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August 25, 2016 / 21 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘WhatsApp’

The Epidemic of Arab Terror and its Cure

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

When everyone began trying to understand the waves of Arab violence and terror hitting Israel, all sorts of explanations were proposed.

Personally, I’m sticking with simple bloodlust, as I’ve pointed out before.

Yes, there is the Islamic and Arab cultural baggage that fuels their fervor, but it’s always been bloodlust that sends them over the edge, moving from slogans to concrete actions.

But the other question is, what ignites this Sudden Jihad Syndrome, where repeatedly, a middle-class Arab from Jerusalem or other Israeli cities, wakes up and decides to stab a Jew or run him or her over?

I’m pointing out that the terrorists are middle-class Arabs for a reason.

The Arab scholar Bassam Tawil began looking into the family lives of these terrorists. He visited their homes and discovered that they didn’t live in poverty, they weren’t uneducated people, they weren’t jobless.

In Tawil’s words, they were “leading comfortable lives, with unlimited access to education and work.” They were from normative, middle class Arab homes.

Most were educated, popular, good-looking, had jobs, and their families are stable and financially secure members of their communities.

So what drives a normal, middle-class Arab young man or woman to suddenly wake up, take a knife out of his mother’s kitchen and get in his car to go kill Jews?

Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” has been on my mind for a while now (I don’t have a copy in front of me, someone borrowed it and didn’t return it). Gladwell talks about “epidemics” and what makes them happen – what is the impetus that “jolts” a stable situation out of equilibrium – in our case, a low level of violence, to almost daily stabbings and vehicular attacks by a particular kind of person, who might otherwise sit next to you on the bus or light rail on the way to work, or serve you in the store or restaurant you frequent.

What triggered my memory is a story Gladwell tells in his book of a suicide epidemic that hit Micronesia, also known as the Werther effect. It is a spike and cluster of suicides in a community that follow a well-publicized suicide.

Wikipedia describe it as:

The Werther effect not only predicts an increase in suicide, but the majority of the suicides will take place in the same or a similar way as the one publicized. The more similar the person in the publicized suicide is to the people exposed to the information about it, the more likely the age group or demographic is to die by suicide. The increase generally happens only in areas where the suicide story was highly publicized. Upon learning of someone else’s suicide, many people decide that action is appropriate for them as well, especially if the publicized suicide was of someone in a similar situation as them.

There’s another similar epidemic, now called the Columbine effect, where the killers idealize the original massacre, try to duplicate it, and more so, try to improve upon it to reach it’s idealized form as they imagine it.

I can’t imagine a more fitting description for what we are facing in Israel.

An Arab runs some Jews over, gets out of the car and then tries to stab the Jews, the Arab terrorist is then shot and killed, or alternatively, an Arab takes his mother’s knife, walks around, stabs a Jew, the terrorist is then shot and killed. The story gets elaborated on, that the Jews planted the knife, or the breaks failed. The video/photo/story is then posted to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Attack. Kill. Post. Watch. Repeat.

One of the proposed solutions in communities where these suicide epidemics hit, is for the local media to stop reporting the incidents, and that helps end the epidemic. Of course, in the age of social media, that’s damn near impossible, so the situation just feeds on itself, until some other factor changes, and it peters out.

Gladwell discusses three possible areas of change: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.

The Law of the Few: These are the trend-setters that first start an idea and the social connectors who get the idea out to their wider group of friends and followers.

The Stickiness Factor: This is the slogan. A contagious message connected to the act that keeps the act in mind. It could be some minor tweak to a well-worn message that suddenly gives it impact and for some reason turns it into an earworm that won’t get out of your head.

The Power of Context: This is what you see around you. People act and react based on the physical and social environmental cues around them. Our current situation fits this formula (and the previous waves fit similar formulas).

The Arabs see cool, middle-class Arabs suddenly getting up and killing a Jew using one of two easy methods, the youth gets killed, it gets posted on the internet by key social media connectors, and then widely distributed and watched – the Law of the Few.

The Arabs link the attacks to a slogan – in this wave’s case, the Jews are changing the status quo (which every time Netanyahu says that he isn’t, but uses those words, he triggers them even more). A second message has also developed which is “the Jews planted the knife” – The Stickiness Factor.

And finally, the Arab community hears repeatedly from their imams and in their mosques, on social media and at home, how the Jews are executing innocent Arabs and planting knives near their bodies, and they must defend Al Aqsa which the Jews are destroying. The returned bodies get a hero’s funerals. Other terrorists get streets and schools named after them by the PA government, and their jailed terrorists get healthy salaries. Those are the constant environmental cues around them, telling them that Arabs must take action against the Jews, and it’s OK and even heroic to do so – the Power of Context.

These three rules defining what pushes an act over the tipping point, turning it into an epidemic, can perhaps also provide clues on how to end the epidemic.

The Law of the Few: We have four “guilty parties” in this case, the people videoing the events, the people posting the videos to the “right” groups and pages, the social media platforms and the newspapers. You can’t have newspapers not report the latest terrorist attack, but perhaps they could be less gruesome about their reporting. Similarly, the popular social media platforms and video sharing platforms could be told to block and remove the videos. But alternative social-sharing platforms will just pop-up or become popular, if the current ones start restricting usage.

One could go after the people making and posting the videos, but again, it’s a widespread phenomena.

So we may be stuck with limited ability to affect this rule, but it’s worth looking into, nonetheless.

The Stickiness Factor: The message is the message. Proving it false clearly doesn’t work, and in fact even antagonizes them more, perhaps due to the cognitive dissonance it evinces.

We may be stuck with no ability to change their message, and the best move is to not even discuss it, or try to react to it – Netanyahu should not have even talked about the status quo or the Temple Mount.

The Power of Context: The environment is something we actually can change and affect.

If no terrorist bodies are returned, they can’t hold public celebrations.

If imams are inciting hatred and publicly repeating the message then isolate and arrest them.

If the messages are being transferred through social media and video sharing platforms, then identify those audiences most likely to be affected and temporarily shut down access, ranging from WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube, to internet and cellular access in specific neighborhoods and phones until things calm down.

When Israel put up the temporary wall in Jeruslaem and threatened to revoke residency rights from the terrorists and their families, that changed the environment, and caused those who understood what that meant for their lives to influence and control those family members more susceptible to the terror meme.

Israel disrupted the environment.

Israel non-violently forced the families to change the conversation. They still hate Jews, and they aren’t any less scared of dying, but the conversation now also says there’s too high a price to pay for heroically acting on the terror, and the rest of the family would suffer unacceptably.

A comparable price tag can be found for the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, which would similarly disrupt the conversational environment that provides positive context for the attacks.

We’re facing an epidemic of terror.

But now that we understand it, we have the tools to control it and keep it in check, if we’re prepared to use them.

JoeSettler

The Floating Head at the Engagement Party

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Yesterday I attended my sister’s engagement party. “How did you do this?” you ask. It’s a valid question. My family lives in Queens, NY, some 6,000 miles away from my dorm room in Jerusalem. Through the wonders of modern technology, I was able to “attend” the party in a few different ways. First, I was sent numerous pictures of all the various decorations and party treats via Whatsapp and iMessage. Then, I was “tagged” in photos by actual, physical attendees, so I was able to see who was there and what they wore. Last, my father graciously “Skyped” with me at different junctures (before the party, during and wrapping up), so I was able to interact with guests and get a feel for the vibe and the action. This is how I came to be a “floating head” being passed around my sister’s engagement party. I can only imagine what it was like in my grandfather’s time, how absurd the idea of participating in a party happening on another continent would seem. I can imagine him in his tenement house, shaving ice off a block and into a class of cola, seeing only who was in his line of vision. Here I am, 70 years later, a yelping presence in a tiny box on an iPhone screen yelling “Grandpa! I like your haircut!” Unreal.                While this was a major event for my family, for me it was even more huge. It was the “first family event I missed due to aliyah.” The first in a seemingly endless stretch of engagement parties, bridal showers, wedding and bar mitzvahs to which I will have to respond “no”, not because I’m busy, or because I’m not interested in going, but because there is this huge ocean in between myself and those I love most. While I definitely have a nice number of friends and family here in the Holy Land, I would guess that 95% of my social and familial worlds live in the US. That, my friends, is a lot of missed happy occasions. Last week I got a shower invitation for a girl whom I absolutely adore. She and I have been friends, and what’s more single friends, for ages. Her simcha truly makes me ecstatic. And yet I will have to miss her special day (and undoubtedly a fabulous party) because I chose to “live the dream.” It definitely stings.                 This isn’t to say that I regret my decision to be here, even for a second. I always knew that one of the toughest parts about living over here is that time “back home” would not freeze for me. No one would hold off getting engaged or having babies until my yearly trips back to the States. But knowing and experiencing are two very different things, I have learned. And so I will continue to be that floating head at parties, shouting “mazel tovs” and blowing kisses to the people at parties on the other side of the ocean. Until the day I can attend those parties as a hologram.

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Jordana Brown

Rouhani Needs His WhatsApp

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani must be addicted to WhatsApp, because he reportedly applied his official veto and overrode the decision to outlaw WhatsApp in Iran.

Zionist owned or not, without WhatsApp, how would Rouhani get his regular progress updates on Iran’s nuclear weapons development program?

Iran’s communications minister told Al Arabiya that until Iran has alternative to WhatsApp and other social media sites, they can’t filter them.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Iran Outlaws WhatsApp

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Iran has outlawed WhatsApp, reportedly because it is now owned by that wily, Jewish, Zionist Mark Zuckerberg, according to Benjamin Weinthal on JPost.com.

The outlawing was done by, “Iran’s Committee on Internet Crimes.”

More likely, the unsupervised freedom of expression and discussion that WhatApp brings to the average man on the street scares Iran, just like Twitter scares Turkey.

On the other hand, sometimes antisemitism is sometimes just antisemitism.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Netanyahu Signs Partnership Agreement with Jerry Brown

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an economic and research partnership agreement with California Gov. Edmund “Jerry” Brown.

The agreement will enhance cooperation between Israel and California in a variety of areas, with a focus on water conservation, alternative energy, cybersecurity, health and biotechnology, education and agricultural technology, according to a press release from Brown’s office.

The agreement also allows Israeli companies access to a variety of Californian technology research facilities, including technology incubators, research parks, federal laboratories and universities.

“Through this agreement, California and Israel will build on their respective strengths in research and technology to confront critical problems we both face, such as water scarcity, cybersecurity and climate change,” said Governor Brown in the statement.
Netanyahu said “the opportunities of our partnerships are truly limitless. They’re limited only by our imagination.” While in California, Netanyahu also met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, as well as with Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the founders of text message service WhatsApp.

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-signs-partnership-agreement-with-jerry-brown/2014/03/06/

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