In an effort to counter media reports focusing on the effect the war has had on Lebanese life, a new Web site has been launched to share the experiences of Israelis in the North who have lived through a month of rocket attacks.
IsraelVoices.com has video and audio clips and text from residents of northern cities sharing their experiences. The site was created and put on-line in less than 24 hours, after an educational forum in Tel Aviv to inform people about sharing their stories with world media.
The site's organizers and operators are volunteers, like Seth Eisenberg. He flew here from Florida at the request of Gil Samsonov, chairman of IsraelVoices.com, to help with the forum and then put together the Web site.
"The initial seed of the program was teaching people to tell their stories," Eisenberg said. "Their testimony of facing terror and their stories are full of heroism and bravery and stories the world should hear. As we watched the videos and I saw how deeply touched I was, I said we need to make them available to widest possible audience and in 24 hours they were up, posted and available."
Avital Zalmanovitch, spokeswoman for the Web site, said Samsonov appeared on a morning show and said he wanted to share people's stories. There were dozens of responses, and the site has at least 100 stories to post. Both she and Eisenberg emphasized the importance of sharing these stories, since Israel's detractors use "every trick imaginable" to misrepresent the country and its citizens.
Eisenberg stressed that the stories on the site are not scripted beforehand, but represent the true accounts of what residents in northern towns have lived through. One video features Yossi, a resident of Haifa, speaking about living in fear and the desire for peace.
"People need to understand that we here in the cities of northern Israel sit every day in bomb shelters fearing for the lives of our children, hearing the nearby explosions and just want one thing," he says in a weary and sad voice. "We want it to stop. We want it to be over. We want peace."
He also speaks of protecting his two children, 10 and one, and not having to protect his eldest son who was killed in a suicide attack.
Another testimony is from Inbal, a young mother carrying her son in a bright orange carrier, who remembers going through the first war in Lebanon. She hasn't seen her home in three weeks, travels around the country seeking places to stay and won't return home until the country is safe because she won't put her son at risk.
"People from Florida to Bangladesh to Russia and everywhere in between see that these are multidimensional human beings with the same loves and fears as them, who woke up one morning on the forefront of terror," Eisenberg said. "It may just be a drop in the ocean, but it's a drop that really touches people in a deep and profound way."