As the war between Gaza and Israel heightens to levels unseen since the devastating Operation Cast Lead, the competing narratives behind the conflict have reached a new platform: social media.

The war between hashtags embodies the deep mischaracterizations that are so prevalent on multiple ends of the conflict. While supporters of Gaza have been banding under the hashtag #GazaunderAttack, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) has created its own response -- #PillarofDefense. The translation from Hebrew can be interpreted as Pillar of Cloud, a Biblical reference to God incarnating himself as a cloud to confuse and terrorize Egyptians in order to protect the children of Israel.

All moral implications of using Biblical imagery for military operations aside, the IDF has taken its social media coverage of the attacks on Gaza to new levels. It has successfully created a brand for the Israeli military, and its sleek designs and infographics serve to suppress the horrifying stories of occupation out of Gaza.

Take, for instance, their newly launched Tumblr page. features images with bold, Helvetica font detailing how many Qassam rockets have been launched into Israel. "Share this to show life under fire," the post implores, ironically a sentiment that could serve daily life in Gaza more accurately.

Or take its new graphic depiction of "How Hamas sees Israel," with a young Jewish family and their small cat the focus of a gigantic, red target. While Hamas has made it clear that it intends to increase attacks after the assassination of senior Hamas official Ahmed Jabari, the IDF has created this statement without any citation of Hamas explicitly stating any goal of targeting civilians.

Yesterday, the IDF twitter, @IDFSpokesperson tweeted, almost to the point of hilarity, "Clarification: No rockets were fired from #Gaza on Tel-Aviv. #Hamas propaganda is constantly spreading misinformation." But Hamas doesn't have a Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook page to condense their misinformation into trendy infographics the way the IDF does.

In its own defense, the IDF posted a short video entitled, "How Does the IDF Minimize Harm to Palestinian Civilians in Gaza?" Despite the well-produced digital short, no numbers of civilian casualties are mentioned. Eight civilians, including an 11-month-old baby, have been killed as a result of air strikes, with 120 civilians injured.

But these are not the stories the IDF wants the public to see. Brilliantly, it has created a social media campaign that markets occupation as if it were Coca-Cola, a PR combination of capitalism and terrorism at its finest.

(Meher Ahmad is an editorial intern at The Progressive.)

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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