After all the bad news of this week we desperately need some good news to lift our spirits, so here is my latest Good News Friday installment.
With all the hypocrisy and venom that is poured out against Israel in the UN it was a pleasure to read this week of a huge anti-BDS conference held in that self-same UN General Assembly hall:
JTA – It was an incongruous sight: The U.N. General Assembly hall filled to capacity with 1,500 cheering people waving miniature Israeli flags and singing “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem.
No, hell hadn’t frozen over.
The occasion was a one-day conference hosted by Israel’s U.N. mission devoted to fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Jewish state. It turns out any U.N. member state can reserve space at the world body’s headquarters in New York – even the iconic General Assembly hall – for events. On Tuesday, the Israeli mission stacked the seats of the great hall not with delegates representing countries from around the world but with Jews and pro-Israel activists, many of them college students and high school seniors.
The irony of holding a conference to combat BDS at a site notorious for producing lopsided resolutions against Israel was not lost on anyone.
“Look around this room. Look at all the people who came to support Israel,” Danon said. “One day you will tell your children: I was there when we stopped BDS. I stood up when they tried to turn the world against the Jewish state. I was there for Israel.”
The conference was part pep rally and part strategizing session, aimed both at making a statement and educating, motivating and advising pro-Israel activists about best practices to combat BDS on campus and beyond. Aside from speeches, the General Assembly session included a short video message by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a brief live performance by ex-Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu. He sang “Jerusalem” and “One Day,” a ballad about ending war, with his long graying hair wound into a ponytail and one of his young children by his side.
Israel’s anti-BDS strategies were analysed and found wanting by an advertising executive who had some good ideas:
Defensiveness is not effective,” said David Sable, global CEO of Young & Rubicam, an international advertising firm that has done extensive research on Americans’ sentiments about Israel.
“Theirs is a positive message, ours is negative. We’re anti, they’re pro,” Sable, a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces, said of the BDS movement. “We look like a corporate brochure. What they’ve put out is a creative platform for self-expression. If you were a college student, which one would you go for? It’s clear. We got a problem, my friends.”
Sable suggested activists instead focus on winning over the undecideds – those who don’t favor one side or the other in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – with positive messages about Israel that can resonate with young people.
Kol hakavod to Ambassador Danny Danon on his initiative (and his cheeky chutzpah 🙂 ) in organizing this fantastic conference. Let us hope that all the practical ideas and efforts that emerge from this conference will be met with much success.
From fighting BDS we move now to fighting both Hamas and – very sadly – our very own Ministry of Defence. A few weeks ago I wrote about the happy news that Yehuda Hayisraeli, who was so terribly injured in Operation Protective Edge, has made a remarkable recovery. Now he is ready to come home and continue his rehabilitation in a home environment. But the Ministry of Defence, whose remit it is to provide the funding for his parents to adapt their home for Yehuda’s needs, as they do for all injured soldiers, is refusing to provide the funding because their home is in Ofra, the oldest of the Israeli towns in Samaria, and is under a de-facto building freeze (this is the most “right-wing government ever”, remember?). As the parents note, it was the government that encouraged and enabled them to move to Ofra in the first place! Because of this freeze, the money to expand and adapt the family home will not be provided by the Defence Ministry. What difference should it make where a soldier lives? No Palestinian is going to be evicted from their home by adapting the Hayisraeli home! This is bureaucracy and government evasion at the most base level. Shame on them!
But the family and friends of the Hayisraelis were not to be deterred, and they initiated a Head Start crowdfunding campaign to raise the necessary funds.This is the video they produced to galvanize the campaign:
And the miraculous new? Within 18 hours (!!!) they raised 104% of their goal! The sum is still rising as we speak. Even Yitzchak (Buji) Herzog, leader of the opposition Zionist Union party, donated 1,000 shekels. Kol hakavod to him on his generosity and for not letting politics get in the way of a humane gesture.
You can still donate at the Head Start site, because there will be need for much more funding into the future until Yehuda returns to his old self.
Kol hakavod to the family, friends and donors – this is the beautiful Israel that we all love and are so proud of. And shame on the Israeli government, both for refusing the funding and for this absurd and unjust building freeze.
Since we’re on the subject of wounded soldiers, here is another heart-warming story. Six months after being terribly injured in a car-ramming attack, Ro’i and his bride Tehilla got married this week:
What a miracle! Mazal tov to the young couple, may they have a long and happy life together!
And to conclude, here is something totally different: a make-up tutorial for the IDF (I kid you not!) 😀
So when a former Los Angeles songwriter-turned-IDF-combat-soldier uploaded her Camo Makeup Tutorial on May 9, her parody could easily have gotten lost in the pile.
But Hannah Laskow Defore and her friend Neta Avitan already have more than 250,000 people chuckling along to the utterly fabulous makeup tutorial that will help you “just blend in.”
Lampooning the unglamorous day-to-day look of an IDF soldier, Defore opens her short tutorial with a message to her friends back in the US: “So, a lot of you guys have been asking me about my daily makeup routine and to be honest it’s changed quite a lot since I’ve moved from LA.”
Just watch her hilarious video. Make-up, camouflage and the IDF will never quite look the same again!
And with these heart-warming and entertaining stories, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom.