Cite: Stein, StateTube: Anthropological Reflections on Social Media and the Israeli State

Stein, Rebecca L. “StateTube: Anthropological Reflections on Social Media and the Israeli State.” Anthropological Quarterly 85.3 (2012): 893-916.

URL: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/anthropological_quarterly/v085/85.3.stein.html

Abstract

While the state’s blueprints for the social media future are currently being imagined by officials in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the political effects of this project are far from certain. What will digital statecraft mean for Israel’s relations with neighboring Arab states? How might it impact the everyday functioning of the Israeli military occupation and the everyday lives of Palestinians living under its thumb? For even as events in Egypt and Tunisia concretized state investment in social media as an information platform, and also as a tool for counter-insurgency, these revolutions raised other political specters as well. “We cannot but be impressed,” IDF spokesman Avi Benayahu noted recently in relation to current events in the Arab World, “at how Western technology harms regimes…one cell phone camera can harm a regime more than any intelligence operation can” (Fyler 2011). The fact that social media are concurrently employed by anti-occupation activists, Jewish and Palestinian, on both sides of the Green Line separating Israel proper from its occupied territories, is something that state officials interviewed for this article did not wish to address-and herein lie the risks. When viewed with the Arab Spring in mind, these countervailing digital trends raise the possibility of a very different digital future in Israel-far from that imagined in the IDF’s new media offices.

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