“You know what I love?”, wrote Yari Deborah, member of UCF Knights of Israel. “I love that I get to Skype with Israelis that I’ve never met in person every week, and hear their perspective of what’s happening in Israel – the good news and the bad news.”
This past summer, as a wave of anti-Israel events crossed over U.S. university campuses during “Operation Protective Edge”, the need became clear: the U.S needed a reason to support Israel – especially for the young Jewish American population.
Of course, all research has led us to understand that the best way to connect to Israel is by a visit. Yet, Israel couldn’t have seemed farther away with disturbing news headlines blaring across the media and alarming travel warnings issued by those we trust.
So, why not bring Israel to the U.S digitally? That’s where Tafnit, an Israel advocacy student training program, Hasbara Fellowship, a pro-Israel advocacy organization, and BOMAH, a Jerusalem-based social media branding company came in. Together, these three organizations established the highly successful Israeli Ambassador Program which connected Israeli students with pro-Israel clubs on U.S. college campuses then became the ultimate way to offer on-the-ground real-time personal stories of Israelis during the conflict.
The result? The true story in the purist form – personal relationships.
This is how it went down: First, 15 Israeli students from Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University, and IDC Herzlyiah were given comprehensive training from BOMAH, understanding the ins and outs of popular social network platforms such as Skype, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. These tools became crucial for participants to apply the BOMAH storytelling strategy – tell compelling, personal stories to draw in your audience.
Within just a month, the Ambassador program spread across six different university campuses throughout the U.S. with regular Skype calls and communication online with U.S students from Dartmouth Students for Israel, College of Charleston JSU/Hillel, Northwestern University Hillel, SUNY Buffalo University for Israel, Texas A&M AGGIE Students for Israel, and University of Central Florida Knights for Israel.
Due to the success of the Israeli Ambassador Program, Jewish students in the U.S. have been discussing issues concerning Israel with those who know it best. The students create personal strong relationships and therefore can rely on first-hand factual information giving them confidence as they stand up for Israel.
Tafnit, Hasbara and BOMAH will be expanding the program during the upcoming year, including more U.S. campuses as well as European universities. Moreover, Israeli students from Jerusalem, Haifa, and other cities are eager to join the action.
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”
― John Lennon