Living in Israel fear quite literally comes with the territory. I was afraid when sitting eating hummus in a restaurant when I heard the sirens go off, followed by a rather loud explosion moments later. I was afraid when I was wearing green a couple of days later and waiting to be sent into Gaza. But this is the usual fear. It’s one that you either hurts you or it doesn't, one that as an immigrant you either get used to and stay or can’t handle and return to your country of origin. In that sense I have stopped looking at it as a genuine fear and simply regard it as the price I pay for living in the country I love.
This is why when an altogether different kind of fear grips me that I feel it so deeply. Yesterday Ha’aretz reported that an Israeli was placed under arrest for a Facebook status. Omri Hayun, who lives in Tel Aviv criticized the state on Facebook and was therefore contacted by Police. It’s this that really makes me afraid. It’s this that really makes me doubt my government and country. We Israelis are so proud of what we have built here, of what we have accomplished that we find it very difficult not to brag since “we’re the only flourishing democracy in the Middle East” don’t you know?
But are we?
I’m not quite sure what the police thing they are going to achieve by monitoring the Facebook statuses of various Israelis. For sure there is an intelligence element to Facebook, though the detectives who tried to arrest Hayun have no connection with the intelligence services.
This is about social (media) control and it makes me feel very uncomfortable indeed.