Who among us is unaware of the turmoil in Israel? And yet for all we learn about the conflict in Gaza, the amount of incorrect information people are reading and sharing is infuriating.
As I scroll through my Facebook feed, I read reliable posts from the Israel Defense Forces, The Jerusalem Post, and The Israel Project. But I cannot help but read the comments.
There are plenty of comments along the line of “Am Yisrael Chai” and “God Bless Israel.” But there is also an abundance of hate-filled responses and comments stating that Israel is committing “atrocities.” Where are these people getting their misinformation?
This war is a media war, too. Perceptions about Israel and Hamas are shaped by the articles people share on social media sites and reports they view on television. The only way to
win in the court of public opinion is through education. This past fall, I participated in a program called Write On For Israel. The program, sponsored locally by the Community Relations Committee of Greater MetroWest NJ, seeks to educate high school students on how to advocate for Israel through journalism. They tell us about the anti-Israel attitudes we may encounter on a college campus and prepare us to be positive voices for Israel.
I never thought I would use what I’ve learned so soon. Already, I have used my training to try and change the minds of the misinformed. I’ve engaged with people who condemn Israel because so many Palestinians have died compared to so few Israelis. It turns out that they did not know that, without Iron Dome, Israel’s casualties would be much higher. Nor were they aware of all the warnings that Israel gives to Gaza citizens in order to try to protect them.
If education is the key to changing a person’s mind, as supporters of Israel we have a very simple task.
My challenge to you, the reader, is to take action. Do not sit idly by while the numbers of Jews leaving Europe spike again; or while public places are vandalized with swastikas and hateful messages; or while your homeland is being criticized by people who don’t know the truth. Look at the facts, and do your best to help spread the truth.
I am a 16-year-old who loves Israel and who wants his children to one day be able to safely visit the country and learn about their heritage. I am an American teen who was scared to death when he learned his sister, while visiting Israel, had to take shelter from rockets four times, with one exploding right above where she was. I am a high school student who loves social media and will do anything I can to help fight the media war.
Help me to fight the ignorance. Am Yisrael Chai.
Max Kasler is a rising senior at the Academy for Allied Health Sciences, a student of the Write On For Israel program, and the communications vice president for NFTY-GER.