Israelity is a group blog dedicated to providing a glimpse into everyday life in Israel.Want to know the real story behind living in Israel? Not the politics, the conflict, the security fence or disengagement from Gaza, but what it’s like for people going about their day to day lives in a country as full of cultural and social revolutions as Israel? Then welcome to ISRAEL21c’s new blog – Israelity.

What’s a blog? Over the past year, the influence of blogs reached new heights. As an emerging news trend, blogs provide information outside the mainstream news sources. Simply put: blogs are changing the face of communication.

For the uninitiated, a blog (shortened from ‘web log’), is essentially an online journal in which people share their ideas and thoughts on a specific topic. The sites are updated frequently, much like a log, hence the name.

Blogs offer anyone who wants, his or her own soapbox to write about what’s most relevant to them. Subjects range from arts and social issues to politics and technology and within each subject, perspectives are provided according to the author’s nationality, gender, age group, personal hobbies, etc.

Blogs also usually offer links to related sites, resources and other blogs of interest and often welcome comments by readers through posting boards. In a sense, blogs foster virtual communities between readers and bloggers from all over the globe around the subjects they discuss.

Israelity is a group blog dedicated to providing a glimpse into everyday life in Israel. ISRAEL21c has recruited bloggers from a variety of backgrounds and from different locations throughout Israel. Contributors include some who have been blogging for years as well as some relatively new to the ‘blogosphere.’

From a graduate student in Beersheba in the south to a marketing consultant living in a small village in the Galilee in the north and everywhere in between, Israelity contributors muse about their favorite restaurants, historical sites, holidays, Israeli cinema, authors and offer anecdotes about their daily lives.

“The launch of Israelity takes ISRAEL21c’s message to whole new audience. Using a blog is a great medium to tell the story of the 21st century Israel in a vibrant way that is not often found in the media,” said Larry Weinberg, Executive Vice President of ISRAEL21c.

The hoped for result is showing the readers a different side of the country than they read in their newspapers, but can a blog really change people’s impression of Israel? Dave L., author of the humorous Israel advocacy blog Israellycool thinks so.

“I have already come across cases of people, who were either anti-Israel or sitting on the fence with regards to the Middle East conflict, who are now staunchly pro-Israel through reading my blog and others,” Dave told ISRAEL21c.

Lisa Goldman, who often writes about her favorite haunts and her life in Tel Aviv at her blog On the Face, has had similar feedback.

“Quite a few people have written that my blog has altered their image of Israel. One woman in California wrote that she used to think of Israel simply as a place of conflict, and now she thinks of it as a place where there are savvy, worldly people she can relate to. Another woman from Slovenia wrote that she saw me and Allison [Kaplan Sommer, author of An Unsealed Room and Associate Editorial Director of ISRAEL21c] as modern anthropologists who present a more nuanced, realistic picture of Israel than the one that most people obtained via the conventional media.”

Goldman said she doesn’t see her blog as a mission in hasbara (advocacy) but rather as a creative writing outlet.

David Bogner, a resident of Efrat, who initially started his blog Treppenwitz as a forum for communicating with friends and family back in the US, believes that blogs have a minimal affect on hasbara because “people tend to choose blogs that agree with their world view or at least blogs that don’t conflict with their world view.”

But Bogner concedes that he has “slightly altered [the] perception of Israel and Israelis” by his non-Jewish readership, but doubts that that his readership would have started reading his blog if they were initially anti-Israel.

Imshin, a married mother of two, was one of the first Israelis to blog in English. Since June 2002, She posts anonymously at Not a Fish and said that her motivation to blog began after she came across an enormous amount of hatred towards Israel in the international media.

“I had to speak out but wasn’t sure how. I wrote a few letters to online newspapers but then I discovered blogs. The big surpirse was when I discovered people were actually reading what I had to say and finding it interesting,” Imshin told ISRAEL21c.

She also agrees with Bogner’s assessment about the reach of Israeli blogs, but hopes her blogging “gives [Israel’s] supporters abroad tools with which they can spread the word about what people in Israel really feel and what life really is like for Israelis.”

While the reasons for starting to blog are as different as what they experience in their daily lives, Israeli bloggers all have one thing in common – the need to correct the misconceptions people have about Israel. And that is why they agreed to contribute to Israelity.

“One of the most satisfying things about my experience as a blogger/journaler is being able to act as a catalyst for people outside of Israel,” said Bogner. “By this I mean that I help [international readers] see Israel and Israelis as more than some tragic place fraught with danger and conflict.

“Yes, when something bad happens here, they think of me [and others like me] instead of turning off the news. But moreover, they learn about ‘the other Israel’ from their relationship with me. Readers are reminded that people live here… work here… raise families here. They are reminded that for people living here, the conflict takes up only a very small part of our consciousness.”

Tired and bored of politics, Goldman has a similar outlook in that she wants to present an image of Israel that “is humanistic, universal and nuanced – one that is stripped of pontificating and political sloganeering.”

“I think that focusing on politics results in dehumanization – in destructive emotions like anger and blame,” she said. “In the end, society’s problems will be resolved by bringing the issues down to the human level, and by creating an atmosphere characterized by tolerance, mutual understanding and shared values. One way to contribute to the creation of such an atmosphere is by writing about events with which everybody can identify.”

Israelity invites readers to learn about life in all corners of Israel – North to South. Daily posts will offer individual experiences and tales of everyday life in Israel according to the people who really live it.

So come on in, and browse, be amused, be provoked, state your views by responding to one of the posts, and most of all, experience the robust discourse on Israelity, truly presenting life in Israel beyond the conflict.