Taking Care of Haters (and Yourself)
Between comments sections on every social media platform, constantly circulating posts, articles, videos, and speeches, there are plenty of platforms for anyone passionate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to share their take. In the modern world where everyone is a publisher, it can be almost too easy for opinions to become discussions, debates, and, ultimately, fights. As activists and educators, it can be a difficult balance between taking a stand against Facebook rants gone out-of-hand and being able to take a step back and relax. In order to be effective advocates for peaceful discourse, though, it is crucial to ensure that we are not exhausting our resources and that we are standing up for ourselves to ourselves as much as to others.
Taking care of haters is the easy part. It's the clearest path of fighting "right" versus "wrong". It's the glory of the war. Fighting haters is about being right and others being wrong.
The way to go about this battle, though, is more complex than most people consider when they write a hasty comment on a social media post. Taking care of haters means coming from a place of education. It's not shutting anyone down simply for disagreeing with you. It's listening and learning about other perspectives. Even the sassiest clap-back comments are rooted in layers of history and cultural understanding. That means that "taking care of haters" isn't about name-calling or about making those who sling evil comments cower in fear. It's about explaining what exactly they are doing and why it is offensive. While it may be easier (and, let's face it, much more satisfying) to insult the lack of intelligence of someone who believes, for instance, that Jewish people have no indigenous claim to the and of Israel, it is more effective in the long term to provide sources and explanations correcting their misinformation and preventing destructive language from spreading. It truly does pay to have a few articles queued up for some of the most common misconceptions shared online.
And if you think that sounds exhausting...
Taking care of haters means ensuring that you are taking care of yourself first. You can't stand up to external hate if you're not getting any sleep to do it. Being a strong advocate against hate comes with being an advocate for yourself and knowing what you need. If you need a break, take one. If you need to make a post or a video that isn't about Israel or anti-Semitism (or anything of the nature), then do it. If you feel like you can't take care of yourself anymore, it's important to take a break from taking care of others.
So lean back in your chair. Close your eyes for a few hours. Check the news. Make yourself some limonana, read a book, and remember this: to make peace, we have to be at peace.