Letter to the Editor: The Pitfalls of Infographic Culture

Nick Reed , Scarlet Staff

A year ago today I don’t think I ever could have envisioned where I would be now. It’s 2021, Trump lost, I’m going to college across the country during a global pandemic, and I’m covering my tattoo with two bandaids.

Now hold on, you’re thinking, “what’s up with that last bit”? Oh, well I have a Chai on my wrist. To my Goyishe friends, it’s a Hebrew symbol commonly associated with the Jewish religion – basically, it means peace. 

Peace is anything other than what’s going on in the world right now; Israel has again made a shocking move to claim more Palestinian land. The week has been full of assaults on religious monuments and violent bombings of civillian targets. 

It all started when Israel began moving to evict residents of the mostly Palestinian Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Right-wing Israeli settlers have laid claim to the land and the Arab residents are refusing to leave. This has led to a renewed wave of protests across the country, and the globe.

I’m not gonna beat a dead horse. Palestinian Arabs, just like every people group, deserve the right to self determination, freedom of movement, and the right to pray in peace. However, this is not the end of the story, nor is it the whole picture.

As protests have enveloped much of the world, infographics have enveloped much of Instagram. Infographics are Instagram posts full of quick, easy to understand information on a current hot-button political issue that make for a quick and easy reference of what side you’re on. 

Despite ease of accessibility, these infographics are not a replacement for educational research, and set a rather dangerous precedent. Like most issues, the I/P conflict cannot be easily boiled down into ten easy-to-read slides. This is an issue that stems from hundreds of years of history, that affects the day-to-day lives of so many people.

These often hastily created graphics, in an attempt to highlight the valid pain and struggle of Palestinians, have minimized and nearly altogether forgotten the painful history of the Jewish people, often promoting antisemitic tropes and rhetoric. Some have even perpetuated a narrative not dissimilar to blood libel, and accusations of dual-loyalty have been abound.

This disregard of Jewish history has prompted an alarming increase in antisemitic attacks, including in the United States where an Israeli boy was allegedly attacked for his nationality. Hence, the two bandaids covering my tattoo.

My point here is, in no way, meant to censor or minimize the oppression of the Palestinian people. My intentions are, infact, quite the opposite. My point is that we cannot treat this centuries-old struggle like a trend – a hashtag that will be replaced in a week’s time by the next divulgence of strife.

Real, tangible human lives are being devastated by this situation every single day it continues. Real Israeli citizens are sheltering in bomb shelters while the sky erupts above them. Real Palestinian citizens are losing their homes and their lives to a military power they are simply not equipped to defend against. This will all still be happening when the Internet collectively finds a new trend to promote. 

All I ask is that those not directly affected by the conflict think critically about what they say and what they post. Palestinian liberation will not be achieved through antisemitic violence and outright misinformation. What you do, what you say, and what you post is important.

Jews, just like Palestinians, have a right to exist securely without the fear of persecution simply for who they are. Please, I beg you, for the sake of everyone actually affected by what’s going on, do your own research. Do the work to educate yourself. Make sure that what you post, and what you say is based upon the honest truth.

I am a Jew. I am proud to be a Jew. My ancestors survived Rome, Spain, and Russia, and, I too, will survive this. I’m not ashamed of who I am. But I am afraid.

If you are not Jewish, please, please be careful with the narrative you propagate. You have the power to change these narratives; to protect actual human lives. All it takes is critical thinking and a little bit of research. 

Please, continue to stand up for what you believe, but don’t let that be boiled down to an infographic.

-Nick Reed