MY WORD: Lost and found

Social media can be used for something positive, like reuniting pets with owners, or to cause harm.

DOGS SIT with spectators watching a night-surfing competition in Ashdod last month (photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)
DOGS SIT with spectators watching a night-surfing competition in Ashdod last month
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)
In the wee hours of the morning the other day I was searching for a parrot. Virtually, that is. As the owls ruled the night skies outside I was desperately trying to find a Facebook posting about Charlie, who had disappeared from his home in Netanya, leaving his owner feeling “like he’d lost a child.”
The search was on after I came across an announcement in a different group that a parrot had been found in Ashdod, not so far as the bird flies. The tame parrot could talk, but not enough to give its own address.
Hence, I was struggling to reconstruct where I’d seen the first item and put the two in touch. As I write these lines, I still don’t know whether my efforts helped facilitate a reunion, but I don’t think of it as wasted time.
At 1:30 a.m., there were probably better things I could have been doing – sleeping or finishing the book I was reading – but I was hooked.
The previous day, I’d helped reunite a lost dog and its owner, also by coming across lostand- found announcements on two Facebook pages.
I hadn’t intended to spend time on this, but in that typical social media way, one thing kept leading to another, and I ended up being a member of several groups set up to bring pets and their owners back together.
During my surfing, I came across a lot of sob stories – my heart goes out to the owners of a miniature pinscher mix who have flooded the Web and my neighborhood with pleas for help in finding Punchie.
I have also seen the joyous look of dog owners hugging their pets on their return, in some cases weeks after they disappeared.
Watching YouTube clips of cats being clever or silly can be hypnotically relaxing, but bringing about the return of a prodigal pet seems to me a better use of the social media.
I’ve even started using Facebook’s new “love” emoticon when I read about a happy ending.
I’m aware that the social media can be used in the opposite way – to cause harm.
Since the murder of coexistence activist Richard Lakin in a terror attack on a Jerusalem bus in October, his son, Micah Lakin Avni, has dedicated a huge amount of time and effort in trying to raise awareness of the incitement and hate on the social media, which includes instruction manuals on how to stab a person to lethal effect.
It’s not just ISIS.
The Palestinian Authority publishes paeans to the “martyrs” (and supports their families), including the murderer of American tourist and USAF veteran Taylor Force this week, while Hamas recently released yet another slick video staging the blowing up of an Egged bus, both a threat and a promise to hurt as many Israeli civilians as possible.
It’s not a threat I’d take lightly.
Its terrorism sponsor state, Iran, this week tested two ballistic missiles with the slogan written in Hebrew on the sides stating: “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.”
On Tuesday, apart from the stabbing spree in which Force was killed and 12 people were wounded, there were two more terrorist attacks, one in Jerusalem, the other in Petah Tikva. (Please note, we’re not talking about “settlements” here, as if that were some kind of excuse. The terrorists are carrying out attacks where they can and their victims include Jews, Muslims and Christians.) The following day, terrorists struck uncomfortably close to home. Or worse: Close to my son’s school, shortly after his school bus had gone by.
It is not normal, or should not be normal, to start your day in the knowledge that your child missed a shooting incident by minutes.
Nonetheless, I checked my watch, sighed and decided there was no point in calling him.
The school’s soothing SMS, sent shortly afterwards, is also not something we should get used to: “Good morning, dear parents: Everything is tranquil and calm by us. Hoping for a continued peaceful day.....”
It took me a minute to realize that had this been the US, thousands of children would have been in a lock-down in their schools.
I was reminded of the summer of 2014, when my son was on a trip to the North while rockets were being launched from Gaza on the South and Jerusalem. I can be accused of many things, but helicopter parenting is not one of them. I didn’t even try to call. By the time he came home, we’d been at war for four days.
I don’t know if it’s a healthy response or not, but given the frequency of terrorist incidents (and wars), it’s the only practical one.
Give a hug. Offer support. Find some light relief. Move on.
The comic relief this week was provided by the “guitar hero” in the beachfront Jaffa attack – 26-year-old busker Yishay Montgomery – who bashed the terrorist on the head using what first came to hand. He has since been inundated with requests for interviews and gifts of replacement guitars.
He joins the legends of those who have repelled terrorists in recent months using makeshift weapons such as an umbrella, a shopping cart, a selfie stick and nunchucks.
When I traveled on a bus with a curtain rail I’d just bought, I could feel fellow passengers wondering if I wasn’t taking things too far.
Yonatan Azriahav from Petah Tikva also earned 15 minutes of fame this week for removing the knife with which he’d been stabbed and using it to kill his attacker.
Yediot Aharonot’s Yoaz Hendel on March 9 said, “After six months, it’s time to give it its real name: The third intifada.”
I think it’s part of something even larger and more sinister: A third world war that started on September 11, 2001.
It’s likely that this week’s surge was spurred by the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden, but that’s not the cause.
Talk of a renewed diplomatic effort to reach a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians does not help. The Israel-Palestinian dispute is not the heart of the problem.
Putting pressure on Israel won’t stop the massacres in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or throughout Africa. European capitals and American cities won’t be any safer by applying the same clichés and forced solutions to this particular part of the Middle East.
The terrorists who use a knife to try to take the lives of as many people as possible – whose victims include children, the elderly and pregnant women – are not spending their nights searching for lost-and-found pets on the Web. They are watching Islamic State snuff movies and jihadist propaganda.
The Muslim youths who kill are not acting out of frustration, poverty or lack of hope.
They’re acting on the dreams they’ve been sold of martyrs’ heaven.
My son’s school, on the other hand, after sending the calming SMS to the parents, gave the pupils a strong message not to take the law into their own hands.
My advice, which I’ve shared before, is: Take a Krav Maga or similar self-defense course, in which you’ll discover that a punch on the nose or the Adam’s apple is more effective than smashing a musical instrument on an attacker.
Take a first-aid course, in which you’ll learn that you shouldn’t remove a knife from a wound, even if you have the understandable urge to turn it on your assailant.
Study Arabic, so that you’ll realize that you’re not surrounded by terrorists but by ordinary people with the same worries you have.
Adopt a dog (and a cat): You’ll feel safer and enjoy companionship. There are lots of homeless animals looking for a family to love and protect.
Find the good things in life – they far outnumber the bad.
And if on the way you find Charlie, Punchie or any of their missing friends, do your best to get them back to their owners. They’re out there, waiting for good news.

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