‘Joe’s Israel’, a new social media based Israel project, was launched on the web, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter earlier today. The project provides a platform to empower college students in North America for a dialogue on Israel. The campaign is significant both in terms of its new media strategy, and because of the message it promotes.

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The project uses text, images and video and features our host Joe and his family. The campaign opens with Joe speaking about the connection between the Jewish people and Israel. He does this from his personal perspective as college student recently returned from his first visit to Israel. His sister, Sarah, who is a law student and thinks she knows it all, presents some background to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Chances are the internet going public are about to set her straight, both for what she leaves out and for what she included in her law school presentation. Then there’s Dad who’s upset at the media’s treatment of Israel, indeed the whole family have something to say about double standards, bias and the way Israel is treated in the global community. In this campaign, students are invited into Joe’s world and encouraged to express their opinions, thought and feelings through social media.

Joe’s Israel goes where many have traditionally been afraid to tread. It gives students and others the platform to express themselves. It creates a forum for discussion, rather than a forum for one way broadcasting of the opinions of leaders. Joe’s Israel is designed to let people truly engage, discuss, question and learn.

Joe’s Israel is a project of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), the not-for-profit organization also responsible for the Jewish Virtual Library. Major partners in the project include Hillel, StandWithUs, the Israel on Campus Coalition and the World Zionist Organisation. The staff behind Joe’s Israel will work to find answers to the questions people pose, and to bring experts and leaders onto the platform to provide their responses to key themes that emerge from the discussion. Honest Reporting, for example, have already replied to Dad’s rant about the media. Just as we hope students will engage, we also hope many more organisations and Jewish leaders will share their passion for Israel and for their passion for the Jewish community through this campaign.

Having originally received the brief to design something amazing to utilise social media for Israel, and after almost a year in development, I’m please to finally share Joe’s Israel with you. Or rather, I’m please to present Joe who will explain it in more detail. He seems to have taken on a life of his own, so all I can do is sit back and let you judge for yourselves.

Behind the scenes, Joe’s Israel has a range of additional partners and remains open for additional organisations to join the campaign (just send Joe an e-mail). We also seek to empower student leaders, selected by our key partners, as moderators of the discussion. Partners across the world are using social media to engage in discussion about the direction of the campaign. This is not a campaign with a Facebook page tacked on to it, this is campaign designed on a social media philosophy. This is where the future of activism is going, so over the next few months, join Joe and let’s see how this all unfolds.

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