This message was the status update of a friend of mine, this was her way of announcing the world that tragedy has struck. Posted 39 minutes after midnight on Thursday my friend brought the difficult, unbearable, reality of Israel home to all her friends wherever they are. Living in Israel, the very existence of Israel comes at a high cost.
In Jewish tradition when mourning the death of a member of family, men express their grief by tearing part of their shirt (Kria’a קריעה) and do not shave for a month. Thus, if you show up to work one day and someone walks in after a week of absence (due to the week long tradition of grieving, Shiva’a שבעה) with a brand new, un-kept beard, you can naturally assume the worst.
So, how does academia look at this? How does one reconcile theorizing about the death of geography due to the advent of the Internet? Bauman, argued that the digital era will create vertical social connections at the expense of horizontal, geographical, based ones. These brothers in arms, Sgt. Menhash al-Banyat, 20, of the Bedouin community of Kseife in the Negev; Sgt. Matan Ovdati, 19, of Moshav Patish in the western Negev; and Sgt. David Papian, 21, of Tel Aviv, served their mandatory 3 years in the military, were not a part of the academic theorization about the meaning of space in the digital age. They fought and died in the sands of the Northern Negev Dessert.
Back at home, their friends and family learned of this tragedy via the press. Worried, the inevitable, macabre, ritual that all Israelis are so accustomed to, these people started calling their loved ones who did not pick up their cell phones. Alarmed, they call their families. Army procedure stipulates that the families are informed first and only then is the media allowed to publish news about soldiers killed in action. Once reaching the families, news spreads fast and is manifested, through vertical, digital connections in various platforms: like Facebook’s status updates.
In battlefields across the world, in countries with no infrastructure, life is removed from academic abstractions about vertical or horizontal social structures, and is simply a brutal, difficult battle for survival. My condolences to the families, and may next Passover start on a happier, peaceful note.
Attached is an amazing piece by the Guardian’s Clancy Chassay who documented a local Gaza group bombarding Israeli towns, which is why David Papian and his comrades where there in the first place.