Yoseph Haddad, CEO of Together Vouch for Each Other, a nonprofit which seeks to unite Jewish and Arab Israelis, remembers the instantaneous connection he had with his fiancé, Emily Schrader, CEO and cofounder of the digital marketing firm, Social Lite Creative and former digital director of StandWithUs.“When we met, we immediately clicked,” he said. As Israeli activists, they came up with the idea of hosting a YouTube series together where they discuss breaking news stories, events and politics directly affecting the Middle East.
They want to present the side of Israel to a Western audience that doesn’t always get accurate facts about what is really happening from mainstream news. The first episode debuted February 2.
Haddad, an Arab Israeli Christian, was born in Haifa and raised in Nazareth.
“I did grow up in Nazareth, but most of my family, grandparents and cousins, were in Haifa, and Haifa is the biggest mixed city in Israel. So you would see Jews, you would see Druze, you would see Arab Muslims, Arab Christians in this wonderful big city. I used to play football there with my friends. We grew up Jews and Arabs together. we didn’t care that this guy is an Arab and this guy is a Jew.”
On October 4, 2003, a female suicide bomber blew up Maxim, an Arab-Jewish-owned restaurant in Haifa that Haddad and his family used to frequent. Twenty-one civilians were killed.
“This could have been me,” Haddad stated. “So when a terrorist comes and attacks like this, there’s no discrimination between Arabs and Jews... an Arab from Israel, and a Jew from Israel, it really doesn’t matter, because if you’re an Israeli, you are a target for terrorism.
“This is our country. We’re born here. I hold an Israeli passport, I have an Israeli identity. We work in order to bridge gaps and live in partnership or we don’t have a brighter future for both people, Jews and Arabs.” Haddad was a commander when he served in the IDF from 2003-2006, and also participated in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
SCHRADER, A columnist for The Jerusalem Post was raised in a pro-Israel home in Los Angeles. But growing up, she lived separately from her family in Colorado while training to become an Olympic figure skater. It was an arduous path that she ultimately decided not to pursue.
“I wanted to be a cheerleader and go to school and be normal. I just sort of burned out,” she explained. After graduating from high school early, at age 16, she majored in political science at the University of Southern California, where she became aware of the growing anti-Israel sentiment on campus.
When Students for Justice in Palestine hosted Israeli Apartheid Week, Schrader felt compelled to do something to combat the misinformation being spread, so she joined Students for Israel and quickly became a board member.
“After that, I got involved with a few different pro-Israel organizations and I went on a trip to Israel,” she recalled. “What pushed me to be an activist was really the extremism of the other side and seeing the antisemitism that is rising, and unfortunately it’s significantly worse now.”
Schrader received her master’s degree in political communication at Tel Aviv University in 2013 and made aliyah two years later.
Schrader had heard of Haddad through her Israel advocacy work but had not actually met him until about a year ago when she organized a networking event at a bar on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv.
Haddad explained, “I’ll tell you something, I immediately knew… After we were talking, she asked me about public figures who I idolize. I said that I had this intention to do a tattoo on my body with three leaders whom I really admire, one of them was Margaret Thatcher.
“I’m looking at Emily, like, ‘You know Margaret Thatcher, right?’ And she’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Margaret Thatcher is a huge idol for Emily as well.”
They both took this as a sign of fate. When she told her mother the story, Schrader said she exclaimed, “What? Why does an Israeli Arab from Nazareth like Margaret Thatcher? He sounds like he’s perfect for you!’’
THREE MONTHS after they met, Haddad purchased an engagement ring. He is a correspondent at i24 News, and had the idea of surprising Schrader with a proposal on camera.
She accompanied him to the Gaza border while he filmed a segment on the Gaza war in May.
When he turned to her, she thought he was going to ask her what it was like hearing rockets flying overhead, but instead he got down on one knee, reached into his front pocket and presented her with a ring.
The video went viral and even mainstream news networks in Israel, like Channel 12 and Channel 13, picked up the story. Their wedding is planned for September.
To watch their biweekly “Headlines with the Haddads” on YouTube, go to https://www.youtube.com/c/headlineswiththehaddads