[Discussion] The Middle East in Crisis

A place to post and discuss news related to the recent events in Israel, including the Hamas/Islamic Jihad incursion and repercussions.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t a two state solution been effectively killed by the continued construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank? Palestine can’t have a remotely contiguous nation as long as they’re there and wouldn’t guarantee their safety if they assumed control, and Israel isn’t going to forcibly relocate them.

Honestly, it feels like killing the two state solution was the calculated intent of the settlements, and I blame Netanyahu and his right-wing compatriots more for this than the coming destruction of Gaza- a response that I suspect most nations or peoples would carry out after the sheer barbarism we witnessed a few days ago, no matter how horribly tragic and hopelessly counterproductive it appeared to outside observers.

gewy wrote:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t a two state solution been effectively killed by the continued construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank? Palestine can’t have a remotely contiguous nation as long as they’re there and wouldn’t guarantee their safety if they assumed control, and Israel isn’t going to forcibly relocate them.

Honestly, it feels like killing the two state solution was the calculated intent of the settlements, and I blame Netanyahu and his right-wing compatriots more for this than the coming destruction of Gaza- a response that I suspect most nations or peoples would carry out after the sheer barbarism we witnessed a few days ago, no matter how horribly tragic and hopelessly counterproductive it appeared to outside observers.

The Two State Solution was THE cornerstone of Israeli-Palestinian relations for multiple administrations, but it effectively died with the election of Netanyahu. Not only did he insist on expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank (even through violent, anti-Palestinian means), but the ghettoization of smaller and smaller cantons of Palestinians was achieved through the use of walled highways with apartheid lanes. Not only are Palestinian lands not contiguous between Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestinian controlled territories within the West Bank are basically tiny prison islands in a sea of armed settler controlled territory. He has basically committed to a policy of generational dispossession of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the radicalization of Palestinians in the brutalized, open air prison of Gaza.

His policies made this expression of anticolonial violence inevitable. Again, it is a tragedy and the actors that carried out this massacre should, rightly, be condemned with the strongest language. But his actions made any other outcome impossible.

When folks ask me "what should Israel do?", my response is generally "dude, you f*cked up a long time ago".

I feel as though the two state solution died with Yitzhak Rabin.

I was waiting for some outlandish claim tonight that they were responsible for the release of hostages Judith and Natalie Raanan but I wasn't quite expecting to see the name of grifter Shaun King, aka "Talcolm X" attached to it.

And that's what I think the current conflict has in mind - full seizure of the northern half of the Gaza strip by military operation ostensibly on the premises it's to clear out Hamas. We'll never see dispossessed Palestinians return to the north. They will collapse tunnels, raze block after block, then the settlement expansion continues.

Bfgp wrote:

And that's what I think the current conflict has in mind - full seizure of the northern half of the Gaza strip by military operation ostensibly on the premises it's to clear out Hamas. We'll never see dispossessed Palestinians return to the north. They will collapse tunnels, raze block after block, then the settlement expansion continues.

Agree. They're not going to "give anything back" once the conflict deescalates.

Cramming 2.2 million civilians into an open air prison the size of Manhattan south of Central Park. Then making sure it has no access to power, water, food, medicine, fuel, or basic building materials. And then bombing it periodically. Then wondering why it can’t govern itself and develop into a thriving modern democracy.

That’s the plan.

It is difficult to find nuanced perspectives on what's happening and trying to make sense of events.

Here's a podcast I regularly listen to about China and geopolitical events but this week's episode was about the current crisis with an emphasis on the Jewish experience. I don't agree with everything said in the episode but there was a complex discussion of a concept around how various groups perceive events:

Palestine - as a place and concept vis-a-vis the existence of a Jewish state
Palestinians - as a group of humans deserving respect and right to self-determination

https://open.spotify.com/episode/0u1...

Don't forget, while settlement expansion goes on in the West Back, deplorably, horribly, Israel closed down and evicted settlers from 21 settlements in and around Gaza in 2005. So there is precedent for closing settlements in the West Bank.

However, four settlements were also removed from the West Bank. On March 21, 2023, at Netanyahu's behest, the part of the 2004 removal law applying to those settlements was repealed. Obviously there is a desire on the Right in Israel to remove any impediments to maintaining current West Bank settlements, and to creating new ones, over time.

This is a big obstacle on the Israeli side to a two state solution.

The PA, I believe, recognizes the right of Israel to exist and supports a Two State solution. But Mahmoud Abbas does not recognize Israel as a *Jewish* state. This is a huge problem for the Israeli Right.

Hamas rejects the right of Israel to exist and its founding documents speak of the "obliteration" of Israel. Hamas and the PA are currently enemies.

Hamas exists to establish an Islamic Republic where Israel sits today. The Israeli Right regards the entire region as a Jewish state. This of course solidifies on both sides a huge religious element to the conflict.

Both sides are participating in an asymmetrical war, in which Israel treads more and more the path of oppressive occupier, and Palestine the guerilla terrorists. Both commit atrocities in various ways, often as reprisals. Neither side seems willing to stop playing and reach out to the other. Both regard the conflict as existential, and that makes it so.

These conditions and conflicts are big obstacles on both side(s) to a two state solution.

Robear wrote:

Don't forget, while settlement expansion goes on in the West Back, deplorably, horribly, Israel closed down and evicted settlers from 21 settlements in and around Gaza in 2005. So there is precedent for closing settlements in the West Bank.

There were only a few thousand Gaza settlers, but there are approaching half a million West Bank settlers. For a hypothetical future Israeli leader who is seriously interested in negotiating a two state solution, disentangling that particular knot feels closer to insurmountable to me. The more there are, and the longer they stay there, the harder it gets to remove them. And that's the intent.

So naturally the Palestinians have given up all hope on negotiating their own state, and here we are.

I agree. I still think there's a constituency in the PA for a two-state solution, but the chances right now are basically nil.

Rat Boy wrote:

I was waiting for some outlandish claim tonight that they were responsible for the release of hostages Judith and Natalie Raanan but I wasn't quite expecting to see the name of grifter Shaun King, aka "Talcolm X" attached to it.

Why is WEB DeFraud inserting himself into this?

This is ruining doomscrolling. You read through stories of death and destruction, heartbreak and despair, and then you start snickering because someone calls him the Reverend Sketchy Jackson. Or Martin Luther Don King.

Creflo Dollar enters the chat.

Meet the ‘New Elites’ Who Control Twitter's Israel-Hamas News

A new study finds seven users are the dominant sources of news about the conflict, outpacing traditional outlets with 100 times more followers.
By
Thomas Germain
Published5 hours ago
Comments (2)
A phone with the X logo displayed on it.
Photo: Evolf / Shutterstock.com (Shutterstock)
An unorthodox group of 7 users is now the most dominant news source for information about the Israel-Hamas war on X (formerly Twitter), according to a new report from the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public. Dubbed the “New Elites” of X, the report found these users racked up 1.6 billion views on the platform in the first three days of the conflict, making them far more influential than traditional news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the BBC. Many of the accounts have been promoted by Elon Musk in the past.

The research comes amid a broader conversation about the influence of social media in a time of crisis. Immediately after the Hamas attacks, the platform was reportedly flooded with misinformation about the war, drawing criticism from regulators and calls for other platforms to fill the news void left in Musk’s wake. The University of Washington’s report was published the same day as a NewsGuard study which found that X’s blue-checked verified users produce 74% of misinformation on the platform, which then spreads to the rest of the internet.

Indeed, X’s New Elites are all verified users, and several have a reputation for posting misinformation, including @sentdefender, @spectatorindex, and @WarMonitors. According to the report, the New Elites tweet in a style that erases context, spreads disturbing imagery, and adds to the emotionally charged nature of discussions surrounding the situation in Gaza.

However, the researchers say the broader problem is a question about what counts as “news” in the modern social media landscape. “The issue here isn’t misinformation — though misinformation can be involved. The issue is what the news environment looks like,” said Mike Caulfield, a research scientist at the University of Washington and the report’s lead author. “There’s really two different visions of what that news environment should be. Our report shows that one of those visions has become dominant on X.”

A screen shot of the New Elites, ordered by the total number of views they recieved. In order: @visegrad24, @MarioNawfal, @sentdefender, @spectatorindex, @WarMonitors, @CollinRugg, @CensoredMen
Graphic: University of Washington
Most of the new elites are accounts run by individual people. @Censoredmen, for example, primarily tweeted about misogynist internet star Andrew Tate before switching to news content. But others are full-blown media operations. The top-performing account is @Visegrad24, a Poland-based enterprise of about 12 people that grew to prominence tweeting about the war in Ukraine.

“I do think that there is a problem with the mainstream media maintaining absolute control on certain narratives,” Stefan Tompson, who started the Visegrad 24 account with his brother in 2020, told Gizmodo. Tompson, a PR strategist who got his start working on the “Leave” side of the Brexit campaign, said he’s preparing to launch a brand new media company with a team of journalists to build on Visegrad 24's success. His newfound influence comes with an ironic respect for the traditional media he started out criticizing. “I understand there is a genuine threat if we do get something wrong,” he said. “It has real-life consequences. I look at that, and I sort of understand a lot of the regulations and limits and restraint around of a lot of the mainstream media.”

The news environment that dominates X isn’t necessarily what users are asking for. The top six traditional news accounts on X belong to the BBC, CNN, the New York Times, and Reuters. Collectively, those accounts have 298.1 million followers — nearly 100 times more than the New Elites, who together amount to just 3.2 million followers. In other words, the platform isn’t serving up the news content that users explicitly request when they hit the follow button.

But when you look at the engagement these accounts receive, the New Elites are winning by a mile. Together, the report found the top six traditional media outlets got 112 million views on Israel-Hamas news in the first three days of the conflict. The New Elites earned 1.6 billion views. Visegrad 24 generated 370 million views alone.

“Our sense, which I think is supported by the number of people who have followed traditional news sources there, is that is not the vision a lot of users of X had when they signed up,” Caulfield said.

For many, the Israel-Hamas conflict has been a wake-up call for the health of X’s news ecosystem. X CEO Linda Yaccarino maintains the platform is fighting to address the issue, but Musk has demonstrated it’s a problem he doesn’t take seriously. In September, for example, X disabled the option to report misinformation on the platform.

“If you look at all my posts, especially in the peak of the war, all of them have a source,” Mario Nawfal, the second most influential member of the report’s New Elite, told us. His account is also run by an entire team of people, and he’s one of the biggest stars on Musk’s revamped platform.

Nawfal, who rose to prominence with content about cryptocurrency, said he’s committed to accuracy and unbiased information. At the same time, he’s a controversial figure in his own right who’s been accused of shady business dealings in the past, something Nawfal categorically denies. He’s also been charged with cutting corners to juice his engagement on X, but Nawfal told Gizmodo most of his tweets come straight from established news outlets. “We have a list of media sources that we use,” he said. “Some we’ll post immediately. Others, like Al-Quds, we have to verify because they’re not as accurate as others.”

The report used a novel approach to analyze the Israel-Hamas discourse on X. The researchers collected every tweet mentioning related terms including “Gaza,” “Israel,” and “Hamas” with at least 500 likes sent between October 7th (the day of the initial Hamas attack) and October 10th. The researchers then examined every X user in the data set and tallied the total number of views their tweets received. That generated a list of the 10 most influential accounts, but the report excluded @elonmusk and @POTUS because they aren’t primarily new-focused. (Musk and the President’s account were also some of the least influential on the list in terms of views.) Because the report focused on English-language news, the researchers also excluded @AlertaNews24, which tweets in Spanish.

Like Tompson, Nawfal is less critical of mainstream media outlets than you might expect. “I’ve always been pretty vocal that the world needs traditional media,” he said. But Nawfal said the traditional media’s recent shortcomings on X stem from a failure to tailor their content to the platform. “X has been pretty transparent about what works and doesn’t work,” Nawfal said. “It’s just an algorithm, and it represents what people want to read. They want the news, but they want it in a specific format.”

Gizmodo reached out to the other members of the New Elites but didn’t hear back. X did not respond to a request for comment.

The New Elites have advantages that are generally unavailable to traditional media organizations. Unlike more established news outlets, these accounts often share “breaking news” that hasn’t been verified, and they rarely cite sources. As the report points out, that comes with a major risk of sewing misinformation.

“I actually agree with that criticism, but I think it’s inevitable that the space will be filled with people who move too fast,” Tompson said. “But if it’s not us, you’ll have someone far worse doing it, spreading misinformation on purpose for clicks and engagement. I don’t see a remedy.”

Unlike the other members of the new elite, Nawfal and an account called @WarMonitors do mention where they get their news. However, the report said this doesn’t go far enough, because their tweets don’t include links to the original articles.

“It’s a fair piece of criticism,” Nawfal said, but it’s a strategic approach because X’s algorithm demotes tweets that include links to other websites. However, Nawfal said he plans to experiment with adding links in the comments in response to the report’s critique. Tompson said he’s frustrated that his team doesn’t include information about sources in @Visegrad24's tweets. Like Nawfal, he said he plans to push them to add those details going forward.

Another key aspect of the New Elites’ success comes from Elon Musk himself. The billionaire explicitly recommended users follow @sentdefender and @warmonitors for Israel news, despite the fact that both have a history of posting misinformation. (After the Washington Post wrote an article criticizing Musk for the recommendation, he deleted the tweet.) To name one example, both accounts reported a false claim in May that there had been an explosion near the White House.

A chart of the top six traditional news outlets compared to the New Elites, showing the comparison of follower counts.
Traditional outlets have nearly 100 times more followers, but their content reaches far fewer people, the report finds. Graphic: University of Washington
Musk has personally appeared on Nawfal’s live audio streams on X Spaces. And with the exception of @spectatorindex, Musk has replied to every one of the New Elites’ accounts since he took over Twitter, skyrocketing their visibility. He also follows three of them and even has a paid subscription to four of their accounts, including Nawfal, @sentdefender @CollinRugg, @WarMonitors

“There is every indication that this is the sort of news ecosystem [Musk] is trying to build,” Caulfield said. “I don’t think this is some secret plan. I think if you asked Musk about this he’d probably say, yes, this is what news should be — more raw, more unfiltered, less links to longer reads elsewhere.”

Aside from problems with sourcing and accuracy, the report also highlights that many of these accounts boost engagement by framing their content with emotionally charged language. The New Elites’ tweets also tend to harness violent and sometimes disturbing imagery, including footage of dead or injured victims and airstrikes.

“While traditional news does at times use such imagery as well, the sheer volume of these tweets, combined with the lack of deeper analysis or context mentioned above, created for our analysts the sense of a constant stream of decontextualized anger and violence when analyzing these accounts,” the report said.

In the past, X (then Twitter) allowed for free access to the company’s internal data, which let researchers unpack a deeper understanding of what’s happening on social media in real-time. That was the established norm in the social media industry, one that Musk quickly discarded. The billionaire set up a prohibitively expensive paywall for X’s API, the tool that lets outsiders analyze the platform. Researchers are developing new techniques to study X, but thorough investigations are far more difficult and sometimes impossible. In many respects, X is now a black box.

Caulfield said that makes it hard to compare X’s current landscape to the news ecosystem that flourished before Musk’s takeover. “What we can say is that most of these accounts we describe are newly popular, and the style of posting they use feels different than what we’ve seen before,” he said. “But quantifying that shift is going to take a lot more work. In the meantime, I think it’s fair to say if you’ve sensed a shift in what appears in your feed, you’re probably not imagining it.”

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So who is lying? I guess one could argue that in hell the staff were very nice but generally these two things would be in opposition.

CNN current

One of the two Israeli hostages released from Hamas custody described being kidnapped from her kibbutz and taken to a tunnel in Gaza. "I went through hell," Yocheved Lifsh*tz, 85, said Tuesday.

But from another source

IMAGE(https://preview.redd.it/1s41h9l095wb1.png?width=640&crop=smart&auto=webp&s=9a9e3a40603cd14513fe6ba57630d245a6b1af37)

Per this direct article from CNN re: Yocheved Lifshetz, both are correct.

CNN wrote:

CNN — An Israeli hostage released by Hamas has described her ordeal after she was kidnapped by gunmen and taken into a tunnel system in Gaza during the Palestinian militant group’s deadly assault in Israel on October 7, saying “I went through hell.”

Yocheved Lifsh*tz, a frail 85-year-old grandmother who was one of two hostages released by Hamas on Monday, recounted the moment that militants snatched her from her home in the kibbutz of Nir Oz and drove her away on a motorbike towards Gaza, a “painful act” during which she said she was beaten and sustained bruises.

Lifsh*tz said she was forced to walk on wet ground and descended into an underground tunnel system she likened to a spiderweb, where she was greeted by “people who told us we believe in the Quran” and promised “not to harm” her and her fellow hostages.

Lifsh*tz’s daughter Sharone, who helped convey her mother’s comments to reporters outside a hospital in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, called it a “huge network” of tunnels.

Lifsh*tz said she was initially grouped together with 25 other people before her captors separated her into a smaller group with four other individuals from her kibbutz. She said they slept on mattresses on the floor of the tunnels, ate the same food as Hamas fighters and received regular treatment from doctors during her incarceration.

"They really took care of the sanitary side of things so that we didn’t get sick,” Lifsh*tz added.

Each of the five hostages in her group received their own doctor and there was a paramedic present who supervised medication, she said.

“They were very generous to us, very kind. They kept us clean,” Lifsh*tz said. “They took care of every detail. There are a lot of women and they know about feminine hygiene and they took care of everything there.”

I think both things can be true at the same time: that being taken hostage is a hellish experience in general, but that your captors can treat you with a modicum of dignity.

Edited for tact & elaboration of stance, apologies for the shortness of the original post.

The worst part is, not only did the poor lady go through Hell, but now her name keeps getting "fixed" by the GWJ auto-censors.

TheMostRad wrote:

Per this direct article from CNN re: Yocheved Lifshetz, both are correct.

which makes me now wonder what agenda each source has. Quoting only one half of a statement like that paints a very different picture than quoting the other half.

Complimenting her captors on their kindness and generosity... makes me wonder if she was in the early stages of developing Stockholm syndrome.

Her husband still being a hostage is relevant here. Hamas is doubtless watching media coverage closely, why would she do anything to antagonize them while her husband is still held?

If she were worried about it, why would she mention being beaten with sticks and having her jewelry stolen? It's entirely possible that her abduction and transport was brutal, but the holding area was well-run and comfortable for what it was. There are other hostages who have been brutally executed, and perhaps tortured, so I suspect experiences will run the gamut.

I just don't see her comments as reflecting Stockholm Syndrome. She did not make a statement referencing the justice of the Palestinian cause, the bravery of the fighters, that sort of excusing of her captors, did she? Patty Hearst literally had to be deprogrammed. That's another level entirely.

In that interview she also blamed the IDF and Shin Bet for failing to prevent the attack, so it's not like she's saying things that are completely out of left field. The ISR government probably doesn't want anymore press interviews with former hostages, too.

She also said it was a terrible experience.

gewy wrote:

Complimenting her captors on their kindness and generosity... makes me wonder if she was in the early stages of developing Stockholm syndrome.

fun fact, Stockholm Syndrom might not actually be a thing, just like Excited Delirium, the condition was invented by police psychologists to explain why a particular group of former hostages refused to testify against their captors after the cops were so extremely hostile and inept while responding to a bank robbery that the hostages were more afraid of the cops than their captors. TV and movies make it seem common but actual demonstrable examples of Stockholm Syndrome are incredibly rare and can often be explained by other things.

Well going a proper study with a control group etc would be rather unethical.

It just read to me like she was commenting about the two different groups of Hamas she interacted with. The ones who abducted her and brought her to the tunnels were horrible and beat her, but the ones she was handed over to once she was in the tunnels, were better. She's not saying they were good, after all, they were still holding her captive, but they treated her more humanely than one would think Hamas would treat a hostage. It's not a surprising difference, assuming the ones that grabbed her were basic foot soldiers and the ones in charge of her captivity were more professional guards.

Both those sources are promoting their own agendas by selectively quoting her for their blurbs.

I too have read the past articles about Stockholm Syndrome not being a real thing. Patty Hearst being an example. I don't think it's hard to believe that humans can hold two simultaneous thoughts together at once. Someone is brutalizing me. Someone is keeping me alive.

Someone is a murderer. Someone has legitimate gripes about the status quo.

Kind of an allegory for this whole situation but I'm a Humanities major so I would see it that way.

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