Josh Kaplan

The All Eyes on Rafah Instagram post is another vapid, lazy way to say “I care”

It says nothing productive. Which is presumably why so many people have shared it.


The All Eyes on Rafah graphic

May 29, 2024 11:25

You’re tapping through Instagram stories. You see your friend is in Japan, you see a clothing brand you like has a sale on shorts, you see a smug earnest post about a war 3000 miles away, you see a celebrity wearing a see-through dress on the red carpet. None of these images will make a lasting impact. They are just the day to day detritus of the internet, things that take a second to share and zero knowledge to promote. You close Instagram and open Twitter.

It takes less than a second to share a viral post on Instagram, as millions of people have done in 24 hours. The “All Eyes on Rafah” post which has been shared by over 40 million people on Instagram since Israel’s strike on Sunday, is one in the long canon of feel good posts that achieve very little but make the sharer feel, even just for a second, like they’re doing something to help. But the very idea of raising awareness for the world’s most opined about and reported conflict, that has received nonstop, breathless coverage for the best part of a year, falls apart on even the mildest examination.

I understand that there is outrage at the way Israel is conducting its war. The images coming out of Gaza often feel indefensible. As those of us who care about Israel know only too well, every mistake Israel makes puts more lives at risk both in Israel and outside. Every Jew feels the anger of the world towards Israel every day. We don’t need to be reminded to follow this war; we have no choice. That is not to say that well-meaning people from the safety of London or Berlin or wherever else can’t voice their anger. If they feel passionately, they should. That’s what makes the West different from places like Gaza under Hamas, for example.

But what does sharing an AI image that looks nothing like Gaza actually do? Does it improve the material conditions of civilians in Gaza? Does it make Israelis and Jews feel more likely to compromise, to accept a version of the future that ends in peace for both sides? No, it doesn’t. Just like the BLM squares before it, and the myriad “explainers” before that, the All Eyes on Rafah post is another vapid, lazy way to say “I care”, not “I care about bringing the conflict to an end with as little human suffering as possible”, not even “I care about all civilians killed”. It says nothing productive. Which is presumably why so many people have shared it.

To learn about the conflict and to formulate an opinion that maintains dignity for all sides is something that cannot be accomplished by sharing an Instagram post. The learning that so many people on and off line refuse to do will not happen with an Instagram post. All it does is make Israelis, who will have to be involved in any future peace process, feel, yet again, that the world doesn’t care about their suffering. That their pain is meaningless. There was no “All eyes on the Nova festival”, there were no eyes on Kibbutz Be’eri, people didn’t want to see Jewish pain, it didn’t fit the simplistic narrative they’ve concocted.

So while the All Eyes on Rafah sharers may feel like they’ve done something powerful, the truth is they don’t really care because their interest in the story will die when it drops out of the headlines. And the rest of us will have to live with the consequences.

May 29, 2024 11:25

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