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Arab World: “We Stopped Saying Israel…”

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Digital Activism, Politics, Protest, War & Conflict

The controversy over the war on Gaza is never ending. Voices calling to prosecute the Israeli officials and officers for war crimes led to warning top Israeli officials against traveling to Europe in fear of impending war crime law suits. Others still claim that what happened during the Israeli aggression was actually in self defense. The Arab online community, getting sick and frustrated at the atrocities that were happening and the media warring that was going on both online and offline, launched a campaign that was sparked by the following tweet [1] (message on microblogging site twitter [2]):


Alloush [3] [ar] from Syria explains the idea behind the campaign to start using the word Israhell:

الواقع يقول أن إسرائيل في احتلالها للعرب ارتكبت أفظع المجازر وأقذر الأفعال التي شكلت معاناة انسانية حقيقية لهويتنا العربية، الواقعية تقول أنها Israhell وليس Israel، ما هي الترجمة الأصح لهذا المصطلح الجديد، هل نقول إسراحيم [إسرائيل+جحيم]، أم إسرارير [إسرائيل+شرير]، أم نلتزم بـ إسراهل، ربما كيان الجحيم أفضل ترجمة.

Reality says the Israel committed the most horrendous massacres and dirtiest actions by occupying the Arab lands, and this really shook our Arab identity. Reality says that it's Israhell and not Israel. What's the best translation for this new term? Should we say Israhell (Israel+Hell) or Isravil (Israel+Evil)? Maybe Hell Entity is the best translation [into Arabic].

The campaign got its artwork from the popular art website DeviantArt [4] by Algerian designer Hamoud [5].

The design attracted a flood of comments from people on both sides of the line of fire. DeviantArt user ~Arkangel-Wulf [6] jumps to defend the Israeli side saying:

Your thoughts and opinions are your own. But this is not an appropriate place to voice these opinions. Freedom of speech is only just until it's used to hurt others. Not all of Israel is behind their militarist's decisions. Don't scorn an entire country for the actions of a few.

We also see another online initiative – the Israeli Crimes Against Humanity Encyclopedia [7] [ar/en]- which is a joint effort of Syrian, Egyptian and Saudi bloggers – documenting the success of the campaign:

we got IsraHell about 40.000 result 6 days ago

2 days ago we were about 102.00

now we are about 117.000

The post is dates back to January 15th, 2008. A search at the time of writing this post shows 127,000 results.

While military operations are currently on hold, no one knows for how long this fragile ceasefire would hold, and when would all hell break loose again.