Author: jdery

Vision, Determination, and Action

[su_intro]I am a Zionist activist who has been helping Israel’s image for the past six years abroad and in Israel.[/su_intro]

I made aliya from within Israel this past September 2012, one week before Rosh Hashana, since I have been living in the country for the past three years. My vision was to help improve Israel’s image to the world and I set out on a quest to fulfill that wish.

I was born in the United States in New York and raised in France for 10 years. I wanted to make aliya and settle in Israel because I found myself for the first time feeling at home among my fellow Jewish companions. I have always felt the Zionist pull to Israel ever since I did Taglit Birthright and fell in love with the country; also due to the fact that I always loved the Jewish traditions and customs practiced at home in the states and France.

While living in France, I witnessed various anti-Semitic acts such as Arabs spray-painting swastikas and some Arabs throwing rocks at Jews while going to synagogue. My non-Jewish friends would make fun of me for being Jewish in school, which was very uncomfortable. That experience made me realize how different I am and led me to be very curious about what it means to be a Jew.

While I was studying, I became more aware of the constant media bias against Israel as I viewed the atrocities caused by suicide bombings and rocket attacks on the civilian population. I decided to try to help Israel’s image while constantly remaining up-to-date with the conflict. On Facebook, I have been making new groups, including “Peace for Israel,” “Stand against Terrorism” and “Pro-Israel Activists Unite,” totaling 8,000 members, to help people around the world receive the news and truth about the conflict in Israel. At Drew University in New Jersey, I was the Hillel president where I initiated various Pro-Israel events to demonstrate to students the complexities of the Arab/Israeli conflict, such as hosting guest speakers like Israeli political analysts and Israeli consulate spokespeople to discuss the core issues facing Israel. Finally, I changed the university’s study abroad policy to allow students to study in Israel.

Following my personal battle to help Israel, I decided to enter into a Master’s Degree program at Tel Aviv University; however, I needed more experience within Israeli politics. I became involved in several projects all designed either to help Israel’s image in some way or to help new immigrants. One is World Magshimei Herut, an aliya and support organization founded in 1999. Another is Hadar Israel, a grassroots non-profit organization that encourages international dialogue and a third is the Gloria Center for Global Affairs, based at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. I helped to create a joint China/Israel event at the IDC to foster ties between both countries by bringing politicians and business leaders together to discuss topics relevant to both countries. In the meantime, I have helped Philippe Karsenty with his struggle to show the true story behind the Mohammad Al-Dura case in 2000 by providing him with different locations to appear as a guest speaker. With his PowerPoint presentation and speaking abilities, he helped to show the world that the Palestinians used the fabricated death of Al-Dura to launch a media attack against the State of Israel.

In order to get practical working experience while becoming familiar with the Israeli political and diplomatic arenas, I volunteered in the Knesset working in the Likud party. I aided former deputy minister Ayoob Kara with strengthening his ties to Evangelical Christian American groups and politicians in the US. Also, I used my French skills to acquire contacts for him in French-speaking African countries and among European politicians. During the second flotilla crisis in 2011, I aided the Foreign Ministry and the Gloria Center and a new pro-Israel initiative called Like for Israel which set up a communications room in Hertzliya to distribute accurate information in many different international languages about the threat of breaching the blockade and why the Gaza blockade is crucial for the safety and security for the State of Israel. Finally, during Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, where Israel launched a military operation in Gaza to stop the terror rocket attacks in the south, I volunteered with the Ministry of Hasbara. I aided them with translating government documents from English to French while distributing the crucial information to Jewish centers in France.

Recently, after making aliya and completing my MA in Conflict Resolution from Tel Aviv University, I was very involved with the general elections of 2013. I helped the Likud party promote their agenda. Meanwhile, I have attended numerous political and Hasbara related events all around Israel including the President’s Conference and Hertzliya Conference from the IDC in order to learn more about the conflict and make new connections. I have helped different initiatives in Israel including raising awareness of the plight of the Jewish refugees from the Arab world and the peace process using my PowerPoint skills, research skills, and speaking skill to educate students and pro Israel Activists about these particular issues.

I found my passion in life, which is to assist the country in its struggle for a positive public image to the world.

I realized that I have a duty, as a Jew who studied the Jewish and Middle Eastern history, witnessed firsthand anti-Semitism, and is a Zionist who cared for the only Jewish state, to give all of my time and effort to help Israel in its ongoing quest to portray itself as a light unto the nations. I look forward to working harder and longer in this never ending quest of helping the Jewish state defend itself from the media onslaught, improving Israel’s image around the world, and strengthening the diaspora Jewish connection to Israel.