For once, it’s not about Israel

The Promise

We always try to look at the bright side in everything and right now, the world needs hope more than ever. We'll get through these challenging times together! Here's something we put together just for that - we hope you'll like it, and join us in sharing the promise of tomorrow.Creative concept and video by Natie and Eitan Chitayat - special thank you to all of you who helped us source content and permissions, there are too many of you to thank in person, but you know who you are!*Credit list in the first comment.

פורסם על ידי ‏‎Vibe Israel‎‏ ב- יום שישי, 24 באפריל 2020

Why don’t they write about all the great things Israel does to help Syrian refugees?”, “How come the world never pays attention when Israel is doing something good?”, “If only the world knew about all the positive activism there is in Israel!” 

Have you ever found yourself asking such questions? I know I have, and that’s what led me to dedicate my life in the last 10 years to making sure that the world knows Israel’s true, multi-faceted story. When I established my nonprofit, Vibe Israel, the intention was – and remains – to energize and inspire the next generation about Israel (Jews and non-Jews alike). Fast forward 10 years, I certainly feel we’ve started to make a difference (along with other, like-minded organizations), and this continues to be a passion project for me, as a lot more work remains to be done.

But now there’s a gamechanger: The coronavirus pandemic. Suddenly, it’s not about Israel, it’s about every country, including Israel. The video above is something we put together to express that notion: Israel is featured in it, but it is one country out of many, and we all matter. After watching (and hopefully sharing!) it, please come back and read the rest of this article.

I believe that for anyone who is invested in improving Israel’s image, there are three universal lessons to be learned from the Corona pandemic:

Firstly, the coronavirus is here to teach us that we are all one. In March, Shari Arison posted on Facebook that Corona shows us that it doesn’t matter what background we came from, it doesn’t matter which religion we belong to, it doesn’t matter what country we are from, or our gender, culture, color, beliefs, etc. This virus came to teach us that we are all one”. Applying this thinking to Israel’s promotional efforts, now is the time to recognize that we are not stand-alone, fighting against the world; we are part of the community of nations, and we are all in this together. To this end, while Israel has a lot to offer right now, we can’t make it just about us and boast about the inventions Israelis have come up with to counter COVID-19 or create videos about how resilient we are as a nation, to inspire others. Rather, we should extend a (gloved) hand to the world to share this moment, because in doing so, we are sure to gain new friends.

Secondly, the virus is teaching us that there is global empathy, even where you least expect it. We are seeing burials in Iran and feeling their pain, even though on a daily basis Israelis feel threatened by Iran. We’re deeply touched by the little Chinese girl wanting to hug her mother but can’t; we’re singing with Italians on balconies and clapping with Spaniards for the hospital cleaning staff; our hearts go out to all New Yorkers, not because they’re Jewish, but because what they’re going through right now. We’re inspired by leaders like the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Finland, or royal family members, like Sweden’s Princess Sofia who donned scrubs to help the health care workers. And, in turn, the world identified with the Israeli mother who went on a rant about distance learning, leading Sharon Stone and Victoria Beckham to repost something so authentically Israeli. That sense of global solidarity is entirely new and worth noting.

Thirdly – and most importantly – it’s not about Israel, and that’s actually a good thing! Never before in human history has the global media been focused on one singular topic for this length of time and to this extent (remember – major global events weren’t accompanied in the past by social media at this level). More importantly, never before in Israel’s history has it had the chance to share its story with the world without naysayers trying to get in the way. Like it or not, since January 2020, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become a non-issue. The Coronavirus is overshadowing every other story, and this is a huge opportunity for Israel to shine, because we’re doing so much (as we always do – but nobody cares to pay attention). Anyone promoting Israel today for the first time has a level playing field to act in, and act we should, now more than ever! But let’s leave who’s right and who’s wrong in the Conflict aside, and focus on what the world is interested in right now – how we all come through this historical moment in time, together.

About the Author
Joanna Landau was born in London and moved to Israel with her family when she was 5 years old. She read law at Cambridge University where she gained BA and MA degrees. Joanna also holds an MBA, cum laude, from the Herzlia Interdisciplinary Center in Israel. Joanna worked as a lawyer in the high-tech industry and established two Internet start-ups based in Tel Aviv. In 2009, Joanna founded Vibe Israel, to change the way people think and feel about Israel, and has been leading it ever since. Joanna is a governor of Tel Aviv University, and a member of the International Education Committee of Taglit-Birthright. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Rappaport Prize for a Change Making Woman, and in 2017, Joanna was listed by Forbes Israel as one of the fifty most influential women in Israel. She lives in Tel-Aviv with her husband and three children.
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