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The Israel-Hamas conflict tears apart Chicago’s biggest Facebook moms group

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JTA — The tens of thousands of Chicago mothers in a private Facebook group called MamaHive typically post about sleepless babies, strollers and playgroups.

But on Sunday night, with the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza entering its second week, a post went up that broke the mold.

“We, the admins of MamaHive Chicago, take a strong stance against the terroristic acts being committed against the Palestinian people,” the post said. “Anyone appearing to justify the occupation, genocide and apartheid that is taking place will be immediately removed. If you feel in any way supportive to those committing these heinous acts, please feel free to remove yourself.”

Within minutes, tensions flared in the comments. In one heated exchange, after a Jewish mother compared the group to Hamas and said she would quit, another mother called her a “genocide lover.” In response, the Jewish mother wrote “go f–k yourself terrorist!” followed by an emoji of an obscene gesture.

Within hours, two of the founding mothers, one Jewish, had been ousted and dozens of other Jewish members were kicked out or quit in protest. And within days, the woman who posted the comment faced professional consequences, while online, the 42,000-member group had effectively imploded, making MamaHive the latest Facebook community to collapse spectacularly over political issues unrelated to its stated purpose.

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“This group was about having a safe, supportive, resource-rich forum for parents to talk about their experience of parenting,” Alina Slotnik, one of the group’s founders, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “It was meant to be inclusive and always welcoming, and it breaks my heart that somebody would create a politically or religiously based litmus test for this group.”

Slotnik, who is Jewish, found herself at the center of the conflict in the moms’ group late Sunday night, as tensions around the Middle East conflict ran high in Chicago. Earlier that day, a major pro-Palestinian march drew thousands of protesters downtown, and a smaller group gathered in Skokie, a heavily Jewish suburb. There, two people broke a synagogue window and affixed a Free Palestine sign to its door in an incident that police have labeled a hate crime.

That night, Dana Hamed, a Palestinian mother and makeup artist from suburban Chicago who is one of the moderators of MamaHive, gave a heads-up to the rest of the moderators that she had an idea for a post. She shared a post that she had published on Jan. 7, the day after the Capitol siege, declaring MamaHive to be unwelcoming to supporters of treason, and wrote, “Hey guys, I would like to make a post like this but for the genocide occurring in Palestine right now. Just giving a heads up in case it ruffles some feathers.”

Protesters walk after a rally that was held in solidarity with Palestinians, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Joshua Housing)

Six fellow administrators, about half the group, soon “liked” her post, and at least one wrote, “I support you,” according to screenshots from the group that JTA obtained from multiple sources. Shortly afterward, the post to the complete group went live.

Hamed was thinking not just about the Jan. 6 insurrection but about another episode........

© The Times of Israel

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