Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Purchases, fear, and becoming a net Pariah.

So, among the other things I've done recently, I bought a shiny new computer. With it came the worry that getting through Israeli security would become tougher, as there are all kinds of things they can get a hold of if the security agents deem it necessary to take your computer. They will take your password and they will root through your stuff. Someone I know swears the security went so far as to log into her email, reactivate her deactivated facebook account, delete the photos relating to Palestine, re-name the folders "Israel," delete all of her friends from her account, and -this is really fantastic- change her religion on her profile to 'Jewish.'

Less about security, more about bullying, hazing, and ideological manipulation?
I think so.

If that seems impossible, or an urban legend, or whatever, don't worry, I agree, it's incredibly far-fetched. But not unthinkable. Everything I've heard first hand confirms that, once basic security has been safeguarded, the Israeli security checks are more about furthering warring ideologies and criminalizing diverse things such as Islam, activism, transparent journalism, freedom of ideas, and evenhanded humanitarian concern. Check out what I found in searching for exactly what my rights are as far as travelling, my privacy, and the future of my shiny new computer: What follows is an account both of the absurdity of security culture put into high contrast and a case study exposure of what happens when the internet turns your personal experiences into a controversial propaganda showdown.

Lily Sussman's "I'm sorry, but we blew up your laptop, welcome to Israel"

This incident exploded Lily's computer, and also her blog, into 15 minutes of internet stardom. Check. Out. That. Comments. Section. It's shocking. What resulted in the surrounding posts is a fall-out of hate, dogma, cynicism, all manner of personal attacks, and of course good old fashioned trolling. Lily deleted swathes of texts over the last several years, as it was, y'know, her travel blog, but the impact's still amazing. To see casual text be suddenly blown wide open to this kind of hateful scrutiny is personally chilling. I wonder what my future holds, both in terms of my shiny new computer and my personal reputation. I wonder if it's possible to be involved in this conflict without becoming some kind of Pariah for simply pointing out that systemic violence is a mutually-owned issue, and that one side has the power structure to change that equation.

In short, there are a whole lot of rabid people attached to this issue.

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