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Netanyahu. Encouraged aliyah
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

First Jewish bloggers summit convenes in capital

Kosher blog writers gather in Jerusalem for conference on Judaism, Zionism, aliyah with participation of blog-savvy MK Netanyahu, who encouraged participants to immigrate to Israel

Around 200 Jewish bloggers of all ages from around the world gathered in Jerusalem on Wednesday in honor of the first Jewish Zionist blog convention, organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh, a foundation that promotes immigration to Israel from the US, Canada, and the UK.

 

Jewish patriots that currently reside outside of Israel named Jewlicious, West Bank Mama, Israpundit, and the like met in person for the first time since beginning their online journals. Six hundred other bloggers who couldn't make it to the event watched it live online.

 

On their way to make aliyah, 240 additional people also boarded the planes packed with bloggers. Renana Levine, one of the convention's organizers, said that Nefesh B'Nefesh has been responsible for the aliyah of around 15,000 people in its six short years of existence.

 

The foundation attempts to ease the new immigrants' inevitable clash with Israel's arduous bureaucracy and helps them to obtain employment. Currently their success is undisputable, as 94% of the olim who have so far arrived with the program are working citizens.

 

The organization decided to cooperate with the Jewish blogosphere upon discovering that there was no better way to promote Israel than through blogs. Their writers are not connected to any official agency, which makes them more reliable, and they describe their everyday lives normally, without bombs, camels, or other stereotypical images usually related to Israel.

 

"There are cases in which people say they immigrated to Israel because of blogs, and I can mention Benji Levitt's blog, 'What Warzone', which has shattered a number of myths about camels and constant war in the streets. Because of him, at least three olim that we know of have arrived in Israel," Levine said.

 

The worldwide Jewish blogger community exists in a sphere almost totally disconnected from the Israeli and Arab blogger community, as the latter usually appear in spots such as Tapuz and Israblog, while the former use sites such as BlogPost, LiveJournal, and WordPress.

 

Within this sphere they discuss subjects such as modern Judaism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the appreciation of their ratings. The blogs incorporate old Yiddish and 'leet' (a type of internet argot), and many of the bloggers read the hip Jewish magazine 'Heeb' to keep up with the banter.

 

'This is your country'

Among the bloggers who spoke at the summit was former prime minister and current opposition leader, Knesset Member Benjamin Netanyahu, who posts his blog under a Creative Commons (CC) license, meaning anyone can use the contents he publishes. "I opened a blog and found it to be a great medium, but the problem is that it requires too much free time, or shadow writers," he said.

 

Netanyahu claimed that during his time as prime minister the internet's vast potential for the promotion of Israel throughout the world remained a vastly untapped resource, explaining that the web was not as influential then.

 

"Make aliyah, this is your country and your city – and it will remain this way," he told those present amid storming applause. But most of the bloggers who attended the conference had arrived in order to visit relatives or improve social ties rather than to relinquish their previous lives in the Diaspora.

 

"When people ask me if I'm making aliyah I say 'not yet' in Hebrew because I feel that this is the right answer for now," says Esther Kostnovitch, who runs blogs such as 'JDaters Anonymous' and 'My Urban Kvetch'.

 

"I am very much in favor of aliyah, but I feel that I write so much about Israel and take such an interest in Israel not least because I don't yet live here."

 


פרסום ראשון: 08.22.08, 14:16
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