by Florence Broder
When Allison Fine was in Israel in May, she said Israelis have so much to say, it can’t fit into 140 characters. Yet Israelis are a population that live for text messaging – it’s even how they pay their parking meter. I constantly try to make sense of the disparity between the two Israels: one being the hi-tech center of the world; the other, a country not that can’t use the tools to communicate. During June’s Israeli Presidential Conference, everyone applauded the great coverage on Twitter, but I couldn’t help but ask why was it all in English? Where were all the Israeli Hebrew tweeters?
However, the developing protests in Israel paint a different picture. The need to communicate has made tweets a catalyst for change and a revolutionary spirit. Empowered by social media, the Israeli public has been galvanized in the quest for social justice, the mantra of the movement. The Tent Protesters quickly launched a WordPress site designed by Code Patuach that has the elements that we all want – a social, interactive site, with a clear call-to- action, and consistent branding.
The site homepage offers you photos, videos and blogs. If it’s community you are looking for, there is a Hebrew and English Twitter feed and you can follow the #J14 hashtag. (In case you were wondering, it’s J14 because the movement began on July 14th, which is also Bastille Day.) There is a Facebook page which allows fans to identify with the movement by offering them badges and other opportunities to get involved. Want to leave a comment about a newspaper article? You can do it right from the homepage. There is even a live chat feature so you can talk to protesters right on the spot! And if you want to support the movement financially, the is a clearly labeled donate button.
The protesters have been so successful because they have been strategic in how they have empowered the public to get involved. They have created clear and consistent messaging to propel the public forward. They have leveraged social media to give a voice to people who thought they were voiceless. They have created community for people who felt alone in their plight. As the movement grows, so does the reawakening of the Israeli public who are starting to actually believe that they can effect change and re-envision a different future for Israel.
As you consider issues in your own community, reflect on the success of social media in bringing together Israelis from all walks of life. Think about how the tools can do the same for your community. Take a fresh look at your organization’s website and think about how you too can integrate social media into your website to reawaken the complacent into action.
Florence Broder is the COO of IsraelGives.org.
image: Israel Housing Protests Tel Aviv July 30, 2011; licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license by avivi