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The Arab-Israeli Conflict in Social Media

Pew Research and Crimson Hexagon Reveal Strong Support for Israel across Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs

A new report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism examining online opinion of the Israeli-Arab conflict from May 19-25 has found strong support for Israel across social media.

The report, which utilized Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight platform to rapidly monitor 48,000 blog posts and 430,000 posts on Facebook and Twitter, analyzed online conversation in the days following President Barack Obama’s address on Israel and the Middle East to ascertain the current state of opinion.

The Arab Israeli Conflict in Social Media image Screen shot 2011 06 03 at 11.26.41 AM

Some of Pew’s primary findings include:

  • There was almost three times as much support for the Israeli cause as for the Palestinian one. “Many of those expressing support also took President Obama to task for suggesting that peace in the region would best be achieved by creating a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.”
  • Participants in the conversation were not merely communicating the news of Obama’s speech—they were expressing opinions. “Only a small percentage of the conversation was neutral as most users shared strong opinions about the difficult issues involved in the peace process.”
  • The opinions divided along familiar lines in the conflict, with supporters of Israel suggesting Obama was not doing enough to support a staunch U.S. ally and supporters of the Palestinians suggesting “Israel continues to be an occupying power backed by the U.S.”

The Conflict in Social Media
Over the timeframe examined, the Crimson Hexagon platform helped Pew organize and analyze 303,506 opinions on Facebook and Twitter alone, with 11% of the opinions coming from Facebook and 89% from Twitter.

Much of the Pro-Israel opinion, 60% of Twitter and Facebook opinion, centered on the decision to renegotiate to 1967 borders. As one Facebook user writes: “What universe does Obama live in? What does he think would happen if Israel gave up the pre-67 borders. Look at what happened when Israel handed over Gaza in ’05.”

Criticism of Obama was also prevalent on Twitter. One user, @Obamapocalypse, writes: “Netanyahu smack down at the WH, schools #Obama on the reality of indefensible borders and the survival of the State of Israel. #tcot #ocra.” Another, @olpartnersllc, says: “OMG – Obama has lost his mind. Change the borders of Israel to 1967? He has got to be nuts or worse.”

Pro-Palestinian opinion, 20% of Twitter and Facebook opinion, focused on Israeli actions and U.S. support of Israel. @Lisang on Twitter writes: “Bibi also forgot to mention how many Gazan civilians the Israeli army killed after the 2005 withdrawal. #bibispeech.” @ibnezra writes: “Try it. The US will always guarantee Israeli “occupation.” Israeli “occupation” can never be challenged etc #aipac2011.”

There was also discussion from Palestinian supporters of the land rights in the region, with @RshRsho writing: “Giving up part of jewish land???? EXCUSE ME this is palestinian land you stole!! #Natanyahu.”

On the whole, blog posts accounted for roughly 7% of the opinions online, maintaining a similar ratio of support at Twitter and Facebook opinions. 55% of blog posts were pro-Israeli while 19% were Pro-Palestinian and 27% were neutral.

Thus far, the conflict has largely played out off of the internet: how do you think will social media shape the debate in the future?

Access the complete Pew Research report here.

As always, we’ll continue analyzing the space for interesting trends. In the meantime, feel free contact us at info@crimsonhexagon.com with questions or to learn how your market, brand or product could benefit from leveraging the Crimson Hexagon ForSight™ platform for social media monitoring and analysis. Want to see the Crimson Hexagon platform in action? Request a Live Online Demo.

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  1. rybin says:

    where there is will there is way

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