Meet Pascaline Wagemans from Belgium, Simon Baaske from Austria and Danielle Gershon from the United States. All of them are studying at Israeli universities this year.
Why did they decide to attend college in Israel and what do they think about life here? They’re explaining all that in Onliners, a new vlog produced by Students For Israel, a group of 23 diverse college students under the banner of the National Union of Israeli Students.
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The idea is to use online social media to present an authentic youthful perspective on the “real” Israel in response to hate materials and misinformation in cyberspace. Onliners isn’t any sort of official hasbara PR shtick. It’s a raw look at Israel for both outsiders and insiders.
As Pascaline says, “People are super-surprised when there is a non-Jew who is not afraid to come to your country.”
The three stars of Onliners are posting a new video every week during the three-month summer semester, featuring their frank and unbiased answers to questions about why they’re here and what they’re experiencing or observing about Israel socially, culturally, academically and economically. The clips get minimal editing before being uploaded weekly to visual platforms including Facebook and YouTube.
In the first episode, which lasts six-and-a-half minutes, the three students introduce themselves and what they hope their project will accomplish.
Says Danielle, “The main goal is to allow the world to see a different image than what the media portrays.”
Simon relates that he applied to Onliners because “I kind of like the idea that someone is here, he’s seeing things, he’s perceiving them and there’s no agenda behind it.”
The project leaders hope to influence mainly those viewers who don’t yet have a concrete opinion about Israel and the Jewish people.
I’ll be blogging about each episode on Israelity, so stay tuned.