New website debunks anti-Israel charges via Q&A

The site enables people around the world to ask IDF soldiers personal questions about their army service and life in Israel.

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February 20, 2011 02:08
2 minute read.
Friend-a-soldier

friend a soldier 311. (photo credit: Screenshot)

 
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A group of IDF veterans has set up a new website aimed at debunking accusations against Israel and its military in the most direct way – questions and answers.

Called “Friend-a-Soldier,” the site was established by IDF veterans Daniel Nisman, Yagil Beinglass and Joshua Mintz, American and British immigrants in their early 20s who were distraught over the way IDF soldiers were being vilified in news stories, blogs, and online chat rooms.

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The site enables people around the world to ask IDF soldiers personal questions about their army service and life in Israel, and receive a transparent, truthful answer in return.

“Establishing these personal connections is the only way to break the misconceptions about us,” explained Nisman, 24, who studies government at the IDC in Herziliya and served in the Nahal Brigade after moving to Israel from Cleveland, Ohio. “The existence of this website shows that we have nothing to hide. We would never see a website like this of Hamas rocket-launching squads.”

Since the launch of the site, Friend-a-Soldier has had visits from over 3,000 unique users from over 50 countries, including Kuwait, Yemen, and Turkey.

“The most interesting e-mails have come from Arabs,” said Beinglass.

“Some want our opinion on the peace process, others ask if we kill babies. Many seem skeptical about their own government’s portrayal of Israel and Jews.”



The site works on a system of volunteers, who represent a wider array of civilian and military backgrounds. Yuval Zimerman, for example, made aliya from Mexico and is currently studying history at the Hebrew University.

He served as an officer in the Paratroopers Corps during the second intifada and has fielded some of the questions regarding IDF operations in the West Bank.

Another soldier is 24-year-old Liran Suhareanu, who was a commander at the IDF Induction Center in Tel Hashomer. She answers questions regarding the social role the military plays in Israeli society.

“For me, it’s important for people to understand that since its inception, the IDF has had women serving alongside men, and that Arabs and gays serve openly,” she said.

The project’s founders have high hopes for the future.

“We aim to reach a point where we have IDF veterans from all parts of Israeli society volunteering to answer questions in many languages to personally influence hundreds of people a month,” Nisman said.


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