I am a veteran player of FarmVille on Facebook and I often find myself defending the game when former players complain about the problems that continue to plague it. The game is owned by Zynga, who have released a number of online games that use the Facebook platform.
In the midst of the latest Israeli attacks on Gaza, Zynga has introduced a new option to celebrate Hanukkah in FarmVille. Whatever the general merits of including a Jewish festival in a game that supposedly is international and non-partisan,, the timing is extremely inappropriate.
Although the so-called 'Jewish State' does not have the support of all Jews and despite the fact that almost a century of a policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide towards the native Arab population has not succeeded in making it a 'wholly Jewish State', the world in general does associate menorahs and Hanukkah with Israel.
Gaza has suffered under the onslaught of the Israeli military machine as well as a brutal siege for far more than a week. She has endured the siege for almost 2000 days and 'targeted assassinations', aka acts of murder that almost always include 'collateral damage' in the form of the slaughter of children and other civilians, are nothing new. Nonetheless, at a point in time when the barrrage against the people of Gaza in the space of less than a week has resulted in over 150 deaths (at least 30 of them children and 3 of them journalists) and almost a thousand injuries as well as untold destruction of property, how can an online farming game that has users throughout the globe place itself in a position where it is perceived to support the Israeli State in these policies?
People may think this is a minor matter in view of the real death and destruction that is occurring in Palestine and I would agree, except that media propaganda ALWAYS plays a part in maintaining the blindfolds over the eyes of much of the general public. Barack Obama certainly knows better and his outrageous statement that 'there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders' demonstrated his blatant disregard of the facts about the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. On the other hand, the attacks by the Israeli military machine actually are no different from Obama's own strategy in his spurious 'war on terror'. Obama believes that there can be 'no safe haven' for anybody the U.S. or evidently the Israeli State designates as an enemy opposed to the combined American/Israeli political interest. Unfortunately, he appears to be blind to the fact that Israeli interests are NOT American interests in fact but are detrimental to the continuing security of the United States as well as world peace.
Zynga may not know better, but I believe those who play Zynga games have a responsibility to bring this matter to its attention. I expect that the 'Festival of Lights' daily gift-giving posts probably were conceived as a sort of filler between the Thanksgiving gift project and one that is scheduled for Advent and Christmas. Even if the 'Jewish State' were not engaged in a draconian attack on the Palestinian people, however, I would question Zynga's judgement in embracing Jewish festivals when there never has been ANY recognition of Islam. I am not entirely certain but I do not think Zynga has given any recognition whatsoever to any other religions apart from Christianity.
Much of the world is Christian but Jews are a small minority in numerical terms, a far smaller percentage of the world population than Muslims, Buddhists or Hindus. Furthermore, Christmas celebrations in FarmVille tend to be secular in nature, including such icons as Santa Claus or Father Christmas and Rudolph the Reindeer rather than the Holy Family. The 'Feast of Lights' celebration, on the other hand, cannot be construed as anything but Jewish, as the gifts are such items as menorahs and dreidls. It bothers me that we are expected to pretend that all is Jewish Light and Joy at a time when the Israelis are pounding the Palestinian people into the dust. I always felt that farming games like FarmVille can be a positive influence in bringing people of disparate political and social opinions together as 'Neighbours' but when Zynga decides to celebrate Jewish principles at a time when the Jewish State is committing acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide, FarmVille takes on a more sinister significance.
I call upon Zynga to wirthdraw this particular celebration or change it so that it embraces a wider group than one that is associated unfortunately currently with a brutal Occupation of a native population and an attack this week that is killing more children and civilians than any one who could be considered a 'terrorist' by any rational definition.