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What Kind of Online Activist Are You?

This article was originally published on the Hasbara Toolbox I launched in partnership with other professionals in the Israel Advocacy field.


What’s happening on the ground in Gaza has a direct impact on what’s happening on our social media feeds – and vice versa. In order to maintain the support of world leaders, Israel needs to win the hearts and minds of their constituents abroad. So, how do we fight the battle for Israel’s global image on the digital battlefield? There are many types of “keyboard warriors” fighting for Israel around the world. What kind are you? Here are some tips for how you can advocate for Israel in the most effective way possible.

THE “QUALITY OVER QUANTITY” WARRIOR

You don’t need a lot of time, creative talent, or followers to advocate for Israel online. In this case, the best thing you can do is dedicate anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour every day to amplify pro-Israel posts and prevent the spread of anti-Israel content. You can identify pro and anti-Israel posts using a tool, such as www.wordsofiron.com, or you can manually search for posts using relevant hashtags and keywords.

When you find positive content that supports your narrative, especially on the platforms of digital influencers or celebrities, you can either Like, Comment and/or Share it. Each level of activity has a corresponding level of impact:

  1. Like – Liking a post boosts its popularity to other users and sends a message of support to the person who posted positively. This is especially important for celebrities and influencers, so they know that the risk they’re taking to support Israel – a very controversial topic for many – is justified.

  2. Like + Comment – Adding a comment sends an even stronger message to the algorithm to promote the post. It’s important to write something personal, as opposed to just a hashtag or emoji, even if it is a short, generic message that you copy and paste on many posts.

  3. Like + Comment + Share – Sharing the post is the highest level of online interaction, and it expands its reach, both within your own network and beyond. Add your own text, preferably with a call for others to like, comment, share, or take some other action that supports the cause. When many people engage with a post simultaneously, the algorithm understands that it’s going viral and promotes it further.

When you come across negative content, including fake news or anti-Israel and anti-Semitic posts, your job is to make sure it gets the least amount of traction possible.

  1. Ignore it – Do not like, comment, share, or engage with the content in any way, even with a comment that denounces it or explains why it is wrong. Any engagement sends a message that this content is worth pushing, which ultimately serves the other side.

  2. And report it – Every platform has a clear way to report content that is offensive, false, violent, or inappropriate. Alternatively, you can use the Israeli-made tool, Digital Dome, which allows you to quickly and easily report harmful posts.

  3. Ask others to report it – Send the link in a private message to your network, asking others to report it as well. If many users report the same post simultaneously, the platform is more likely to rule that it violates community guidelines and remove it, or even block the poster.

THE “GREAT DEBATER” WARRIOR

Social media platforms are exploding with anti-Israel content that is false, hateful, and provocative. This can be especially frustrating if you are more knowledgeable about the subject than the poster! What should you do in this situation?

  1. Ignore it – Don’t get into a public debate, whether it’s in the comment section, in a group, or on X. Again, the more you engage with a post, the more it will be promoted.

  2. Go private – If you can’t hold back or think there’s a chance you may be able to influence the poster, invite them into a conversation in a private message. For this to be productive, use non-combative language and give them space to express their perspective. For more tips on how to effectively engage in an online debate, check out our online course, “Influence Without Authority,”

THE “CALL OUT THE HATERS” WARRIOR

Some of the haters are so shameful that they make our blood boil. They hide behind personas and stories that “soften” their messages, but in fact that are promoting pure evil. With people like that, who should be called out for what they represent and who they are supporting, it is important not to let that negative conversation stick to Israel. Think long term – long after the war is over, we will want people to have more positive associations with Israel than negative, so while we need to call out haters, we need to remember not to harm the long term reputation of Israel in the process.

You can do that by highlighting the fact that these haters are supporting rape as warfare, murder, pillaging, and everything that is bad in the world. You can shine a spotlight on how bad Hamas really is, and say that they are supporting them. You don’t have to connect it directly to Israel: these peoples’ direct or indirect support for the actions of October 7 – by itself – is worse than their hate for Israel!


THE “CONTENT CREATOR” WARRIOR

If you are creative, talented, and tech savvy, use your skills to create original memes, videos, images, and infographics that are proven to have greater impact and reach than other types of content. Make sure your content sends the right message and is as share worthy as possible.

Here is a story arc that outlines how to craft a compelling narrative for your audience.



For more tips, check out this article with Do’s and Don’ts for content creation. Once your content is on point, connect with organizations that can help distribute it more widely, such as Hasbaraa.com.


THE “TARGETED ACTIVIST” WARRIOR

Our target audience is the silent majority of people in the Western world who have not chosen a side in the conflict because they don’t know or care enough to form an opinion. You can reach this audience by posting subtle and relatable content in subject-specific online communities, including Facebook groups, online forums and discussion groups and commenting on the walls of Influencers who focus on a particular area of interest.

For example, if you’re a member of a Facebook group for moms, write a personal post about children being held hostage and invite other mothers to join in praying for their safety. If you’re part of an online forum for music lovers, share the stories of the victims and hostages kidnapped from the music festival, and call on all music lovers to demand that Hamas frees the hostages taken from that event. If you’re a businessperson, choose one of the hostages who is in the same industry as yours, and post on LinkedIn about that person.


THE “INFLUENCER FOLLOWER” WARRIOR

Whether they are famous in the world of entertainment, literature, or politics, every celebrity seems to have an opinion on the conflict. Thanks to their status and popularity, their posts have the ability to impact many others.

If you come across an influencer who supports the Palestinian cause:

  • Send a private message – Tell the influencer that you’re disappointed with their response and will unfollow them, despite years of support. Do not post a comment on their public wall, as this will only amplify their posts. Keep your message short and to the point. For example:

“Hi, I’ve been following you for years and I really love everything about you. It’s amazing how you’re using your influence to support the plight of the Palestinians, definitely a worthy cause. But wow, it’s so disappointing to me that you won’t do the same for the 240 hostages a terrorist organization is holding captive. Babies, women, old people. I can’t follow you any more if that’s not something you think merits your support as well, I thought you were better than that. #unfollow

  • Encourage your network to do the same – While an influencer may not care if they lose one follower, if they see that many of their followers disagree with their stance, they are more likely to rethink their position – or at least stop posting damaging content.

If you see posts from pro-Israel influencers:

  1. Engage – Like, comment, and share their posts widely, and encourage your friends to do the same around the same time as you’re doing it, so it goes viral.

  2. Support – Send them a private message thanking them for their support with lots of heart emojis so they feel the love, and encourage them to keep being an active voice.

If you notice that an influencer you follow has not expressed an opinion:

  1. Push them – Reach out to the silent celebrities, athletes, politicians, CEOs of major companies, and leaders of cultural and educational institutions, encouraging them to support our cause. Remember not to call them out publicly, it will embarrass them and have the opposite effect.

  2. Make it personal – Your plea will be most effective if you keep your message humanitarian and make it matter to them personally. For example, encourage a singer to dedicate a song in memory of a victim who was a fan, ask an athlete to speak out on behalf of a hostage who supports their team, or ask a business leader to post about a kidnapped child who is the same age as their child.


TO CONCLUDE…

No matter who you are or how many followers you have, there is a way for you to be an effective advocate for Israel online. Israel needs your support – not only for the sake of its reputation, but to gain sympathy from the people who ultimately impact whether or not world leaders will continue to support Israel with the resources it needs to rescue the hostages, eradicate terrorism, and protect its citizens.

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