Israel Be Active Program in The Press

Telfed magazine September 2015 (Rosh Hashana) telfed

HOT connections

By David Kaplan

Working as a qualified architect in Jerusalem, Netania still finds time to indulge in her other true love – “apart from Eli” – of promoting Israel.

Born in Johannesburg, Netania came on Aliyah with her family in 1994 at the age of six. Living for two years on Kibbutz Shluchot before moving to Shoham, Netania was active in Bnei Akiva working her way up from being a madricha to working for World Bnei Akiva and the Jewish Agency, involved mainly with overseas groups touring Israel. She continues in this field with Israel Connection which has as its mission, “connecting Diaspora Jewry with Israel,” says Netania. “It never ceases to fascinate me to see how tourists, particularly those seeing Israel for the first time, respond to the experience,” says Netania. Arriving young, “I did not see what my parents saw when they made the decision to make Aliyah, so I am always focused on what is that magic that ignites those passions in people towards Israel.”hot-connections

Frequently, “it is the little things.” Netania sites examples how visitors pickup on the “festive imagery on the Coca Cola bottles during Pesach or husbands buying flowers before Shabbat. These may be small issues which we in Israel take for granted but for visitors they get to really feel what it is like to experience living in a Jewish State.”

Clueless

The purpose of Netania’s visit to Canada and the USA was to address school kids in a number of cities on “how the world sees Israel.” Through the use of video clips and games “I showed how negative impressions about Israel arise through the media.” One example was of a video taken at UCLA where students were randomly stopped and asked questions about the Middle East. “It exposed how students at a top university were clueless.” Asked to name the only true democracy in the Middle East, “the only one named was Iraq.” When asked “What is Hamas?” all thought it was a type of food, “confusing it with Hummus.”

Other cases she presented were the news reports on the fatal 2014 terror attack on the synagogue in Har Nof. “We showed a clip of CNN initially reporting that it was an attack on a mosque in Israel. We also showed an article from the Guardian that had removed all references to Palestinians from the text, writing only that “two men” had perpetrated the attack, and a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article headlined, “Jerusalem police fatally shoot two after apparent synagogue attack,” implying that most of the culpability lay with the Israeli police for responding to the attack.”

With exposure to this type of reporting, “all the young students agreed that news consumers would likely blame Israel and see it as the perennial aggressor.”
Next up for Netania “apart from designing buildings” is designing an Israel Leadership Summer Camp for 2016, “where we are working with many organisations and expect a good attendance from all over the world. We hope to have participants from South Africa.”

Architect Netania is helping to “build” Israel in moreways than one!

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