Shalom Life | April 19, 2015

College Students Wage Social Media Battle Over Israel's Image

An Israeli student initiative called “Israel Under Fire” now boasts more than 57,000 followers on Facebook

By: Alina Dain Sharon

Published: July 17th, 2014 in Business » World

Australia’s Sydney Harbor is up in flames. Large letters superimposed on the scene ask, “How would they react?”

That image and many others like it have been distributed by an Israeli student initiative called “Israel Under Fire,” which now boasts more than 57,000 followers on its Facebook page. While rocket attacks continue from Gaza after Palestinian terrorists’ rejection of a cease-fire brokered by Egypt and accepted by Israel, more than 400 student volunteers are working together from a computer room at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) college and graduate school to present the world with Israel’s position on the ongoing conflict with Hamas.

“We really believe that today the real war takes place on the Internet,” Israel Zari, the student union spokesman at IDC, told JNS.org.

The first Israel Under Fire student operation at IDC was held during Israel’s November 2012 conflict with Hamas, which saw the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conduct Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza. The student initiative was reopened as soon as the IDF launched its current operation, Protective Edge. This time the campaign has its own website, Israelunderfire.com, where the students accumulate all of their information via text, videos, and memes.

Despite their initiative being a private one, Israel Under Fire’s students work in conjunction with guidelines and rules from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

“This is the largest private [media] operations room in Israel,” Zari said. “Our goal is… to present a unified front.”

The students work around the clock in groups. Each group is dedicated to a different skill, such as graphic design and research. There are also many international students who translate the content into various languages.

Given the current situation, the students are currently focusing on promoting the message that Israel “would welcome a cease-fire” and would like “to finish the military operation,” Zari said.


They also want to show that Israel froze its weapons and strikes, “but on the side of Hamas this did not happen, despite all the mediation efforts,” he said.

The students’ posts have included images of the warnings that the IDF sends to Gaza citizens before airstrikes and examples of Israel’s humanitarian efforts, in order to show to the world that Israel’s goal is not to hurt citizens.

On the other side of the media war, Palestinian groups and activists are promoting the opposite perspective. According to Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not personally supporting Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, but Fatah—the movement he heads—is spreading a violent anti-Israel message on Facebook.

In a Tuesday post on the official Fatah Facebook page, “a poster claiming to be from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, called for renewing suicide terror attacks against Israel,” Marcus said.

The post stated, “Today Palestine is waiting for its men… our promise of the [Al-Aqsa Martyrs] Brigades is to cause the enemy to tremble, who only understands the language of blood, bullets, explosive belts and Martyrdom seeking [suicide] actions… We call to perform Martyrdom-seeking actions [suicide attacks].”

Continue Reading on Page 2

Israeli Defense Firm Creates System to Detect Terror Tunnels Israeli Defense Firm Creates System to Detect Terror Tunnels TrendingYou Could Be The Next Goldstar Beer Taste Tester. Seriously. You Could Be The Next Goldstar Beer Taste Tester. Seriously. TrendingThe Kosher Switch May Not Be So Kosher After All The Kosher Switch May Not Be So Kosher After All Trending
 

Netanyahu, Amy Schumer, Sarah Koenig and Others Make TIME's 100 Most Influential People

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Netanyahu, Amy Schumer, Sarah Koenig and Others Make TIME's 100 Most Influential People

Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Diane von Furstenberg, Kevin Hart, Lorne Michaels, and many more make the 12th annual list

Read More

Israeli Defense Firm Creates System to Detect Terror Tunnels

April 17, 2015 | By JNS.org
Israeli Defense Firm Creates System to Detect Terror Tunnels

Elbit Systems developed the new tunnel-detection system together with the Israeli Defense Ministry and other partners in Israel

Read More

Rabbis, Mental Health Professionals Holding Conference to Support Young LGBT Jews

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Rabbis, Mental Health Professionals Holding Conference to Support Young LGBT Jews

Conference to be held in Israel this Sunday will bring Orthodox rabbinical community, and the therapeutic community, together in support of LGBT teens

Read More

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Trip to Israel Cost Them $1 Million

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Trip to Israel Cost Them $1 Million

Mind you, they were only there for a couple days

Read More

Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis

April 17, 2015 | By JNS.org
Hamas to Gazans: Kidnap More Israelis

"Our men, our women, our children [should] always think of kidnapping your soldiers and settlers, wherever they may be"

Read More

You Could Be The Next Goldstar Beer Taste Tester. Seriously.

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
You Could Be The Next Goldstar Beer Taste Tester. Seriously.

The company is need of a new chief beer tester, and is turning to the Israeli public for help

Read More

The Kosher Switch May Not Be So Kosher After All

April 17, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
The Kosher Switch May Not Be So Kosher After All

Marketed as a way to keep kosher during the Shabbat, many rabbinical sources fear the Kosher Switch may rely on a Jewish loophole to keep "kosher"

Read More

David Blatt Has NBA's Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

April 17, 2015 | By Bob Jacob/Cleveland Jewish News/JNS.org
David Blatt Has NBA's Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

"It's a great time to be in the city of Cleveland," says the Israeli Head Coach, whose team squares off against the Celtics on Sunday

Read More

More Headlines