As the search continues for Eyal Yifrcah, Gil-Ad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel, the three yeshiva students kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists Thursday night, the social media campaign to raise awareness for the three missing boys has inspired hope and prayers in the global community.
Launched by the University of Haifa Ambassadors Network, the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys has gone viral, receiving up to 2,800 tweets per hour according to hashtag.org, a media analytics website.
The campaign is a reference to a similar initiative launched earlier this year, “Bring Back Our Girls,” which aimed to increase global awareness of the fate of approximately 230 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria.
Organizers “wanted to show we must not allow terrorism to abduct children – neither in Nigeria nor in Israel,” said David Gurevich, founder of the Ambassadors Network. “Children deserve life without being kidnapped by terrorists. This simple message connects users from all over the world.”
Unlike its humanitarian and noninflammatory Nigerian counterpart, however, the “Bring Back Our Boys” effort has also generated hostility among some Palestinians, who seek to find equivalency between the prison sentences being served by Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails and the three abducted teenage yeshiva students. Many Palestinian Twitter users call for Israel to “bring back [their] land, refugees, and freedoms,” asserting that the kidnapping pales in comparison to injustices committed by Israel against Palestinians.
Feel the misery of our prisoners,there are thousands of mothers crying over their children everyday #BringBackOurBoys pic.twitter.com/NFNCf1ggEp
The contradictory associations now linking to the “Bring Back Our Boys” name have fostered a hashtag battle waged largely over Twitter and Facebook, while the Palestinian Authority and President Mahmoud Abbas have remained silent. This is despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s public appeal to “the Palestinian Authority and its leader Abbas – from whose area the kidnappers undertook their mission – to aid us in our search operation.”
Nevertheless, Gurevich holds that the campaign has had incredible successes in raising global awareness about the three victims.
“From Fiji to Australia to Russia, responses came in from ordinary people all around the world, because everyone wants to see the kids back. Everyone wants to show that terrorism cannot take kids as a target.”
Furthermore, he noted, “We called politicians, artists, musicians, ambassadors, international people – all agreed with our campaign to oppose terrorism. They all want to bring home the kidnapping victims.”