lot in the “discourse” (and if you could see my fat fingers air-quoting you’d love it) around the Israel-Hamas war is how much people seem to want to convince each other. They seem to believe that they can make a post — however poignant, funny, heartfelt, caustic, rude or otherwise — and get someone to change their mind. What I’m not 100% sure of is — who are they trying to persuade, exactly?

It seems pretty clear from polling that most people have an established opinion on the conflict. In a nutshell, Americans are pro-Israel, but with caveats. Younger people tend to be more pro-Hamas, and older more pro-Israel. Atheists and Muslims more pro-Hamas, while most Jews and conservative Christians have a strong Israel bent. None of this is hugely surprising, though extremist college students and their progressive enablers are certainly acting worse than we could have imagined.

I assume these social media warriors are trying to reach out to the last few people who make judgements based on fact. Where these mysteriously intelligent and rational people are hiding out, I haven’t a clue. Clearly, they’re not LGBTQ/women supporting Hamas, people boycotting Starbucks or pro-choice women who vote Republican. So who are they?

The dark side of me wants to say that they’re trying to convince the dangerous, simmering, white nationalist core of the west. This is a philosophical idea that both groups seem to agree upon: centrist whites in western nations are latent racists who will act violently if provoked.

Pro-Hamas folks are playing to “Jews will not replace you,” while the pro-Israel camp has a “these Muslims are radical” statement to make. I think this is embodied in the booming number of comments and posts that say “Wake Up, XXXX” — where XXXX is an historically white country like the UK or US. Each side will use it to suggest there is a dangerous threat from the other that has been lurking below the surface that the majority needs to now take action against.

Of course, this is hugely risky. If past is prologue, the majority white population of these countries really doesn’t want much to do with any of us. They’d sooner see Jews, Muslims and Socialists deported en masse than let us ruin their Sunday night football with a rally, murder…

Gabe Zichermann

Author and Public Speaker on Gamification, The 4th Industrial Revolution, the Future of Work and Failure. More about me: https://gabezichermann.com

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