VIDEO - In almost every Arab country, threats, curses or swears are heard when Israel
is mentioned. But in this sea of hostility there is now a new ray of light: Breastfeeding training videos in Arabic by Clalit Health Services, an Israeli health maintenance organization, are gain tremendous popularity in countries which have mostly been fighting Israel in the past few decades.
About six months ago, Clalit uploaded a series of YouTube training videos on a variety of topics: Breastfeeding, pregnancy monitoring, early detection of diseases, preparation for routine checkups and physical therapy. For the benefit of the Arab community who are members of Clalit Health Services, the videos were also posted in Arabic.
Months went by, and recently Clalit officials noticed that the number of video views is relatively very high compared to the number people in Israel. They then discovered an extremely surprising figure: Out of the 1.1 million views only 45,000 were from Israel, while the rest were from neighboring Arab countries, as well as from more distant ones.
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The highest number of viewership so far was recorded in Saudi Arabia: 560,166. Egypt
is second with 168,900 views, followed by Iraq
with 89,999 entries, Morocco with 71,213, Algeria with 65,505 and Jordan
with 42,000 entries.
Even bleeding Syria
took interest in the videos: 11,000 entries were reported so far from the civil-war-struck country.
Almost all entries were to videos dealing with breastfeeding. And the Arab community does not simply watch the videos, but also engages in them: Clalit reports that many users from Arab countries comment on the videos and even provide encouragement.
"Thank you for the useful advice," wrote surfer Fatima, with many others writing supportive comments to a similar effect.
Clalit officials are quite surprised and pleased by this phenomenon. "We never imagined there would be so much viewership beyond our borders," says Lior Wolff, who heads the development of e-health services for Clalit.
"It is far beyond the viewership statistics of the target audience in Israel. We believe in promoting the health of the community anywhere, without borders or boundaries, and so we are pleased to contribute to the health of Arab countries. Perhaps through breastfeeding we can help construct a dialogue based on compassion, concern and love."