As the Israeli-Palestine conflict continues to dominate headlines and online debates in the United States and across the world, many have noticed a disturbing trend on social media, college campuses, and at protests.
There is a growing hatred toward Jews and Muslims across America, and the polarization of the issue is making it worse.
I’m not here to convince you which side you need to support. Frankly, you don’t need to choose one.
What you need to choose is to fight hate speech.
It’s tempting to choose a side and adopt their talking points in an emotionally-filled atmosphere, even here in the United States. It’s likely that someone you know has talked to you about the conflict and asked what your opinion was.
But when you choose a side in a conflict like this, it’s highly likely that you were influenced into taking that view; whether by a friend, family member, or social media.
And in an increasingly polarized nation, the conversation can quickly change from why support is needed for this group, to why the other group is dangerous and why they’re in the wrong.
Obviously this has been happening for years; It’s the current state of American politics. But this recent conflict between Israel and Palestine is a different type of debate.
It’s not your aunt talking about why bill XYZ needs to pass the House or your dad arguing for the newest presidential candidate who has burst onto the scene.
We’re talking about a conflict that is going to have implications for generations. Families being forever split.
It seems to me that many have joined in the ruckus of choosing a side simply because it’s the newest issue. Trends don’t wait to consider both sides of the coin. They stir people up and push them to consume more content that validates their view, making their opinion more and more one sided and dug in. Before you know it, you’ll be in an echo chamber of opinions.
This is dangerous and unhealthy for many reasons. But here’s the most important one.
It breeds hate speech.
Listening to the same outrage toward Palestine or Israel with no median could make one believe everything good, and more importantly, everything bad about the other side.
This hypothetical may not be you. But what has happened across streets and college campuses in America somewhat confirms what I’m saying.
Any form of hate, whether that is violence, threats both at rallies and social media, needs to be called out.
Speaking up can be hard. But when we choose to avoid and call out hateful rhetoric towards either side, it can allow us to see humanity on both sides of the conflict. Not hate.
Cleary Percy is a Haven freshman studying Education with a focus on history.