A Phil Hall Op-Ed: Over the weekend, social media was aflutter with a posting by the Beverly Hills real estate developer Mohamed Hadid, who has 1.3 million Instagram followers. While Hadid is highly respected in the real estate world, a lot of his social media following is from being the father of gorgeous models Gigi and Bella Hadid and a TV star in his own right via flashy appearances on reality television distractions including “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
But Hadid’s posting had nothing to do with Hollywood glitz and glamor. Here is what he felt needed to be shared online:
Hadid’s graphic was not on his Instagram account for very long – he removed it once it started to generate a hostile response. But, of course, nothing disappears forever from the Internet and enough people captured the image to ensure it doesn’t disappear into the digital ether. He has not apologized for what he posted, and I don’t expect the tendering of regrets anytime soon – in fact, much of his recent Instagram postings online are rants about “Zionists” (a code word for “Jews”) and “Occupied Palestine” (which is called “Israel” on the maps of sane people).
Hadid’s concern about the Middle East is deeply personal – his family left their home in Nazareth when he was an infant during the tumult of the 1948 war surrounding the creation of the State of Israel. I wouldn’t be surprised if his private conversations about Israel are more virulent than anything he posts online.
And therein lies the trap of social media into which Hadid blundered. Too many people engage in casually cruel conversations with families and friends that are rich with language designed to demean people based on their nationality, religion, race or whatever aspect of their existence is deemed irritating or worse. But beyond an intimate circle, such petty prejudices mostly stay isolated from the world – after all, the epithets muttered in private don’t generate the same winks and nods from a wider society brought up to appreciate different cultures and experiences.
Or at least they didn’t until recently, when suddenly it became chic in many online channels – and, increasingly, in public settings – for some people to voice a desire about having a world without Jews. And, horribly, the stupid online talk has degenerated into offline violence, ranging from defacing properties with swastikas to threats of killing Jewish students on college campuses. This has metastasized to the point that the White House has directed the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to work with state and local law enforcement agencies to address the new hate on campuses.
Digital technology has made it more convenient to disseminate ugliness to a wider audience, infecting the ignorant at a speed and depth previously unavailable to yesteryear’s hatemongers. And it is not just unknown dum-dums shooting their mouths off, as witnessed by the posting in question here.
I wish that Hadid had put more thought into the posting he shared on Instagram – he did nothing to help alleviate the situation in the Middle East, but he did embarrass his family and his profession with his hateful message. Sometimes, opinions are best left unshared.
Phil Hall is editor of Weekly Real Estate News. He can be reached at [email protected].
Photo of Mohamed Hadid courtesy of his Instagram page.