It is no longer a secret that, in our time, every confrontation has two battlefields—the physical and the spiritual. The first is fought with soldiers and armor. The second is fought over hearts and minds, and is a battle over legitimacy that plays out in the media and digital spheres, fought by “computer warriors.”
Social media has become a key weapon in the legitimacy trenches. Today, one tweet or one social media post can have more influence than a thousand articles in the mainstream media. But along with the positive aspects of social media, it has many negative aspects. Any person with a computer and a Facebook or Twitter account can spread lies and deceptions, intentionally or unintentionally.
On these platforms, falsehoods about Israel can multiply in seconds, while the truth takes its time to see the light of day. The voracious appetite for delegitimizing the Jewish state on these platforms, with the end goal of destroying Israel, is only growing.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry understands this challenge, and has been training its people in the field of social media and digital diplomacy. It has expanded its online presence exponentially, and even developed platforms that reach out to the Arab world in Arabic. Some of the Foreign Ministry’s electronic messages have reached more than 500 million people, including the people of Iran in the Persian language. However, messages based on truth and complexity find it hard to compete with simplistic blood libels.
Another way to reach people in the social media world is through “influencers.” The Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles has developed such methods. Thankfully, there are courageous pro-Israel social media influencers who are prepared to expose lies, destroy dangerous distortions and shine a spotlight on the complex reality of Israeli society and the Middle East.
In an effort to elevate and amplify the important voices of these influencers, the Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Southwest partnered this month with the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) California for a morning discussion with two of the most prominent and followed web warriors—Yoseph Haddad and Emily Schrader.
This fearless couple battles furiously against United Nations falsehoods, racist celebrity-fueled campaigns and BDS tropes that proliferate across every corner of social media. Their life experience gives their perspectives indisputable credibility. As Yoseph mentioned, when he tells people that, as an Israeli Arab IDF officer, he had Jewish soldiers under his command, it takes the wind out of their false claims that Israel is an apartheid state. The couple’s impact, as with most influencers, is incalculable. With every tweet, post and image, they expose an unvarnished truth about all the complex and yet inspiring aspects of the State of Israel. They are modern warriors in the legitimacy combat zone.
WIZO California, as a vibrant Zionist organization, has focused not only on Yoseph and Emily, but also other powerful personalities who are courageously fighting in different modern ways to counter anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and BDS. This is the modern Zionism. The fight for the truth, the fight for hearts and minds, often under a barrage of abuse, is a battle for the future of Israel-U.S. relations.
Gina Raphael is Chair of the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) California.