How young people view Israel matters-- its future lies in their hands.
Which is why Joanna Landau-an expert in country branding and influencer marketing- founded the non-profit Vibe Israel a decade ago. Landau, who lives in Tel Aviv, wanted to bring influencers to Israel to see the country for themselves, and then post their impressions about it. The result? A billion positive mentions about Israel on social media.
Landau teamed up with Deerfield-based Michael Golden-a Jewish journalist, author, changemaker in the field of community-college education, and a former Anti-Defamation League staffer-to write a book about ways to inspire the next generation about Israel.
Ethical Tribing: Connecting the Next Generation to Israel in the Digital Era
(Best Seller Publishing, LLC), the book guides readers through the steps necessary to successfully counter one of the greatest threats facing the Jewish people today: a younger generation decreasingly connected to both Israel and their Jewish identity.
"Tribing," a word coined by the authors, is the concept of people forming groups or tribes around shared values and interests. Landau and Golden hope to encourage younger Jews to "tribe" around Israel. Here's how: There are "core narratives of Israel's story that are proven to appeal highly to millennials and Gen Z," Landau said. "We need to provide them positive, inspiring content. But it must be done in an ethical way that does not try to change their worldviews."
As a reporter, the idea of advocating for Israel through stories comes naturally to Golden. His passion for the Jewish community was awakened in a college history class, and bolstered when he later interviewed Holocaust survivors and traveled to Israel.
Savvy and ethical marketing and branding, say the authors, can help facilitate tribing-for good. They argue that using the same social media tools, such as targeted messaging, that have been implemented to alienate young people from Israel can be used to forge positive Israel connections instead. Key to the process, the authors say, is avoiding discussion around religion or politics, and the use of political jargon.
The authors are driven by a trend they find troubling-the erosion of the connection that millennial and Gen Z Jews feel to both Israel and Jewish life. The core problem, they say, is apathy.
"When you look at the polls, the issue is less a negative view of Israel, and more an indifference to it," Landau said. "We have a great amount of pride in being Jewish, but we cannot rely on the earlier generations' expectations that Jewish kids will feel a connection, just because we did. We have to give them a reason to feel they belong."
For Golden, the greatest Jewish stories all seem to have the same moral: "The common tie that binds us is the pride we take in our unlikely survival." The Jews have survived much worse, he says, and can survive the challenges posed and magnified by social media-if we can make it work for us, not against us.
is available at ethical-tribing.com. Learn more about Vibe Israel at vibeisrael.com.