A Word From Our Chair: 3 tips to be a more effective online advocate

The recent wave of violence instigated by Hamas on the Gaza border gave me pause to consider how challenging it is to ensure that the perspective of those of us who support Israel is present in the polarizing conversation. While terrorists attempting to breach the border endangered Israelis, much of the media coverage downplayed the serious risk facing Israel’s civilian population and drew a worrisome moral equivalence between Israeli soldiers and Hamas terrorists.

Although addressing this bias is not a new challenge, the growing prominence of social media has added layers of complexity – for better and for worse. Indeed, social media has transformed advocacy. Perhaps the biggest change has been the increasingly impactful role grassroots Canadians – people like you and me – can play in the public policy discussion. Facebook, Twitter, and email have given us all a network, and that makes us incredibly powerful.

I believe that you – like me – want to be a responsible, effective online advocate for Israel and our community. Here are three tips that will help:

  1. Credibility is everything. Your credibility takes years to earn and seconds to lose. Once lost, it’s almost impossible to reclaim. You derive your power as a digital advocate from the trust your network has in you. Be honest and credible by a) posting ONLY information from credible sources; b) ensuring the images and videos you share are legitimate, c) avoiding exaggeration; and d) maintaining a reasonable tone. If you are angry as you are about to post, ask yourself, am I doing this to make myself feel good in the moment? Or will it help me educate Canadians about this complex subject matter? If you are in doubt, don’t post.
  2. Don’t do our adversaries’ work for them. Sometimes, either in frustration or amusement, we inadvertently amplify our adversaries message by sharing, retweeting, or forwarding it within our own network. Often this can be counterproductive because it gives the content exposure it wouldn’t otherwise receive.Consider this: By all economic measures, the divisive BDS movement has been a dismal failure. Israel’s economy has grown significantly since the movement began. You may be surprised to learn that hurting Israel economically has never been the objective of BDS. The true objective is far more insidious: to disrupt Jewish unity and tarnish Jewish identity.

    For the BDS crowd to achieve this devious outcome, they and their hateful campaign need oxygen. Don’t give it to them. That doesn’t mean that at times BDS shouldn’t be loudly criticized. Of course it should. Just be aware of the forum and ask yourself if sharing this content will help those who would do us harm achieve their objective?

    By thinking critically about the content you promote, you can avoid scoring points for our detractors and, instead, win victories for the Jewish and pro-Israel community.

  3. You have a good story to tell – so tell it! Being a Jewish or pro-Israel digital advocate means that you support causes you can be proud of:✅ You stand with the only democracy in the Middle East, and know that Israel makes incredible contributions to the world.

    ✅ You oppose antisemitism and bigotry in all its forms.

    ✅ You support public policy outcomes that improve the lives of Canadians.

    It’s easy to be overwhelmed by negativity. But know this: the people who need to hear our message are tired of all the shouting. Give them something positive, give them something credible, and give them something they can understand as Canadians, and they will listen to you. And that is the first step in laying the groundwork for the more difficult discussions.

If you want to take your online advocacy to the next level, click here to find out how you can become one of our digital advocates.

Sincerely

David Cape
Chair, CIJA

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