What started as small initiatives during Operations Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge has turned into a well-oiled civilian PR machine; thousands of students in Israel—most of them volunteers—wage a daily, unending battle over Israel’s image online; their new app has thousands of users worldwide who defend Israel online; and you too can lend a hand.
By Reuven Weiss | 27 June 2017
YNET NEWS — In November 2012, while the IDF was fighting Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip and residents in Tel Aviv, Rishon Lezion and Jerusalem suffered rocket fire on their city for the first time, Yarden Ben-Yosef, 29, was a second year law and government student at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC).
During the operation, he encountered a lot of online hostility against Israel, and felt he could no longer sit idly by. He recruited several of his friends from the International School at the IDC, and together they formed a makeshift operations room, where they started commenting on online articles that were slandering Israel and defending the country’s name and actions.
Two years later, during Operation Protective Edge, Ben-Yosef got the team back together and reopened the operations room, where they all—completely voluntarily—lent a hand in the online war of hasbara (public relations).
“People learned of our initiative by word of mouth, then it was also reported on by Yedioth Ahronoth, and more and more students asked to join the effort,” Ben-Yosef remembers. “We had about 1,000 volunteers, most of them students from the IDC, who created pro-Israel PR content in 35 different languages, reaching some 40 million web users.” […]