Photo: Sebastian Vital on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/155754835@N04/36174821325

Social Media In The Age Of Zionism

Stefani Chudnow

Stefani Chudnow

Meet Stefani Chudnow – Jewish or Jew-ISH Blogger
Meet Stefani Chudnow – Jewish or Jew-ISH Blogger
Jewish or Jew-ISH? / 04.25.2018
The Mistreatment of Jewish Characters in the Media
The Mistreatment of Jewish Characters in the Media
Jewish or Jew-ISH? / 05.09.2018
I preface this blog by stressing that I don’t necessarily support everything the Israeli government and the IDF does.

If you’re anything like me, you’re ecstatic that Gal Gadot, a Jewish granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, plays Wonder Woman in the D.C. Cinematic Universe (DCEU). The Wonder Woman casting came up frequently in my day-to-day life last year. In person, I could often be found speaking with my Jewish friends and family about how much we adored the Wonder Woman movie and were excited about Gadot’s casting. On social media, though, I encountered vile anti-Semitism toward Gadot and other Jewish people.

On social media, people called Gadot a “Zionist,” implying that she actively supports the genocide of Palestinians. They perpetuated blood libel by saying Gadot personally slaughtered Palestinians and added a notch on her rifle every time she killed someone. They didn’t do research about the complexity of this conflict and Gadot’s mandatory service in the IDF, where she never even saw combat.

All of these things and more have made it difficult for me to enjoy using social media websites like Twitter and Tumblr. For me, a Jewish millennial who tries to be actively involved in media-consuming online communities (fandoms), it’s upsetting when I constantly see a Jewish-Israeli actress being written off a “Zionist” as if it is a negative term or attributed with untrue, dangerous stereotypes. These posts have led me to “mute” (ignore) posts from or unfollow other Twitter users in order to spare myself from seeing blood libel on my newsfeed. Moreover, just recently during the riots wherein the IDF killed 60 Palestinians, I purposely avoided going on Twitter so I wouldn’t see people I admire spewing anti-Semitism under the guise of Israel hatred. But temptation got me, and I made the mistake of logging on a few days ago to see that an actress I liked had retweeted an anti-Semitic tweet written by an anti-Semitic reporter. Though this disappointed me greatly, I wasn’t surprised given the circumstances.

This is an especially complicated situation for me. I’ve been raised in an environment that always unconditionally supported the state of Israel and its existence. I went to private schools where “Zionism” was always one of the core values. From a young age, I was told that Palestinians want people like me dead. 

I’ve since learned the world isn’t so clear-cut.

Now that I’m part of online communities, I can see how people all around the world truly feel about Israel, and I’m starting to see that its existence is not as black and white as I was raised to believe. The Israeli government and military are flawed, just as the United States’ government and military are flawed.

All this said, I wish I didn’t feel the need to avoid social media when a new DCEU movie comes out or when the IDF messes up big time. I wish I didn’t have to unfollow celebrities and other people in my fandoms because they buy into anti-Semitic rumors and falsehoods. I even almost wish people would stop disguising their anti-Semitism with the term “Zionists” when what they really mean are “Jews.”

Unfortunately, as long as I want to be active within non-denominational social media communities, this will be my reality.

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