When I began posting messages to Facebook and Twitter on Monday morning asking
for comments from pet owners whose dogs and cats were experiencing trauma in the
South, I did not expect to be called unprintable names and even have at least
three people call for my death.
On both sides of the Gaza border,
children and their families are suffering — sometimes even dying. Tragedy has
struck each of the populations, particularly those too young to even understand
the gravity of the situation and just want to be back in school, playing in
parks without a constant need to duck their small heads.
While you cannot
compare children’s deaths or even wartime anxiety to a canine’s jitters,
exploring how Israel’s dogs and cats are faring unveils a slice of life on the
home front. As a reporter who regularly covers animal issues, looking at their
situation during troublesome times seemed fitting, and still
Journalists reach out on Twitter and Facebook for articles all the
time, so this was a natural path to take when seeking out pet owners.
I simply did not consider the fact that I was opening myself up to a barrage of
not only ridicule, but also threats.
Throughout the day I received
hundreds and hundreds of hostile comments through social media, many from Gazans
who slammed me for putting the interests of Israeli dogs over their
This could not have been farther from the truth, yet the viral
conversations that ensued provided a sounding board for those bent upon blasting
Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
As I explored the psychological
trauma of the country’s four-legged housemates, I had no intention of catalyzing
political tirades. But this is precisely what occurred.