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I want to fight for Israel. Why won’t anyone let me?

I could work to help sway opinion in my country of origin if only there was a shred of effective Israeli PR there and elsewhere abroad
Photo/Jakob Rubner. Israel Palestine Border.
Photo/Jakob Rubner. Israel Palestine Border.

My name is Giada Condello and as you might have guessed from my surname, I am Italian. However, I am also Israeli and, just to this out of the way, I am not Jewish. I am not Jewish, but I gained Israeli citizenship a couple of years ago because I am married to an Israeli and I’ve chosen to live here. I

really enjoy living in Israel. While this might seem ordinary to you, you can’t imagine the difficulties this statement has caused me at airport security or during conversations with Israeli friends. It’s a red flag. Apparently, an Italian is not supposed to prefer Israel over Italy. Well, surprise surprise, here’s the first one. I am also raising two other hybrids like myself, although dealing with my firstborn might prove more challenging, as he seems to have a strong affinity for skiing and Italian food. Nevertheless, I am working on it.

All joking aside, I am writing this letter because after October 7th I woke up with a sense of urgency and a strong desire to make a difference in the representation of Israel abroad, especially in my home country, Italy. Like everyone else that morning I woke up in a different country and with a different mindset. I was shocked, I was confused, I was angry but I was determined to fight.

With a heavy heart, a few days later, I flew to Italy with my children out of fear that something terrible might happen to them. However, once there, I felt a sense of guilt and helplessness. While my children were safe, my husband, the rest of our family, and all our friends were still in Israel, fighting so we’d be able to come back, eventually.

So, I started to contact everyone I knew. I wanted to help as well. I wanted to counter those who labelled Israel an apartheid country, referred to Israelis as colonizers and Nazis, and spread the other falsehoods you’re likely already familiar with, by presenting facts, history, and images. I managed to find a contact at the Israeli Embassy in Italy. I tried to contact StandWithUs, Act-IL and so many other organizations, Jewish, non-Jewish and famous Journalists. I joined Hasbara WhatsApp groups, Facebook groups, Telegram, Instagram groups, but nothing really happened. Why?

Because it was messy! And still is by the way.

Everyone wants to help, but nobody knows how. There are so many accounts on Instagram, Facebook, and X, but they are not efficient. They aren’t efficient because they are not united, they don’t follow a clear path and they don’t communicate a clear message. There is nobody in Italy who is young, motivated, unlinked to any political party, who understands the current trends and is able to stand up and convey a clear and powerful message.

Why is there such an inability to create a team, educate its members and build a strong strategy? Now more than ever we need that! Our hasbara effort is all over the place, and it has started to make us feel impotent. I keep hearing people saying “their propaganda is too strong,” “they are too many of them,” “they don’t care about facts, they just hate the Jews,” “it’s too late, we’ve already lost this war on social media.” Have we? Did we even start doing it for real before Eylon Levi, Noa Tishby, Hen Mazzig, Hillel Fuld and a few others showed it could be done – and done properly?

Did you know that Israel had a PR campaign called “Masbirim Israel” (explaining Israel) back in 2010?  Its purpose was to recruit Israeli citizens to the task of improving the nation’s public image in the world. I recommend checking out their website to see how successful that was.

Oh right, the website is down. Doesn’t exist. So again, for people like me: Israeli with another citizenship, fluent in a foreign language, deeply aware of how Israel i being represented in their country of origin and highly motivated to change that, there is no opportunity. There is no way to help. In short, it’s too late…

But my problem is that I don’t accept this excuse.

Was it too late in 2010, when the social media era was just beginning? Wasn’t it worth it to actually invest in the strength of people who, like me, wanted to help and knew how to do it, because they were familiar with a specific culture? Wouldn’t Israel’s image be in a different place 14 years later? Aren’t 14 years enough to at least start planning a PR strategy?

I spent two months in Italy after October 7th, and I witnessed firsthand the alarming level of ignorance and misinformation surrounding the events in Israel. It goes beyond the immediate crisis; there seems to be a significant lack of accurate representation and a complete absence of effective Israeli PR in Italy and I am determined to change this narrative.

Italians deserve a more nuanced and accurate understanding of Israel beyond the distorted images portrayed on TikTok, Insta or TV. I believe all the other countries deserve it as well. Because it’s not too late, it wasn’t too late in 2010 and it’s not too late in 2024. And don’t get me wrong, I am aware that our government has other pressing priorities, but I also understand that turning a blind eye to an ongoing parallel war in the digital realm is not the answer. This conflict began long before October 7th and will persist even after our troops leave Gaza. Ignoring or deprioritizing this issue won’t make it vanish. So, we are ready to fight; please provide us with a way to do so. Funding would be a good start!

About the Author
Giada Condello is an Italian professional who decided to move to Israel after falling in love with the city of Tel Aviv and the Israeli chutzpah. Since then, she has been calling Israel her home and she is grateful to be part of a culture that empowers individuals and encourages them to take risks and speak their minds. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in International Development and Cooperation from the University of Bologna and a Master's Degree in Intercultural Cooperation for Development from the University of Trieste.
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