Arab blogosphere: "We stopped saying Israel and say IsraHell"

Activists and artists from the Arab online community outraged by Israel’s actions in its recent war on Gaza has since January been running an online campaign under the slogan “We stopped Saying Israel and Say IsraHell”. But, it’s a campaign that has also stirred a growing number of critics.
The IsraHell campaign has expanded to internet radio. © IsraHell Radio

BEIRUT, February 18, 2009 (MENASSAT) - According to grassroots blog aggregator Global Voices, on January 9 a Tweet initiative on the popular micro blogging site Twitter was started by user Sarah El-Sherif that called for the online renaming of the Israeli state to "IsraHell."

It was a response to the 23-day Israeli onslaught of the Gaza Strip, and the cause has since been ballooning in the Arab blogoshpere.

Shortly after El-Sherif's post on Twitter, Syrian blogger Alloushar offered his views on the idea, writing in a blog post that “reality says that it's Israhell and not Israel.”

" What's the best translation for this new term? Should we say Israhell (Israel+Hell) or Isravil (Israel+Evil)? Maybe Hell Entity is the best translation. Israel committed the……dirtiest actions…..and this really shook our Arab identity," Alloushar wrote.

Several designers have produced controversial art work for the campaign on the site DeviantArt, calling for the boycott of “IsraHell."

Expectedly, the designs left room for discussion and debate.

User Arkangel Julf responded to designer Hamoud’s “IsraHell” artistry, urging the designer to act more responsible and not judge an entire country for the actions of some people.
“Your thoughts and opinions are your own. But this is not an appropriate place to voice these opinions. Freedom of speech is only just until it's used to hurt others. Not all of Israel is behind their militarist's decisions. Don't scorn an entire country for the actions of a few,” he wrote.

Apart from the campaign on DeviantArt, a number of designers have also come together to support Gaza through art on the site “Art Intifada” where they pose staunch criticism towards Israel for the recent atrocities in Gaza.

“What Israel Wants to Hide from the world ? What Israel is too afraid from the world to know ? What Israel is too afraid from the world to See ?!,” read a comment on the site posted in February.

Since the start of the campaign, online hits for the search word “IsraHell” have been climbing steadily.

The joint Egyptian/ Saudi/Syrian blog “Israeli Crimes Against Humanity”, currently suspended by Wordpress for allegedly violating the site’s Terms of Service, reported prior to its shut down that an online search for “IsraHell” on January 15 produced about 117.000 hits.

A Google search today on “IsraHell” results in around 124,000 hits, including the site for a radio station calling itself “IsraHell Radio.”