It’s the IDC vs. BDS, Yep, ‘It’s Complicated’
Molly Livingstone Q&A with Aviv Sarel of "It's Complicated"
While the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict continues on, is there still hope to end the boycott war on Israel? Four students currently studying at IDC, The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, are ready to take on BDS. IDC Herzliya’s interdisciplinary programs equip students with in-depth knowledge in their areas of study and the ability to work effectively across disciplines including:degrees in law, business, government, computer science, communications, economics and psychology. Find out how their new website It’s Complicated is going to put Israel back on the map.
Q: Why did you choose to do your Masters in Israel and at IDC?
A: We are all Israelis living in Israel. The IDC gives a real opportunity and provides a combination of theoretical foundations and practical experience. IDC also supports open and creative thinking that is very suitable to our varied characteristics.
Q: Can you tell us about the four students behind this project?
A: We are a diverse group of students, a navy officer, an immigrant who moved to Israel 36 years ago, after graduating in communications from a Canadian university and a successful career in marketing for israeli hi-tech companies. One of the students in our group comes from a religious background in jerusalem, and today is working in the ad-tech industry. Finally to make up the mix. Finally to make up our group, we have a former assistant to the Israeli Ambassador to the US, who is presently a marketing manager.
Q: Why did you choose to call the website 'It's Complicated?'
A: Because it is.... :) Also, the "It's complicated" status is adopted from the Facebook world, in order to emphasize the complex and close relationship that we have with our neighbors.
Q: Why is the conflict more than just that, and a relationship? And a complicated relationship?
A: Both sides have been living in the same territory for the past century. During this time, much like in a relationship, we have developed complex issues that we have been unable to resolve, both opposite each other and also among ourselves. This complexity highlights the fact that there's no right or wrong when it comes to people. Each side believes they're the right side, and in the name of justice creates hurtful actions towards the opposite side. We live in a complicated world, in shades of gray rather than black or white. Our goal is to shed light upon the situation and present the many facets of the narrative.
Q: With lots of organizations trying to combat BDS, what makes your website unique?
A: While the Israeli Government is showing the fun part of Israel, or how bright and successful Israelis are, we believe they are avoiding the core issues that need to be acknowledged. Most of the people out there don't see Israel that way at all, on the contrary, they think Israel should be punished for its behavior towards the Palestinian. We understand them. These people don't receive enough information from the Israeli side to completely understand the situation and form a well founded opinion. As a result, the BDS has gotten support for many people who don't understand the complexity of living here and are making judgments based on a one sided view.
Our website is aimed to this point exactly. It represents a more rounded view and be a source of multi-faceted information. To reach this goal, we want to be rated high on the Google organic search and be present where Israel is in the most hostile place- under the keywords Boycott Israel and BDS.
Q: How do you plan to be in the top rankings on Google, when searching the keywords BDS and Boycott Israel?
A: We are looking for big exposure via news platforms of organizations such as yourself. Being professionals in the digital world, we understand the Google ranking methods, are working according to the SEO rules. Our site contains original content therefore Google will organically promote us, especially if we have the support of big websites that link to us.
Q: So, what’s the goal? How do you really plan to make a difference?
A: Our goal is reaching people who are interested in the conflict and want to get information about it. These people might be students, or even future leaders that are starting to build their agenda, that’s why we want to be present at that moment, and hoping to make even a small change in their opinion.
Q: What do you want Jews around the world to know about Israel?
A: We want people, Jews and non Jews around the world that do not live in Israel, to understand that this conflict hurts everyone, both sides. It's a hard relationship that has been present in our lives for so long that we can't imagine life without it. We want people to see that the BDS movement is trying to boycott Israel, by telling only their side without exposing the real, multi-faceted truth. That we both are hurting in this conflict. This needs to be acknowledged, because life is full of complexities.
Q: How do you combat BDS without just sounding like propaganda or Hasbara for the government?
A: We are not looking for a way to defend Israel. Our goal is to point out the complexity of the issue and try to expose the 'one-sidedness' as not being representational of the true issues. The Israeli government would not take that on as Hasbara. They are only calling the BDS movement as Anti-Semitic.
We believe the BDS movement does not represent the full and true facts. We hope our project can help do that, expose a more rounded and realistic view, and remind the viewers that Israelis and Palestinians are human, they want to live quietly like everybody else and are not interested more wars. Both sides have suffered enough.
Aviv Sarel is the former assistant to the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren (today MK) in Washington DC. Today she is working on her Masters in Communications and new media at IDC. Twitter @avivsarel www.boycott-Israel.net