UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Israel & Palestine: The War on a Tween’s Facebook Page

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Israel & Palestine: The War on a Tween’s Facebook Page

The Art Of Facebook

Like many twenty-first century parents, I have ongoing battles with my kids about “screen time.”  They think they don’t have enough of it; I think that if they stare any longer into a computer screen, they will start bleeding from the eyeballs.  My thirteen-year old son P. generally spends more time with computer games than he does with Facebook, but when the always simmering tensions between Israel and Palestine exploded this summer, his Facebook page became a much more interesting, and complicated place that–surprisingly–ended up teaching us a great deal.

Facebook screenshot

My son’s Facebook friends are pretty evenly split between his Manhattan friends and his Abu Dhabi friends, and they usually all post the same sorts of things: video clips from soccer games, Vines of stupid pet tricks, grimacing selfies, ridiculous quizzes.   You wouldn’t know, to look at his page, who was from which city, other than perhaps from their sports-team affiliations.

In June, P.’s US friends began to post about the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and killed. Then his Abu Dhabi friends began to post about the escalating violence in Gaza and suddenly, right there on P’s Facebook page was the knotty, terrifying, devastating sadness of the Israel-Palestine relationship.

Some of P’s New York friends are Jewish and some are not; some of his Abu Dhabi friends are Arabs, but most are not. The people who populate his page hail from almost every continent, regardless of the place they now call home. But pretty consistently, it seemed, the New York friends posted on behalf of Israel and the Abu Dhabi crew posted on behalf of Palestine.   As each wave of articles washed across his page, P would first think one thing and then another: like all of us, he wanted clarity and answers. He wanted a clear apportioning of blame and swift justice; he wanted resolution.

At thirteen, my son and his friends are none of them too far removed from the realm of childhood, where everything is clear-cut, like in comic books and fairy tales. In those worlds, there are good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains, and usually the good guys win.  It’s one of the hardest things about growing up, isn’t it, the realization that life doesn’t arrange itself into such tidy categories?

This summer is the first time that P has had to think about what it means to have a religious identity.  When we lived in New York, all he saw is that some of his Jewish got eight days of Hanukah gifts while he only got one measly day of Christmas loot. This year P tried a few days of Ramadan fasting (a sort of Ramadan lite, in that he ate breakfast at the regular time but then ate nothing until after sunset) but all he seems to have learned is that being really hungry makes food taste better.  As politics heated up on his page, however, he started to think more carefully about religion, and to consider not only the difference between religions but also their similarities.

The clashing views that appeared in P’s facebook feed led him to many conversations: why was Israel created and by whom, why did Israel have such strong US support, who drew the embattled boundaries and why, what is Hamas, who lived in Israel before it was “Israel?” The questions went on and on: how could Hamas use civilians as shields, how could Israel fire into supposedly protected spaces like schools and hospitals, and how could people kill in the name of religions supposedly dedicated to love and compassion? I found myself trying to unspool sixty years—a century—of politics and greed, from World War II backwards to 19th century English imperialism, and even further.   I showed him this article, and this one, and many more.  The more I talked, the more I realized that I was trying to explain the unexplainable: how does anyone, in any war, reach a point where violence against children gets, if not justified, then somehow discounted in the service of larger goals?

As the war ground on, P’s friends on both sides stopped posting and his Facebook page returned to its standard scroll of shark attacks and kitten pictures. But P kept scanning the newspapers, looking for the latest news about cease-fires—and the cessation of cease-fires.  He asked me recently if I thought peace might be possible.  I told him I wasn’t sure, which is a pretty grim message to give a thirteen-year old.

I don’t know when, or if, a livable resolution can be found for the conflict in Israel and Gaza—as my own explanations to my son showed me, the roots of the conflict run in tangled  webs far below the surface of the present moment.   What his Facebook page taught me, however, is that even if we ourselves aren’t in physical danger, the war between Israel and Palestine isn’t just their problem, it’s ours, as well.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Deborah Quinn in the United Arab Emirates of “Mannahattamamma.”

Photo Credit to: MKH Marketing

Mannahattamamma (UAE)

After twenty-plus years in Manhattan, Deborah Quinn and her family moved to Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates), where she spends a great deal of time driving her sons back and forth to soccer practice. She writes about travel, politics, feminism, education, and the absurdities of living in a place where temperatures regularly go above 110F.
Deborah can also be found on her blog, Mannahattamamma.

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ISRAEL: #BringBackOurBoys

ISRAEL: #BringBackOurBoys

Below is a guest post by Joanna Landau, the founder of Kinetis. I turned to her when I was struggling to write a post about 3 teenagers kidnapped in Israel by terrorists. I knew I wanted to bring attention to the situation because I have been appalled at the lack of press this situation was getting around the world. Fellow World Moms confirmed for me that in their respective countries, the news was getting close to no coverage and in many instances, no coverage at all. Yet here in Israel, no one has thought about anything else for the past 6 days. Joanna has managed to capture all my thoughts and feelings. Please share her message.

The phone rings. “Hey, Mom, it’s me”, your 16 year old son says, “I’m on my way home”. You put the phone down, and go back to whatever it is you’re doing. An hour later, you start to worry, he’s not answering his phone. Two hours later you and your husband start to panic, you call friends, relatives, start canvassing the neighborhood. Three, four, five hours later, you know something’s happened. And then you realize you’ve joined that awful statistic, something’s happened. Turns out your son hitchhiked his way home with a couple of friends, and has been kidnapped. Your worst fears have come true. And now what? What would you do to bring him back, assuming the police are doing everything they can to find him?

There’s a boy called Naftali, and he was kidnapped together with his friends Gilad and Eyal 6 days ago. Naftali called his mother, a half an hour before he got into the car.

This is not a hypothetical situation. It happened in Israel and you may have not heard of it, because it sounds like the kind of thing that can happen in a place where there’s a conflict going on.

And some may put a political twist on it, bringing in all sorts of issues that can cloud the basic, simple fact that three youngsters have been kidnapped.


In Israel it’s the only thing on our mind, as a nation fears for three kids, not soldiers, who have disappeared, apparently taken by terrorists. But it’s not a political story: for every mother, wherever you live, it’s a personal story. Because these things can happen anywhere, and children and teens have become innocent victims of the evils of this world.

In America it may be from a shooting spree at a school, in Nigeria it’s girls at a boarding school. In any country, it may be a bitter divorced parent who takes their kids without telling the ex-spouse; or it can be a sick person who preys on children. Kidnapping can be anywhere, it can happen to anyone.

Gilad, 16 years old, likes to bake and volunteers with youth his age. Apparently, when he steps into a room, his smile lights it up. Naftali plays the guitar, loves football and is an excellent student. Eyal is 19, likes to sing, and sang at his cousin’s wedding not long ago. These are kids, just like yours. They don’t represent the state, they probably never imagined they would. But everyone is turning this into a political, or diplomatic discussion. It’s not. It’s about how fragile this world is and whether you care.

#bringbackourboys what if

Imagine it was your kid who phoned 6 days ago. Imagine what you’d be feeling today, knowing he’s in the hands of merciless terrorists, or worse. I’m usually a very positive person, with an optimistic outlook on life and a constant desire to make the most of what we have. But as I look at my own three kids, who are 12, 10 and 7 and home safely with me, I wonder how Naftali, Gilad and Eyal’s parents must be feeling.

Premised on the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to raise awareness for the kidnapping of the Nigerian girls, a campaign to #BringBackOurBoys has also exploded online. But only in Israeli and Jewish circles, and hardly in traditional global media sources. Because everyone else is looking at this and just moving on.

If you’re a mother, and you understand how it feels to love your child, and if you believe that children, more than anyone, are innocent until proven guilty, you can’t and shouldn’t remain indifferent to this incident. If you have a 16 or 19 year old kid, hug them tonight, and if these words resonate with you, snap a quick selfie together and help the world #BringBackOurBoys .

#bringbackourboys selfiePhoto Credit: Maya Ben-David & Avner Seliger

This was an original guest post for World Moms Blog by Joanna Landau.

Joanna Landau is the mother of 3 as well as the Founder & Executive Director of Kinetis, a non profit social startup promoting Israel as a hub of creativity and innovation. Kinetis brings leading bloggers from around the world to Israel to experience it for themselves. In addition, Kinetis operates educational programs in Israeli schools, the Army and Universities that aim to reignite national pride.

Susie Newday (Israel)

Susie Newday is a happily-married American-born Israeli mother of five. She is an oncology nurse, blogger and avid amateur photographer. Most importantly, Susie is a happily married mother of five amazing kids from age 8-24 and soon to be a mother in law. (Which also makes her a chef, maid, tutor, chauffeur, launderer...) Susie's blog, New Day, New Lesson, is her attempt to help others and herself view the lessons life hands all of us in a positive light. She will also be the first to admit that blogging is great free therapy as well. Susie's hope for the world? Increasing kindness, tolerance and love. You can also follow her Facebook page New Day, New Lesson where she posts her unique photos with quotes as well as gift ideas.

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