web analytics
July 4, 2015 / 17 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Edelstein: Don’t Blame Reporters for Israel’s Negative Image

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Minister of Public Diplomacy Yuli Edelstein told students and young professionals not to blame reporters for Israel’s poor image at a conference on media and hasbarah at Ariel University earlier this month.

“Some reporters are anti-Israel, others are pro-Israel and most are objective,” Edelstein said. “The reporters are here for one reason, and that is to cover the conflict . . . [e]ven if they did write a nice article about Israel, it wouldn’t be published.”

Edelstein also urged citizens to take an active role in Israel’s public diplomacy efforts, stating that, “Citizens, who photograph and share it on social media introduce to the world our human face.”

The conference was part of the week-long New Media and Public Diplomacy Seminar organized by Ariel University’s School of Communications and sponsored by the Ministery of Hasbarah as well as the Prime Minsiter’s Office, held September 9-14th.

The seminar brought together 40 young students and professionals from around the world to learn about how public diplomacy shapes the Middle East conflict and the increasing impact of social media.

Seminar participants toured Israeli settlements and Palestinians villages, meeting with their residents, visited the Temple Mount, the security barrier and heard from Israeli professors, reporters and military officials.

Another speaker on the seminar, Mudar Zahran, a Palestinian originating from Jordan who is currently in political exile in London, spoke at the settlement of Eli and surprised local residents with his objections to the dismantlement of Jewish settlements.

Zahran claimed that the Palestinian state should be established in Jordan.

“The Palestinians have 78% of the land and the Jews have 22%,” he added “so it’s a fair deal.”

Zahran also praised the settlements for helping the Palestinians by creating jobs, and blamed the “Arab regimes” for “inciting against Israel,” so that their people will focus on Israel and not on them.

Students also heard from critics of Israel such as a Palestinian named Omar from the village of Kalkilia, who said he works in Israel and that he must pass through an Israeli military check point on his way to work every day.

“Imagine,” he said bitterly, “you had to go through airport security checks just to get to your own land.”

While Omar said he supports Israel’s security, he said that “instead of building barriers we should build the peace.”

At the Habla military check point outside Kalkilia, participants met with Daniella, a representative of the Machsom Watch organization, considered by many to be an anti-Israel NGO.

Daniella complained about the difficulties Palestinians had to go through getting permits to work in Israel, “even after getting the permit” she added, “they need additional permits for their car, cart, donkey and sheep.”

“We volunteer for the benefit of Israel and the Palestinians,” Daniella said, adding that the “situation at the check points has improved incredibly.”

Participants concluded the seminar with a more positive view of Israel and the settlements.

“In Denmark, settlers have been stigmatized as evil people,” said Magnus Franck, a participant hailing from Denmark. Franck said he was surprised to find them to be “very nice people.”

Swedish participant Doron Keidar blamed the world of being detached from reality, due to “misinformation of the media.”

“The Arabs build with no restrictions, while the Jew’s are restricted from building even the smallest thing,” Keidar said.

Lara Berman a participant from the U.S. said that the media could never replace the experience of actually visiting the settlements.

“You can’t compare seeing the areas that are in the news, and interacting with people that are living it, with an article or a YouTube clip,” she said.

Berman said that she concluded the seminar with “more compassion and information on the situation.”

Branding Sold America on Obama like a Can of Soda

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

What’s the difference between a president and a can of Pepsi? When it comes to winning elections, the answer is very little. The 2008 election was not about issues, it was about image. Not just the image of the candidate, but the image of his brand.

In marketing terms, a brand is not just a label, it’s the way that the customer is meant to perceive the product and interact with it. Take the can of Pepsi. It doesn’t matter what’s actually in the can, you don’t have access to the full list of ingredients anyway. And if you did, it would take extensive research to even make sense of them. It’s not even about how the actual soda tastes. That matters, but not very much. All that really matters is how the customer perceives the brand. It’s not about the content. It’s only about how people view the brand.

From a marketing standpoint, it’s not what the product is, but how people perceive it in relation to themselves. This is an entirely image based approach, but a common one now. The ultimate question is – Is this a brand I want to be associated with? Do I want to be seen drinking this can of Pepsi? Is this a brand that makes me feel good about myself? Does it enhance my self-image?

The branding of American politics worked the same way. Obama was not sold as a set of positions and a track record, but as a brand. A brand that people were encouraged to feel enthusiastic about or at least comfortable with, using the same techniques that were used to sell soft drinks. Cheerful posters, meaninglessly simple slogans, celebrities, theme songs, merchandise, social media, viral videos, fonts, color schemes, logos and everything else that goes into pushing a billion dollar product from the shelves to the kitchen.

That transition took Hillary Clinton by surprise and hurt her most of all. Hillary had been working the party and the traditional campaign circuit, only to be sidelined by a media centered frenzy that centered around brands, not people. By the old political rules she should have won, but the new rules were in and they weren’t political anymore.

Few voters could really nail down the policy differences between Obama and McCain, a mistake that was in part McCain’s own fault and played into the image-over-substance approach of the Obama campaign. And those who couldn’t, mostly voted for the candidate they felt most comfortable being associated with. The election came down to a cultural split with the cultural weapons of mass distraction in the hands of an omnipresent media and social media empire.

There was no longer any point in discussing programs or issues. They had become details, like the fine print at the end of a television commercial that no one can read, and no one is meant to read. It’s there to fulfill an obligation, not to inform or play any meaningful role in the decision making process. All that mattered was the brand.

The approach was to make voters want to be part of the Obama “brand” and not want to be associated with the McCain/Palin brand. The Obama brand was positioned as cool and youthful, in the same way that soft drinks are. And the public was told over and over again that McCain was old and crazy, that Palin was stupid and crazy, and that both of them were uncool. Probably the most constant message repeated through the election and today, is that the Republican is for “old people”. In marketing terms this is worse than being called a Nazi. The constant pursuit of youth means that brands which appeal to old people are ruthlessly eliminated or limited to the export market. (That’s why you’ll find many classic American brands in South America or Asia where they have strong consumer loyalty, but in the United States they were replaced with more “youthful” brands associated with a new generation.)

2008 was certainly not the first time that liberals had worked to position themselves as the face of a new generation, and the Republicans as the voice of the past. The strategy dated back to Kennedy vs Nixon and saw use again with Clinton in 1992 and 1996, when Silent Generationers, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole contended with the country’s first Baby Boomer President. And then in 2008, the boomer Hillary Clinton was pushed aside for a Generation X candidate. The progressive left enjoys being thought of as revolutionary and youthful, even if their ideas and funding come from eighty-year olds like Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and George Soros. A youthful demographic is less likely to have the background and the life experience to know that their policies won’t work, and to be fueled by the same inchoate mix of outrage and blind optimism. And a willingness to act without understanding the consequences.

So Different Yet Similar

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Music played loudly while the men danced. On the women’s side of the mechitzah, we tried to speak over the sounds. I leaned over the table to hear what my co-worker’s wife was saying.

“Well, because we are both Belz, it just made sense,” Zeldy said with a smile, then continued picking at the chicken on her plate.

“The Belzer Rebbe even had a hand in our shidduch; he told both of our parents that it was a good idea.”

“By the time a young couple meets,” another woman, Toby, piped in, “the families know so much about each other. All that remains is for the couple to meet. They sometimes even get engaged that night. I remember when my brother was about to meet a girl for the first time, I caught my mother buying candy for a party, and I said, ‘Ma! You’ve already decided they’re getting engaged?’ But they actually did. They got engaged that night!” Toby said with a laugh.

Wow, I thought to myself. We come from such different worlds.

When I arrived home that night after the bar mitzvah of my boss’s son, I thought to myself how interesting it had been to interact with other Jews – but how strange it was not knowing much at all about their lifestyle.

Growing up as a second-generation Lubavitcher in Houston, the only chassidim to whom I had been exposed were the Chabad rabbis in my community. (And I never met the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who lived in New York from 1941 until his passing in 1994.)

My hometown community is an eclectic mix of observant Jews from various backgrounds, and as a child I was exposed to secular ideas and curriculums. Then, while attending a Lubavitch seminary in Israel, I observed other chassidim from afar.

I soon moved to Crown Heights to live near friends while attending university, and picked up the concentrated Lubavitch culture fairly quickly.

It was only four years later, when working alongside Belz, Satmar, and Bobov chassidim for a magazine based in Boro Park, that I developed an intense curiosity about the customs and lifestyle of these chassidim that seemed so different from my own.

Everything from their pronunciation of the holidays to the different ways they each curled their peyos to the mayonnaise-packed dishes for sale every few shops made me dizzy.

The chassidim around me at work periodically gave me a glimpse into their culture, but all I could see was how vastly theirs differed from mine. Still, I continued to observe them from a distance, figuring they valued their privacy.

Earlier that week I had attended a Satmar wedding. Everything seemed so new and exciting to me, but there was something that bothered me. These are my fellow Jews, I thought. Why do their ways seem so foreign to me?

Separate seating I was used to. The chuppah was traditionally Jewish. The fathers swayed back and forth in deep concentration as the bride approached the groom, stepping to the side as she encircled him seven times. The women looked radiant, angelic.

But some of the customs were, well, different. The mothers walked the bride down to the chuppah with an extra covering on their heads. The bride came down to the wedding reception with a wig on, her hair nowhere to be seen.

I had seen some of the customs before, of course. But there was a certain innocence, a purity I sensed, that made me yearn to know these people better. I looked at the girls around me and I ached inside; I didn’t quite know my own sisters, whom I loved nonetheless.

I decided to spend a Shabbos in Boro Park.

* * * * *

After lighting candles on Friday night, I left the house where I was staying to walk quickly through the raindrops to my co-worker’s house. Every person I passed rushed by me, looking in the other direction.

Soon I realized they were all men, so I should not expect a greeting nor should I offer one – of any kind. Men and women keep to their own gender in this neighborhood, I reminded myself. Greetings cannot be called out like in my hometown. Finally I spotted a woman and called out, “Good Shabbos,” to which she smiled and wished me the same.

Part VII: The End…The Beginning

Friday, June 8th, 2012

The first six sections of my story have focused on my struggles adapting to a strange college environment forced on me against my will. While that story is self-contained, I thought it would be worthwhile to at least partially answer the main question my book will address: What ended up happening to me? This is a fast-forwarded account that describes my watershed moment as a college student.

It is not often that someone can look back and divide their life into two separate and distinct sections—a before and an after. It may seem that the logical dividing point in my life was when I left yeshiva and started college, but that really is not the case. It was very possible, if not likely, that I could have spent my collegiate career as an overwhelmed and uncomfortable fish perpetually stuck out of water, without experiencing any significant personal change or growth. I get a lot of weird glances when I say this, but it is 100% true: Louis Farrakhan changed my life – for the better.

While the Nation of Islam is probably not a major part of most of our lives, they are rather prominent in Chicago where they are headquartered. I had been following the extreme racial and anti-Semitic antics of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam for quite some time. He was often in the news, and never for any particularly good reasons. The black and white world in which I lived had everything to do with right and wrong and nothing to do with race, but there were few people I deemed more radically evil than Farrakhan.

I had often seen members of the Nation of Islam on the train or handing out their propaganda newspaper, “The Final Call.” They were people I avoided at all cost.

As I became more active in my classes, it was clear I stood out. People I didn’t recognize would come up to me in the hallways or on the bus and comment about something I said in class. I attributed that visibility to my yarmulke, but the truth is I stood out because I was so actively engaged in my classes, much more so than my classmates.

The message I internalized, however, was that I was obviously different because I was Jewish, and my peers would always notice that. It was my job to represent my heritage well and successfully defend it when necessary.

I was absolutely shocked to find signs advertising a speech by Louis Farrakhan at the start of the fall 1992 semester. I could not understand how this was possible. The concept of political correctness was fundamental to the college experience in the 1990’s. We were consistently told that anything derogatory or in anyway insulting to a racial or ethnic group was forbidden and even grounds for dismissal, yet somehow, the most virulent of anti-Semites was speaking at a campus sponsored event!

To me, this was even more evidence that the persecution of Jews was unique in world history, how else can one explain the most basic principle of campus discourse being ignored to allow Farrakhan the opportunity to speak?

While the planned event did encourage some heated student discussions both in and outside of class, I chose to ignore them. I kept looking for signs and fliers about the counter demonstration that would surely take place during the speech, but none appeared.

I assumed that the protesters had taken a more secretive approach, and that there would be a major protest at the event itself, if not by the student body as a whole, at least by the Jewish students, even if I was not aware of who was organizing it.

The speech was limited to NEIU students only. While I was a student, I was having a tuition bill issue that semester (they could never read my FAFSA and I went through 5-6 revisions before we got it right—they have since moved to an online system). As a result, I did not have the stamp on my ID certifying that I was a current student.

That meant that I could not gain admittance to the speech itself. Security was tight on the day of the event. I showed up outside of the auditorium early, fully expecting to find a major protest underway, but I was sorely disappointed. There was not a single sign or person protesting. I was shocked. How could that be? How could a person like Farrakhan be allowed to speak in the first place? And even if he was allowed to speak, how could the college community ignore this provocation? I simply could not believe it.

Israeli Startup Helping Americans Find Jobs

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

As the US economy suffers from a stagnant unemployment rate, an Israeli startup company is using innovative technology to change the way Americans search for and find jobs.

Utilizing social networking as its base, Jobsminer.com is the only job search engine that aggregates jobs in real time from social networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and more. While such social networks are generally limited to family, friends or followers, JobsMiner offers a ground-breaking means to access job opportunities hidden within the vast and relatively untamed social networking frontier.

In unlocking these hidden jobs, JobsMiner presents potential employment opportunities that otherwise would have been missed by the job seeker.

If someone for example, wants to search for potential jobs in Maine, a simple click on the website’s map of the state yields a list of jobs, ranging from office manager in Portland to registered nurse in Bangor, all drawn from various social networking sites. The job seeker can always tailor the search by specifying the job field he or she is interested in and the geographical area.

According to the company’s CEO, Ran Enoch, over 22 million Americans have used social networks to find their most recent job in 2011.

“The majority of jobseekers today use social networking,” Enoch told Tazpit News Agency in an exclusive interview.

“Ours is the first and only on-line tool that searches all social media websites for relevant jobs,” he added.

JobMiner’s social media search engine is based upon the unique technology of Makam, a leading Israeli company which has been monitoring and analyzing social media for seven years, providing services in the fields of government, security, and healthcare to thousands of users in organizations both in Israel and internationally including the US.

“The reason that we chose to launch JobsMiner in the United States is due to the current economic climate of the country and partly because of our familiarity with the market there,” explained Enoch.

“Our search engine crawls through social networks, blogs and forums, filtering out the clutter and presenting those job opportunities that are relevant to the job seeker. What we realized is that company employees many times will post about a job opening on their social networks before it even appears on the company’s website or job board. JobsMiner gets this information out to a much wider circle of people in the quickest possible way.”

Launched in February 2012, JobsMiner has already helped countless Americans locate jobs, according to Enoch.

Joyce Lain Kennedy, a Los Angeles Times syndicated Careers columnist predicts that JobsMiner “holds the potential to play a major role in the 21st century job search revolution.” She described JobsMiner in her column as “an impressive burst of creative energy to refresh your job search.”

With ten Israeli employees who oversee one million job postings per month, JobsMiner is a small start-up company located in Kiryat Ono near Tel Aviv, and is looking to expand its services.

“Following our success in the American market, we are looking at the job market in Spain right now,” said Enoch. The company is also looking elsewhere in Europe and plans to make its job service technology available in its own home country in the coming months, with the Hebrew-language system already set.

“Even with our plans to continue expanding, one thing will not change and that is we plan to always keep our services free of charge,” Enoch told Tazpit News Agency. JobsMiner provides its services for free as it generates revenue through clicks on Google advertisements on its site.

“In general, our company’s vision is to continue to help people find work across the globe,” concludes Enoch.

Part VI: Academics

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

While things might have seemed very strange in this foreign college environment, especially because I was tossed in without any roadmap to help me navigate and understand the kinds of things I was seeing all around me, there was one area I was not worried about: academics. Northeastern Illinois has a rather derogatory nickname, “Northeasy,” and it does not have a very good academic reputation. I didn’t think my classes would be very hard at all.

I was coming from the yeshiva world. Even though I didn’t learn much, I knew that I was good at it. I was also of the belief that every academic endeavor paled in comparison to the rigors of Gemara. There was no question in my mind – the academic side of college would not be a challenge at all.

Things started out well. I was only taking two classes, and doing the reading as required. My first test was in U.S. History, about four weeks into the semester. I always suffered from severe test anxiety, even when I was in yeshiva. Although I was always very nervous about taking tests, the unbearable anxiety was in receiving the grades. I have always felt that component is beyond my control, especially on subjective tests, and I never liked it.

My professor handed back my exam, and fortunately for me, the grade was on the inside of the first page of the blue book. I decided not to look at it right away and put it in my backpack until I could gather the courage.

A couple of weeks passed. I couldn’t bring myself to look. In the interim, I took another test, this time in World History. I got the blue book back, and much to my chagrin, there was a big, red 66 staring at me on the front cover. For a fleeting moment, I was convinced that I was looking at the test upside down and that I had really scored a 99. No such luck. My grade was a 66, a D-.

I’ll never forget my bus ride home. I thought this test was it. I failed and I was done, and for good measure, I never should have tried this experiment in college education in the first place. I knew it was time to drop out. On a whim, I decided to take a look at that other exam. What difference could it make now?

Fortunately for me, that score was a B, not great, but not terrible. That turned out to be my saving lifeline. I had a reason to believe that I could still succeed. That night, I decided I would talk to my professors and find out if my college career was worth salvaging. I reviewed my tests so I could discuss the feedback the professors had given.

There was nothing memorable about the conversation I had with the World History professor. A lot of talk about expressing ideas and complete answers, but nothing that could answer the question I really needed answered: could I make it in college?

Even though I had done relatively well on the U.S. History test, my conversation with that professor was much more memorable. After discussing how I could improve my score, I asked him about that poor score in my other class. He told me there were no excuses in college: You have to produce without complaint or blaming anyone but yourself. On the way out, I asked him about one particular piece of feedback on my exam. He had written that one of my answers was too “nebulous.” I asked what nebulous meant. He shot back, “Mr. Shapiro, if you had such questions I would have expected you to look the word up before you came in to meet with me!”

In essence, that could have been the kind of conversation that encouraged me to drop out. No excuses means it was my fault I didn’t do well. I had all these excuses for my failure, ready to express in my head, but my professor clearly dismissed them all. Fortunately, that professor stoked my competitive side (football was good for something) and I decided to complete the semester and see what I could do. It couldn’t hurt because if I failed, I would be no worse off than having dropped out.

As it turned out, the World History professor was a visiting professor from Northwestern University, a top-tier school a few miles from NEIU. She had often remarked in class that we were not Northwestern material, and the test scores reflected that. Most of the class had done very poorly. I also realized that she wasn’t likely to fail the entire class.

The next challenge was with term papers. I had done very well in my history classes in yeshiva with the exception of my term papers. I had always struggled with those. In addition, I had no idea how to type, and my term papers had to be typed.

Part IV: Adjusting To College

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Realizing that there was no backing out of college at this point, I resigned myself to my fate. I was in college, like it or not, but I didn’t believe that I really belonged in college. I felt like a stranger, suddenly thrust into a weird, unknown world. The college culture was completely foreign to me, and I had no idea how to make sense of the things I was seeing and experiencing.

I was always afraid of standing out, worried that people would notice me and realize that I just didn’t belong. That perspective haunted me for years, even after I was actively engaged in the campus community. Throughout my undergraduate years, I never walked into a class late. If the class had already started, I’d skip the session rather than walk in and have all eyes focused on me (interestingly, I had no such hesitation about leaving classes early).

Even though it was a girl who had shamed me into walking into my first class, it was dealing with and relating to the women in my class that presented my first significant challenge. I had gotten very used to the idea of only having males in my class (including teachers in high school). This had been one of the root causes of my original college phobia. How would I relate to women in my age group, and more importantly, how would they relate to me?

I had no framework with which to relate to the women in my classes, and very little experience talking with women at all. I had often heard discussions about the decadent non-Jewish culture and how a complete lack of morality was the norm. That scared me at the time, although in retrospect, obese, bearded men with big cloth yarmulkes were not exactly all the rage among college coeds.

Because my experience with girls was so limited, I was used to being on my best behavior in their presence. I was used to projecting the kind of persona one would expect on a shidduch date. That kind of behavior is very hard to keep up over a long period of time, especially in a classroom setting in which I was already used to being a bit of a character.

It took me years to begin to relate with women in my class. My default reaction was to always pair with men in group projects and teams, and when a professor announced the highest class grade, my gut reaction was to wonder which of the men received that grade. Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) is a commuter campus. Students come and go through the day and there are no dorms. As such, the open level of immorality that one associates with college campuses wasn’t as stark at NEIU. However, I was aware of certain campus areas that had nicknames and “bad reputations,” even though I wasn’t quite sure what that meant exactly.

That being said, I clearly was clueless about some of the things going on around me. I once innocently floated the idea of a sleep area for students with long breaks between classes. It seemed like a perfect idea to me, and a way to provide a service to students who were frustrated at the long wait times between classes. It took me a few moments to understand the problem, especially after I persisted against the incredulous objections of my fellow student government members.

My ignorance and innocence did lead to a couple of humorous stories. I took Spanish as my foreign language requirement. The professor was young, probably only a few years older than her students, and attractive. One morning, in order to demonstrate some cultural differences (multiculturalism and political correctness were the rule of the day in the 1990’s), she decided to go around the class kissing all the students on the cheek – as she explained that was how people of Spanish decent greeted each other. As you can imagine, the sight of me backed up against the wall, arms crossed in front of me to ward her off got many a laugh. It must have been quite a sight. In the end, she bypassed me (a non-Jewish student sitting directly to my left did make a similar protest, pointing at me as an example, but he was ignored), but that was probably my single most embarrassing experience as an undergraduate. Another such situation came up when I was donating blood. At the time due to blood safety considerations, during screening, the donor was asked numerous questions about their moral behavior. Being uncomfortable with the line of questioning, as soon as the screener began, “Have you ever…” I would answer ‘no” without letting her finish the quesion. After a few such answers, she looked at me in a frustrated way and asked how I knew the answer before she finished the question.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/part-iv-adjusting-to-college/2012/02/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: