Alongside the outpouring of concern on social media for the safe return of the three Israeli teens kidnapped last Thursday, including a twitter campaign with the slogan #bringbackourboys, exists a cynical, hateful and dangerous campaign praising the kidnapping.
The pro-kidnapping messages, being promoted by some Palestinians and others across the Arab and Muslim world, are conveyed through pictures, cartoons, blog posts, memes and even songs.
The most prominent is the “Three Fingers” campaign, representing the three kidnapped youths. This is a variation on the four-finger salute adopted by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in their fight against current President and former general Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi, and in support of ousted president Muhammad Morsi. Social media images depict adults and children performing a three-finger salute in solidarity with the kidnappers. In some photos, objects, such as three bananas, are used as props to recreate the salute, and similar themes have also appeared in cartoons in Arabic-language newspapers.
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The other element to the pro-kidnapping campaign is the invocation of former Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held captive by Hamas for five years and released in 2011 in exchange for Israel freeing 1027 Palestinian terrorists. A Facebook page titled “Three Shalits” calls on the public to share pictures of themselves holding up three fingers in support of a similar exchange of the kidnapped Israeli teens for additional Palestinians in Israeli jails. Some of the captions suggest that each kidnapped boy should be released in exchange for 1027 Palestinians, bringing the total number to 3081.
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The pro-kidnapping social media campaign also includes a song praising the kidnappers called “A Handful of Shalits.” The singer says “We’ve got you all, Shalits,” which is followed up by a call to Palestinians in Israeli prisons that their release is near.
A different, and no less disturbing campaign, also exists on the other extreme in the form of a Hebrew Facebook page calling for “the execution of one terrorist every hour until the teens are released.” The page has already garnered almost 20,000 likes, and contains selective Biblical quotations and other statements to support violent reprisals to the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens.