Sunday, April 02, 2006
Israel advocacy for the elderly
With the pensioners party doing so well at PR to receive so many mandates for the Knesset, it is time perhaps to turn to the elderly for Israel advocacy work.
It appears that anti-Semitism, both on the Internet and in general, is growing daily, and websites rejecting Israel’s right to exist are operating unopposed. Although one cannot hope to extinguish these many flames of hatred, an Israeli initiative is trying to halt their
spread and hundreds of Israel’s elderly have taken on the challenge.
The pensioners, armed with a computer, keyboard and a lot of free time and goodwill, are running a pro-Israel propaganda campaign over the Web. And who knows, maybe the Pensioners Party’s surprising success in the 17th parliamentary elections will further encourage the public relations campaign initiated by the Israel Internet Association in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry.
On Thursday the project held its annual meeting in Jerusalem.
The campaign started two-and-a-half years ago proclaiming its intentions to employ the assets of the mature community (fluency in many languages, life experience, free time and goodwill) in an online public relations campaign.
“The State of Israel, a world leader in the hi-tech industry, has a weak and faltering operation when it comes to public relations on the Internet,” the Israel Internet Association wrote on its website in an effort to recruit the elderly to the project.
“Compared to thousands of pro-Palestinian Websites, there are only a few pro-Israeli websites. Despite their seriousness and depth, they do not put up an adequate fight in the virtual crossfire. It is necessary to create a deluge of Israeli sites that will show up in the top ten of every search engine.”
The flood rains haven’t fallen yet, but numerous elderly volunteers have completed training and have become involved in various aspects of the campaign, including translating PR material to various languages, responding to slanderous articles on-line, and writing personal memoirs to be posted on the Web.
Dotan Samhovitch, the Israel Internet Association’s project coordinator revealed that some 200 pensioners are participating in the program.
Shmuel Borosh, almost 90 years old, was born in Hungary. He had not touched a computer before joining the project, but now he emails regularly with his relatives, who like being updated on what goes on in Israel in order to answer anti-Semitism in Hungary. They also help him translate material into Hungarian.
What has the PR team done thus far? They have launched the "Israel Timeline" site, which boasts numerous articles translated by the volunteers into various languages containing information on Israel. The "Israel Technology" site exhibits the country’s successes in the hi-tech industry.
The volunteers also participate in writing a group blog called Land of Israel Stories, in which they relate personal tales of Israel throughout its history, in various languages.
“The site allows participants in the project to attain high quality information and materials in case of need, in order to present Israel to a public that doesn’t like us or doesn’t know us,” Samhovitch says.