Between anti-Semitism on college campuses and terror attacks, it doesn’t seem that hatred for the Jewish state will end in the near future.
While hate for Israel does not seem be letting up, the approach of Israel advocates can change.
There are two main ways, Luxembourg explained, to advocate for Israel:
1) Through Hasbara, Hebrew for “explaining,” which defends or positively influences people’s views of Israel, her political moves and policies.
2) Or through the “Marketing Approach,” as Luxembourg calls it, which uses personal stories and interests, in order to present Israel not just as that distant place of conflict but as a real and thriving place, a place close to our hearts.
He argues that the second approach is more successful. He sets a great example of how to implement it. As CEO of Crowdmii, a fundraising platform, Luxembourg connects people from around the world with Israeli innovative business ventures.
Luxembourg talks about Israel as a “start-up nation,” a phrase well-known by Hasbara advocates. But by presenting his personal interest, which for him happens to be start-ups, he successfully implements the “marketing approach,” and connects to people globally through the culturally rich modern Israel that he loves being a part of.
Also bringing a valuable viewpoint to the table is the award-winning Chloe Valdary, who founded and led a CAMERA – supported group in 2013, and now researches and develops successful Israel advocacy tactics as a Tikvah Fellow at the Wall Street Journal. In her recent Times of Israel article, 21st Century Zionism: The Importance of Place & Homeland in Popular Culture, she shared her discoveries.
Israel Advocacy begins with a question: Why advocate for Israel? That is to say, why care about Israel?
Yes, Israel is an innovative, resourceful, pluralistic democracy that has built itself up exponentially since being returned to the Jewish people in 1948. This is nothing short of a miracle and it is something to be amazed by.
However, that is not really why people love Israel, Valdary explains. Any reason to advocate for this crazy little country begins with love—a love deeply rooted in a historic, familial relationship with the land.
To advocate for Israel is to protect family, to cherish home. Israel is where the story began and where it can only truly continue for the Jewish people.
To not value home is to abandon identity. Without a homeland, there is no safe haven for the Jewish people—but more than that, without Israel, the Jewish people has no real sense of place in the world.
According to Luxembourg and Valdary, defending Israel should come from within—from personal stories, from a historical, shared connection to a homeland, from a pure desire to better the country and how it viewed by the world because it is so essential to the existence and identity of the Jewish people.
If an advocate begins with a pure appreciation of Israel in mind and then shares all the great things that flourish from Israel and the Jewish people, there will always be plenty to discuss.
“If you are moved by the music of Bob Marley, if your imagination is captured by the works of Michelangelo, if your heart is stirred by the dream of MLK, if you are captivated by Leonard Cohen, if you are inspired by the story of David and Goliath, if you were moved to tears by old Negro spirituals…
Then right now, at this moment you are all Tel Aviv. You are all Israel. And not in the lame social media meme sort of way but quite literally. For the things that move you were rooted in a language and lexicon shaped and crafted by a people. A people currently under attack and to whom you owe a debt. And if you do not defend and fight on behalf of them, all your institutions will come crashing down with sound and fury.”
Revealing the depth of Israel and Jewish culture, Valdary allows people to realize how much it deserves to be appreciated. Luxembourg does this as well as he helps Israeli businesses and global supporters collaborate and thrive in partnership.
An advocate should strive to present Israel in such a beautiful, relatable way.
But if an advocate’s passion for Israeli innovations or multi-faceted Jewish culture does not influence people, those people will hopefully at least begin to respect the Jewish people’s love for Israel because they understand what it means to love a home.
Valdary concludes her recent article by explaining that just as humans love their home and family, the Jewish people’s connection to their homeland “is an instinct every human being can relate to.”
In short, to advocate for Israel is equivalent to expressing one’s love for another person—each person says it or does it in their own way but the key is to be genuine and relatable.
Contributed by CAMERA Intern Penina Simkovitz