Going live for Israel

Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz have made a living out of advocating for the Jewish right to the Land of Israel, but are they making an impact?

Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz  (photo credit: courtesy)
Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz
(photo credit: courtesy)
The images on the screen are nothing short of terrifying – Iranian political and religious leaders inciting the masses, calling for the destruction of Israel and the US and for an Islamic takeover of the world. American and Israeli flags are burnt to ashes or ripped to shreds. Long-range ballistic missiles are paraded down the streets in downtown Tehran, followed by launch tests courtesy of the Iranian regime in efforts to upgrade its weapons arsenal, with the ultimate goal of perhaps one day tipping those missiles with nuclear warheads.
The overall message in the two new Internet videos on the Iranian threat – which have gone viral, receiving over four million views combined on YouTube in less than a month – is simple: The world cannot stand by idly as the Iranians race toward acquiring nuclear weapons, getting closer to realizing their goal with each passing day.
The videos, approximately five minutes each, were directed by Israeli olim, best friends and career pro- Israel activists Ari Abramowitz and Jeremy Gimpel. The two are the founders of The Land of Israel, a website and nonprofit educational organization dedicated to spreading the truth about the Jewish right to that land.
While both videos clearly display the fundamental dangers of a nuclear Iran, each takes a different angle in sounding the alarm.
In the first video, Iran vs. Israel: Back to the Future, which came out just before Passover, Gimpel highlights the world community’s inaction and utter silence as Hitler implemented his “Final Solution” during World War II, leading to the murder of six million Jews.
“If there is one thing we learned from the past,” he emphasizes in the video, “it’s that we [as Jews] must never leave our fate in the hands of others.”
The clip gives two specific examples of instances in which Jewish reliance on others’ sympathy led to calamity. One includes the ill-fated USS St. Louis, a ship carrying 930 passengers fleeing Germany in 1939, only to be refused entry at ports in Cuba, the US and Canada.
It had no choice but to return to Nazi Germany, where most of the passengers perished in Hitler’s death camps.
The second example of indifference he cites is the Allied powers’ failure to bomb the railroad tracks leading to Auschwitz, or the gas chambers themselves. Such a move could have saved thousands of lives at that most notorious camp, where the Nazis put to death 12,000 prisoners a day.
However, thanks to the State of Israel, Gimpel insists in the video, “this time is different,” and he calls on his viewers to support Israel’s right to do what it must to defend itself under the looming Iranian threat.
IN THE second video, titled Iran vs. Israel: No Fear and released just before Remembrance Day, narrator Abramowitz asks a question: If “everybody knows Iran wants to destroy Israel and the West, and everybody knows they want to conquer the world” – hence their pursuit of nuclear weapons – and since “everybody knows they must be stopped, why isn’t anyone doing what we all know needs to be done? “The answer,” he says, “is one word: fear.”
According to Abramowitz in the video, there is a “psychological mechanism at play here called cognitive dissonance. It’s a subconscious denial of something so terrifying that the gravity of the threat is totally denied despite the catastrophic consequences of inaction.”
He asserts that in Israel, “allowing ourselves the indulgence of cognitive dissonance [over the Iranian threat] would cost us lives – millions of them. We’ve been down that road before, and we’re not going to do it again.”
The video then utilizes clips from the Clarion Fund’s 2011 documentary Iranium, highlighting the dangers not only to Israel, but to the US should Iran pass on nuclear-tipped missiles to terror groups like Hezbollah, which could fire them at the US mainland from ships just off the coast.
Abramowitz says Israel has ignored its “fear” in the past, acting decisively even without world support – destroying the Iraqi Osirak nuclear facility in 1981 and rescuing the Israeli airline hostages at Entebbe in 1976.
Nonetheless, he continues in the video, “the international community continues to appease evil tyrannical dictators, which just gives them time to build their strength and implement dark and murderous schemes. In Israel, we simply can’t afford to wait for the possibility that the international community will garner up the courage to support us. It will be too late, too late for us and too late for the world.”
He concludes the video by saying that “as the nation of Israel, we have been assigned the responsibility of being a light unto the nations, and as that light, we not only have the right to defend ourselves, but the obligation to defend the rest of humanity.”
While it might seem to some that the videos are actually a subliminal call for military action against the Iranian regime, Abramowitz says that’s not the intention at all.
“Neither Jeremy nor I are military strategists by any means,” he says. “It’s a very tough decision whether or not Israel should launch a preemptive strike against Iran. But what we’re really conveying is that the right ingredients should be put together before making that decision. We need to ask ourselves, what is the right thing to do morally, strategically and militarily? And if the decision to strike is chosen, we believe Israel doesn’t need the approval of the world to act when it comes to its safety, and more so, its survival.”
He and Gimpel have been working together for over eight years in the field of pro-Israel activism, utilizing a variety of tools to educate people about the “Jewish historical connection to the Land in Israel.” While discussing Iran somewhat deviates from their mission, it was a topic they couldn’t ignore, because of the potential threat to Israel. And the popularity of their recent videos has convinced them that by utilizing the variety of social media outlets at their disposal, especially YouTube, they have uncovered the most effective way of gaining the exposure they need to make an impact.
FROM 2008 to 2011, the pair hosted the popular show Tuesday Night Live in Jerusalem, which Gimpel says “was the first-ever English-language television variety/ talk show broadcast internationally from Israel.”
The two-hour show aired bi-monthly in front of a live studio audience in Jerusalem’s Heichal Shlomo auditorium and was streamed live on the Internet via their website. According to Gimpel, the shows drew an average live audience of 600 people per episode.
He says the shows were then broken down into four 26-minute segments and aired on the Jewish Life television network, which reaches 30 million homes in North America.
The purpose of Tuesday Night Live, he says, “was to offer people a key to plug into the soul of Jerusalem, and to create a new Jewish culture via our faith-based educational and entertaining program.”
In 2011, the pair took the shows to the US, selling out halls in Houston, Fort Lauderdale and Dallas. However following their October 2011 show in front of a diverse group of 1,800 Israel supporters in the largest theater in downtown Dallas, the two realized that they could reach far greater audiences by utilizing technology, and could also avoid, in Gimpel’s words, “the stress – and insanity – which goes into preparing for a show.”
So after an intense series of strategy sessions, he and Abramowitz decided to launch “The Land of Israel” Facebook page, Twitter account and, most importantly, YouTube channel. While their Facebook page boasts an impressive 250,000 followers – making it, according to the pair, the second-largest Israel-based Facebook page championing the Jewish state – Gimpel says their greatest reach is via their videos, which are now available in an astounding 600 million households worldwide. That’s a result of a wide spectrum of television stations around the world, both Jewish and Christian, having obtained the rights to feature these pro- Israel clips on their networks.
So why are their videos so popular, especially the latest ones on the Iranian threat? Gimpel believes they are offering “a new angle which is unapologetic, proud and faith-based, whose message permeates the hearts of masses.”
He adds that “our viewers see that finally someone is revealing the truth and presenting a refreshing voice of reason and moral clarity.”
Abramowitz says he believes the videos have generated a great deal of buzz since each one in its own merit does a great job of eliciting emotions within specific populations.
“Jeremy’s video is geared more toward the Jewish world and nudges the Jewish community to wake up, so that for them, ‘Never again’ truly means never again,” he says. “Whereas my video hits home by exposing the fact that the Iranian threat isn’t just Israel’s problem, but it’s an issue which affects the whole world.”