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‘Could use any optimism we can get,’ says Israel’s cyber sentinel Hillel Fuld

Social media is not an echo chamber, and “people should not underestimate their ability to impact and influence people,” Fuld told JNS.

Hillel Fuld. Credit: Courtesy.
Hillel Fuld. Credit: Courtesy.

About 250,000 accounts follow Hillel Fuld across his social media, making him quite a sought-after figure. Nonetheless, the vocal Zionist and evangelist for the Israeli technology sector appears to have found a way to remain grounded. He often posts photos of himself—his tefillin peeking out from under the maroon atarah, or collar, of his tallisnoting that his first meeting of the day is with “the CEO.”

Since Oct. 7, Fuld has shifted gears dramatically. He previously consulted with major technology companies, including Google and Oracle. In 2016, Forbes called him “the man helping transform Startup Nation into Scale-up Nation.” Now he has a strong focus on fighting lies about Israel and Jews on social media.

“I’m not on anyone’s payroll,” Fuld told JNS, over the phone and on Zoom from his home in Israel, of his new job. “For the most part, it has sustained itself because people are very helpful. I’m all in on this. I’m not touching tech right now.”

Fuld told JNS that he has help—from people he declined to name—with his fact-checking of anti-Israel posts. When media outlets reported widely on Oct. 18 that Israel had struck Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, Fuld quickly dispelled the rumors, getting “millions of hits” and, he said, playing a part in countering Hamas’s narrative.

Hillel Fuld and Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer (along with the late Steve Jobs). Credit: Courtesy.

‘They need information’

Fuld told JNS that he sees part of his mission as spreading hope and optimism.

“We are all devastated and in mourning. We could use any optimism we can get,” he said. “Inspiring stories and things like that. Those are the things I’m focused on.” (Fuld and his family know about mourning; a terrorist murdered his older brother, Ari Fuld, at Gush Etzion Junction in 2018.) 

Hillel Fuld has thought deliberately about whom he wants to reach—and whom he doesn’t—on social media.

He told JNS he isn’t too concerned by the “crazies”—the “Heil Hitler folks, as he quips—because “I’m not going to get through to them.” Those who are already pro-Israel are already convinced but “need reinforcement and strengthening and ammunition,” he said. “More accurate information [and] the ability to debunk lies and answer questions.”

He also knows that he has followers who are critics of the Jewish state but who have integrity, and “are willing to hear, listen and see the other side.”

Hillel Fuld T-Shirt Black-and-White
Hillel Fuld. Credit: Courtesy.

“They need that information, and they need to know that the side that hates Israel is feeding them propaganda,” he said.

Fuld said that although he’s not one to give up on things (or people), he has pretty much written off Generation Z, those who were born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s.

“When a person with no guilty conscience and no hesitation shares things that are just absolutely insane with zero basis in reality, how do you debate that?” he posed to JNS. “When someone says Israel is harvesting organs and drinking Palestinian blood, how do you explain to them that Israel is a democracy and a diverse country? We aren’t talking the same language.”

With infinite resources, he would try to convince each member of Gen Z. “But it’s always an issue of limited resources,” he said. “I don’t have much hope to be totally honest with you.”

‘Ability to impact and influence people’

The disappointment with Gen Z isn’t restricted to just Israel. Fuld noted that many have praised Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden on TikTok. “I don’t know that there is any hope for the people who believe that bin Laden is a righteous man,” Fuld said.

But then the optimism kicks in. Besides writing checks for Israel or attending rallies, Fuld thinks that being a truth ambassador—with colleagues, friends or on social media—is a good step.

“Everyone can do something,” he told JNS. “One of the biggest misconceptions about social media is that I’m in my echo chamber. I’m talking, but who is following me on Facebook? People who already agree with me? But it’s just not true.”

Ari Fuld
Ari Fuld. Credit: Courtesy of the Fuld family.

When someone shares something that Fuld shared on social media, the other person’s followers see it, too. “I’m out of my echo chamber,” he said. “I don’t have access to those people. People should not underestimate their ability to impact and influence people.”

Everyone can use their abilities to influence others, he thinks. “It’s important that everyone should use their platform,” he said.

And then, in the ultimate optimism, he echoed Rabbi Akiva’s laughter—as his colleagues wept—upon seeing a fox emerge from the inner sanctum of the Temple in Jerusalem. Just as the rabbi figured that the fulfillment of sad prophecies foretelling the desecration of the Temple Mount suggested that happy prophecies would come true as well, Fuld looks to small miracles, like rockets falling in empty places or being neutralized by the Iron Dome air-defense system.

“I try to remind people that we will dance again,” he said. “That’s my message for people that I speak to.”

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