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2015-01_dc

14 D+C Vol.42.2015:1 Feda Ataya is another young Palestinian netizen. She has been writing the blog Farasha (“Butterfly”) since 2011. The motto was inspired by a line of Mahmoud Darwish, a prominent Palestinian poet: “The butterfly’s traces are invisible, the butter- fly’s traces never fade.” Ataya says: “I blog when something makes me very angry, or when I feel touched.” For instance, she has written about the wall that Israel has erected in Abu Dis. This wall is about eight metres high, made of concrete and stands be- tween the town and Jerusalem. The blog entry states that a group of graffiti have decided not to paint on it, which would only serve to make it aesthetically more pleasing. “The wall is fundamentally wrong. Why should we beautify it?”, Ataya quotes women she met in Abu Dis. Her writing is dense, full of symbols, inviting readers to think. The language is colloquial Pales- tinian Arabic. “I am not a journalist,” says Ataya. “This style suits my personality. What matters is that people feel something when they read my posts.” Growing number of internet activists Ataya lives in Kafar Nima, a village west of Ramallah. There is an Israeli settlement right next to her village, and the wall is about 10 kilometres away. The numbers of young Palestinians who are active on the internet is growing, but social media only mo- bilise small numbers to rally for political or social causes in the streets. They do not mobilise much in- ternational support either. Saleem Al-Habash, who teaches public relations and social media at Michigan State University, argues that Palestinians should not only post what grabs readers’ attention on the inter- net, but also publish content that “motivates people to become active”. Iman Khawaja agrees with Al-Habash. She is 24 and has been running the photo and video blog Said Al-Kamera (“camera prey”) since 2009. She says that offline activism remains scant because many people lack the courage to take to the streets. Feda Ataya, in contrast, considers the gap between virtual and physical engagement normal: “People are like the five fingers of a hand – every one is differ- ent.” One person gets irritated and starts writing, she explains, and another starts screaming. One person starts destroying things, and another per- sons stays silent. And then there is someone who actually does something to change things. “All peo- ple are on Facebook and on the web. But only a few actually do something. That is normal, not only in Palestine,” says Ataya. To tap the full potential of social media in Pales- tine, Saed Karzoun wants bloggers to network. His Blog Bus serves the purposes. It is where Iman Kha- waja and Feda Ataya first met. Karzoun also wants to make more young Pales- tinians familiar with social media, including in the context of specific campaigns. An initiative he re- cently started in cooperation with others is opposed to honour killings on the West Bank. The young ac- tivists want to put pressure on Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to pass a law designed to pun- ish murderers. Many bloggers have endorsed this initiative. Links: Muhammed Abu Allan “BahrakYaYafa“ (Your Sea, Jaffa): http://blog.amin.org/yafa1948/ Feda Ataya “Farasha” (Butterfly): http://blog.amin.org/fidaaataya: Iman Khawaja: http://blog.amin.org/ikhawaja/ Saed Karzoun: http://saedkarzoun.wordpress.com/ B’Tselem – Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories: http://www.btselem.org/ Sharek Youth Forum: http://sharek.ps/en/ Taghyeer for Social Media: http://taghyeer.ps/about/ Mona Naggar is a journalist based in Beirut. [email protected] googlemail.com Naggar Feda Ataya (left), poetic blogger and Iman Khawaja, who runs a photo and video blog.

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