Reminder: We are not alone

A lone Israeli flag is waved in front of a sea of Palestinian flags at a rally in Los Angeles in 2014. Photo: Rachel Lester
A lone Israeli flag is waved in front of a sea of Palestinian flags at a rally in Los Angeles in 2014. Photo: Rachel Lester

It’s never felt harder to be an Israel advocate than it does right now.

For me, it started a couple of weeks ago when the former spokesperson for the Hostages & Missing Families Forum revealed his belief that Netanyahu is preventing a hostage deal for his own political gain. Then came the headlines about Israel’s possible violations of international law with our use of American weapons in Gaza, despite the State Department report going to great lengths to not make a definitive judgment because they don’t have enough information.

Then, yesterday, extremist Israeli protestors vandalized a humanitarian aid truck and blocked it from going to Gaza, something that outrages me both on obvious moral grounds and because of how bad it makes Israel look. Finally, I found out about the “blockout movement” that is going viral: social media users are blocking celebrities who have been silent about Gaza, or haven’t posted enough for their liking. This act of punishment is meant to reduce the celebrities’ online capital, and by extension, the ad revenue they make from these platforms.

That was when I reached a moment of “I literally can’t even.”

But a few minutes after I expressed my frustration, I got a text from a friend of mine from college. (I graduated seven years ago from USC; you may know it as the school with the anti-Israel valedictorian and the cancellation commencement, but when I was a student, it was a totally apolitical campus.) For context: My friend isn’t Jewish, we share many liberal values, we don’t have mutual friends, and he doesn’t post on social media, so I genuinely had little to no idea where he stood on Israel/Gaza.

He wrote, “on a positive note related to a cancelling of pro-Israel authors, some people are treating it as a shopping list :)” and that there are a lot more pro-Israel people out there than it feels like to me right now, people who are just less loud or hidden by the algorithm.

That did indeed make me feel a little better, and I asked him what his perception of the war has been like, so he called to talk for a few minutes.

He said that he’s very supportive of Israel, that everyone in his circle sees what’s really going on in the world and finds the loud anti-Israel movement to be absolutely crazy. He sees the “pro-Palestinian” trend to be the result of people simply aligning themselves with the side they’ve been told is “oppressed” without knowing the facts. He doesn’t believe anything the Meta algorithm shows him anymore.

He told me that people who create value (his words), meaning, contribute innovatively and financially to the real world, rather than being loud in the social media world, are pro-Israel — even more than seven months into this absolutely soul-crushing PR war (my words).

Most importantly, he said, “you are not alone.”

To be perfectly honest, it wouldn’t have had an impact if I had heard it from a Jewish friend, or if I’d seen the message on my pro-Israel echo chamber on Instagram. I’m sure you understand why. It had an impact because I heard it from a non-Jewish, liberal, American friend who I haven’t seen since before the pandemic and who has no reason to be biased toward Israel.

“You are not alone.”

If there was ever a time in my life when I needed to hear that, it was now.

So, dear reader, if you need to hear it too, here it is:

Social media does not reflect reality. There are more people who support Israel, and fewer people that hate Israel, than it may seem. You are not alone.

We are not alone.

!יום עצמאות שמח

About the Author
Rachel Lester served in the IDF Spokesperson's Unit for four years, creating videos for the IDF's millions of social media followers and running the international video department as creative director. She was called into reserves on October 7 and stayed for six months. Rachel is an alumna of the University of Southern California and holds a Masters in Government from Reichman University.