Wednesday, January 07, 2009

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Disputed Territory: War in Gaza Provokes Protest (And Conversation) In Second Life Israel

Israel_protestProtesters continue convening in SL Israel today

In Second Life there is a new Israel, appropriately called SL Israel, which recreates in virtual form aspects of the country, from religious landmarks of Jerusalem such as the Temple Mount, to tourist sites of Tel Aviv.  Last week when Israel began launching guided missiles at Hamas targets in Palestine, however, SL Israel became a flashpoint of another kind.  As the airstrikes pounded Gaza, so did protesters, teleporting into SL Israel, waving flags.

Israel_protesters

"Lots of people yelling," Beth Odets tells me. "They were going on and on with slurring obscenities about murderous Israeli forces, etc."  She gives me a screenshot taken during the incursion, festooned with anti-war or pro-Palestinian signs, some depicting dead Arab children.

Ms. Odets helped create SL Israel, so she maintains land permissions to the region.  She began ejecting the most obstreperous protesters. "I had to be careful not to boot people who didn't actually do anything wrong," as she puts it.  But the protesters kept coming, and eventually she felt forced to close all of SL Israel to outsiders.  "Just shut it down for a little while.  Just to make it stop. 'Cause people weren't wanting to be logical, or talk."

The protesters keep arriving, however.  On a brief visit to SL Israel late last night, for example, I found a half-dozen members of something called "Second Life International Socialists", brandishing placards and chattering in front of a lone avatar wearing a yarmaluke.

In SL Israel, this was not the full extent of the reaction to the ongoing war in Gaza, however.  "Later came people who were wanting to really talk," Beth adds, "like the ones here."  She teleports me over, so I can see for myself. 

Which is how I found myself on the shoreline of SL Israel, amid an impromptu colloquium between a pro-Palestinian Muslim in a kaffiyeh, and avatar dressed as an IDF soldier, three Jewish women, and, of course, a talking rabbit.

Sl_israel_gathering

Along with the Arab headscarf, Clip Chau wears a "Free Palestine" T-Shirt, and when I arrive, he is talking on the boardwalk with a brunette named TamaraEden Zinnemann.

"... and I was the only Muslim in the class and she was the only Jew so whenever Israel and Palestine came up, you know what happened," Chau tells her. "She was a great teacher.  Never biased, and she understood Palestinian pain.  I think she was a huge reason behind me starting to even consider talking to Jewish people.  Before that it was a no go area for me, it was a birth hatred, I guess."

Tamaraeden_zinnemann_and_clip_chauAs it turns out,  Ms. Zinnemann is also a teacher in real life:

"I am very cautious when my kids ask me 'Jewish' or Political questions," she tells Chau. "I like to tell them when they want my opinion that my job, as their teacher, is to help them make up their own minds."

I mostly listen from the sidelines, but TamaraEden Zinnemann looks up.

"Hamlet, please write that I'm an American Jew. Clip is a Canadian Muslim, and we are having a great time sharing our commonalities. I'm serious."

Shmoo_snook I tell her that I will.  Someone small at our feet pipes up.

"Write that I'm a bunny, OK?" Shmoo Snook demands.   I assent to that as well. 

"And cute, too!"  he adds. 

That duly noted, the bunny proceeds to talk about the photos he saw of IDF rescuing Palestinians from a collapsed tunnel, and complain about the Bush Adminstration.

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Crap Mariner

I can confirm the fact that Shmoo Snook is not only a bunny, but also cute.

Protester

I protest protesters!

And second the cute comment.

Dr. Robotnik

Clearly nerds with no life can be terrorist apologists too.

Sinead McMillan

omg, ...that's what i call profound investigative journalism

Cyndi

lol, now all the right wing israeli lobbyist will be coming after you nerdy.

you see, trampling on their fantasy of 2nd coming of Jesus...hence all the Jews must be there to convert on Jerusalem shall never be challenged.

Richard Romano

"hence all the Jews must be there to convert on Jerusalem shall never be challenged."

I guarantee that Cyndi has never met a Christian, nor ever studied the Bible in any serious way. But, you can thank your university education and the idiot leftists you learned under. Good work Cyndi!!!

Hamlet Au

Please keep it civil, everyone.

Sisou

Such a horrible situation! Its good too see some can be civil. and that rabbit is adorable

Beth Odets

Bunnies are especially cute... when they reflect on the bush administration. :)

Harper Ganesvoort

The civility can be a relative, fleeting thing. When I dropped in, about 28 hours ago (and after reading this piece), there was a whole bunch of ranting going on, at least one weirdo claiming to be from Brazil, and the two sides were trying to see who could generate the larger and more irritating flags. Clearly, in a world where there is no real law except what you impose on yourself, the customs of civil discourse can be thrown out at will.

Sabrina

Both sides are wrong!!! The fighting is never going to stop because it is a challenge of beliefs which are the strongest motivators for people's actions.

frank

Israel will always be an ally of the U.S. But I question why the Israelis continue to build illegal settlements, in complete defiance of even W's administration's request to stop! I will no longer support Israel's causes. I'm tired of America not being an honest broker in the region and getting drawn into Israel's "war on terror". Back up to the 1967 border, get off Palestinian land, stop the construction of illegal settlements and end the occupation. I will right my congressman to cut off funding to Israel ( I know it won't happen), until Israel listens to it's biggest ally's requests. Enough already, cut the crap!

Gad

We should just blow them all off the face of the earth and be done with it.

cherry

The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war

Even the most naive American voter cannot be expected to see the morally, legally and politically questionable death sentence given to Saddam Hussein a milestone in the Bush Administration's illegal war in Iraq. As the milestones pile up, so do the bodies.

Those violations include:
• Collective punishment: The entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

• Targeting civilians: The airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

• Disproportionate military response: The airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza's elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

Earlier Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza's besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.

Certainly the rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful. But that illegality does not give rise to any Israeli right, neither as the Occupying Power nor as a sovereign state, to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in its response. I note that Israel's escalating military assaults have not made Israeli civilians safer; to the contrary, the one Israeli killed today after the upsurge of Israeli violence is the first in over a year.

Israel has also ignored recent Hamas diplomatic initiatives to re-establish the truce or ceasefire since its expiration on 26 December.

The Israeli airstrikes today, and the catastrophic human toll that they caused, challenge those countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel's violations of international law. That complicity includes those countries knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks, as well as those countries who have supported and participated in the siege of Gaza that itself has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

I remind all Member States of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law--regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel's serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.

Crap Mariner

I've stated my position in the Protests posts on my own site. No need to make Hamlet crazy with worrying about moderating a slap-fight.

Beth Odets/Brown

I am concerned about whoever left a comment under my name yesterday. I did not leave the previous comment that is labeled "Beth Odets". I know because 1) i didnt leave a comment yesterday, and 2) that isnt how i speak at all. I don't know why someone would claim to be me, but I'd appreciate if it would not happen again.

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