Death, rockets, kidnappings, border skirmishes—they’ve been a recurring feature of life in Israel and the Palestinian territories for most of our lifetimes. But the current war between Israel and Hamas, sparked by the surprise terror attacks of Oct. 7, has wormed its way into the American consciousness in a way we haven’t seen for more than a decade, at least since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.
Pretty much everyone you know seems to have a take on who is to blame and what to do next—and those takes are saturating our feeds. Instagram right now reminds me of the summer of 2020, when supporters and opponents of the Black Lives Matter protests felt compelled to post their arguments, flags, and infographics, a mix of healthy argument, identity-driven posturing and plenty of obnoxious virtue-signaling. That moment changed public opinion for a few weeks—as I wrote about at the time—but the stridency of it all ultimately pushed people further into their political and cultural corners.
Something similar is playing out now. After the shock of Hamas brutally massacring more than 1,400 innocent people, it was only a matter of hours before familiar, decades-old arguments about Israel and Palestine began to resurface. But the current rhetoric seems to have a different cast than it did in 2006, before the iPhone existed, before people felt compelled to post about everything.