The Hasbara program: a life-changing experience

I am known to be a highly-curious individual who enjoys exploring new topics. I am also very passionate about any topic related to Israel. Hence, when I was given the opportunity to join the Hasbara Fellowships Israel Advocacy Internship program, I was intrigued by what they had to offer. I knew it would be a life-changing experience that would allow me to combine many of my various interests. Although I am still in the middle of the Hasbara Fellowships experience, I have already learned countless new advocacy strategies in addition to having the privilege to advocate for Israel, a lifelong dream of mine.  

In order to have a better idea of what the Hasbara Fellowships program entails, it would be best to provide a little taste of what is expected from a Hasbara intern. Each month, students attend webinars featuring expert speakers and discuss various subjects such as: United Nations, media bias, social media, lawfare, indigeneity, BDS, and antisemitism. During these webinars, not only do we have the privilege of listening to well-known speakers sharing their experiences and knowledge with us, we also learn relevant information that can be applied to our day to day lives and advocacy. We also complete five different tasks that allow us to put our new skills into practice, such as attending Israel-related events, writing blog posts, creating social media posts & responding to anti-Israel posts, and host an event for our peers.

As a religious Jewish student in a secular school for the first time, I no longer get to learn about Israel and Jewish topics at school. Fortunately, taking part in the Hasbara Fellowships program has allowed me not only to advocate for Israel, but also to share my passion with others. To fulfill one of my Internship requirements, I presented a virtual presentation during my humanities course on the topic of Israeli Medical Ethics and Advancements. In this presentation, I discussed Israel’s healthcare system, recent medical advancements, medical NGOs, and several other relevant subjects. This presentation allowed me to advocate for Israel in one of my classes in a non-Jewish school, something I never thought I would have the opportunity to do. My classmates’  and teachers’ response to my presentation was definitely not what I expected. Instead of having negative misconceptions about Israel and asking biased questions, they had a very positive attitude and were amazed by Israel’s medical advancements. 

It is an honor to partake in the Hasbara Fellowships program since this experience has taught me how to advocate for Israel, and I have also had the chance to learn many other skills that can be applied in my day to day life. To all students out there that are passionate about Israel, I strongly recommend this incredible experience since not only do you get to advocate for Israel which is a dream come true, you also get to know other people from around the world that share the same passions as you, learn new things and lastly get to share your knowledge with others which is certainly the best thing of all.

About the Author
Sarina Petel is currently completing her studies at Vanier College in the Health Science program. In addition to completing her college studies, she is currently completing a Hasbara Fellowships Israel Advocacy Internship. During her free time, she enjoys volunteering in order to give back to her community, helping others as well as, doing extracurricular activities.
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