Why hashtag diplomacy can help #BringBackOurBoys


GIVAT SHMUEL, Israel June 17, 2014 ­— Any regular reader to this column knows that this writer is far too cynical to believe that anything as silly as a re-appropriated pound sign could bring about real change. However, following the inspiring and overwhelming response to the horrific kidnapping of three innocent Israeli boys, the sheer power of the #BringBackOurBoys campaign cannot be denied. If anything, the movement needs to be promoted further and louder than ever before.

After reading this opening paragraph, many will voice such objections as “social media isn’t for serious matters,” or “everyone who would see my posts already knows what I know.” These sentiments are extremely sensible. They are also extremely wrong.

One of the greatest reasons that hashtag diplomacy is effective is due to the fact that the most successful movements are based on emotion far more than on reporting, and nothing conveys emotion better than sound and image. Social media is the world’s largest and most efficient marketplace for impactful text, sound and images we have in this universe. Snippets from the radio or a news program can arouse fleeting moments of outrage. Choosing to listen to the heart-wrenching pleas of 16 year old Naftali Frenkel’s mother to help her hug her son again is a far stronger impetus for action.


A viral dissemination of the haunting images of Palestinian children holding up three fingers in celebration of the abduction innocent Jewish teens is definitely the most effective way to expose the backwards and animalistic nature of the Palestinian education system and their incomprehensibly warped sense of right and wrong.


Additionally, with news cycles endlessly turning over, as they inevitably do in the media-oversaturated society that we live in, the persistent outcry by people who refuse to let Eyal, Naftali and Gilad be drowned out by the other noise will keep them right where they belong; on the front-burner of the public’s conscience every second of every day. If these were your kids, brothers, nephews or friends would you ever forgive yourself for letting the world forget that they are out there in the hands of the world’s most evil and contemptible creatures?

Another sad reality that makes hashtag diplomacy so important is that the majority of us are not world leaders, and even more worryingly, our world leaders are acting as if they are not as well. It has been more than five days since the boys have been taken and Barack Obama has yet to issue a statement in support of the rescue efforts. Tweets from “The White House” Twitter account and blasé talking points from John Kerry do not carry the same weight as a direct decree (something POTUS is apparently quite adept at) from the President of the United States.

In this case, human beings in general, and American Jewry inspecific, who support the State of Israel as well as the universal rights of a child to come home from school without being kidnapped, have a golden opportunity that they are thus far squandering.

It is very nice that you found a cat that can play the piano. It makes us smile when we read your three-paragraph long “thank you for raising me to be such a great person (with all the humility in the world of course)” to your father on Father’s Day. It is nice and even heartwarming to see hundreds of young Jewish boys express their sympathies for the passing of baseball legend Tony Gwynn. However, with a Commander in Chief who does nothing unless it wins him popularity points, how can you not take to the internet to pressure him into helping Israel bring these boys home to their families? What purpose does the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) serve if not to exert pressure on a President who is instinctively hostile to the Jewish State to do what he can to help save these innocent children? What excuse does any self-prescribed ‘affiliated’ Jew have to abandon any and every attempt to make even the smallest amount of headway in rescuing their embattled brethren? Why would any Jew choose to follow in the footsteps of Cain (“am I my brother’s keeper?”) when he can follow in the footsteps of the righteous Joseph (“It is my brothers whom I seek”)?

Keeping the story of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali relevant for the general public, as well as for our elected leadership is the only effective way (in addition to prayer and other forms of turning to G-d) that we can actively help bring these boys home, and in today’s world it is as easy as clicking on a “Post”, “Share” or “Like” button.

How can we, as a society, live with ourselves, if we later find that we had such a powerful tool at our disposal to save the lives of the innocent and we instead squandered it away on selfies and nonsense?

If you have a moment, please post or share anything you can to help raise awareness for #EyalGiladNaftali and do your small part to help #BringBackOurBoys.

Not all of us can be soldiers, yet we have all been handed a great weapon to aid in the rescue of these abducted boys. We must do everything we can to live up to this tremendously vital responsibility.

May G-d watch over these innocent children and may G-d bless each and every person who has taken up the fight to bring them home, be it with a gun, a pen or a hashtag.

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