Yoseph Haddad, 38, has gained significant recognition in recent weeks. It might be more fitting to label him as the "nation's savior", considering the lack of accurate and poignant advocacy. His partner, Emily Schrader, 32, who moved to Israel from the United States in 2015, might not be a household name in Israel, but her reputation extends globally. As an activist, she has dedicated years to elucidating facts about Israel. Even today, she consistently shares informative videos and engages with international media outlets in interviews.
Emily began her pro-Israeli advocacy in Los Angeles with Stand with Us, a Jewish-American NGO. After making Aliyah, she co-founded Social Lite Creative, which provides advocacy against antisemitism and is also a freelance journalist, writing for Ynetnews, among others.
With over a decade of experience combating antisemitism online, Schrader has been targeted by an Iranian newspaper who on Twitter declared that she is a Mossad operative. She has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, and her videos reach millions worldwide. Additionally, she works with British, Canadian and American legislators in order to promote the subjects that she cares about.
Haddad makes a living as an i24NEWS correspondent, where he has been working for three years, and also by giving lectures. A pro-Israeli stalwart, he has been engaged in advocacy around the world through a foundation he has started. “The foundation was established in order to bridge the gap between Arabs and Jews and to make sure that Arabs feel welcome in Israeli society. We have thousands of registered members and hundreds of volunteers. Ever since October 7, there has been a 50% spike in requests of those who wish to volunteer with us,“ he says.
With both Haddad and Schrader, advocacy comes across as intelligent and knowledgeable, but there’s another element that is quite evident, and that is passion. They allow themselves to get enthralled, enthusiastic, and sometimes angry, in order to get their point across. “When I saw her videos in which she was yelling at the Iranian regime, I fell in love with her even more,“ says Haddad.
Is it healthy to get so worked up so often? You take things in Israel almost personally. “There is absolutely a personal element to this,“ says Yoseph. “When BDS and the rest of the anti-Israeli movements use my country and my identity as an Israeli Arab in order to incite and spread misinformation, I cannot remain silent. We can absolutely debate the West Bank and Gaza, but don’t throw the 'apartheid' label in my face. I commanded both Jewish and Arab soldiers in the IDF, and I go on a bus, and I sit wherever I wish.
"When I arrive with other Arabs or Druze to panels all around the world, and the room is filled with anti-Israeli activists, they’re absolutely certain they’re there for a meeting with Arabs who feel occupied, and that we intend to promote their cause by adding our own anti-Israel advocacy, but then they hear we’re actually pro-Israeli, which throws them off. They’re not exactly sure what they’re supposed to do. And then we tell them 'We’re the ones who live there, not you.'“
How do you come across in the Arab sector? The whole Stockholm syndrome thing doesn’t come across? Aren’t you labeled as a traitor? “I’ve been called much worse than a traitor. The more lies are spread about me the more adamant I become. This is my country, and I’m a citizen. Not everything is perfect, as racism and discrimination do exist, but the way to solve these issues is by working together. people who live in Israel and advocate against it, are those who I consider to be the most hypocritical. They have this syndrome of blindness and self-deception. Arab lawmakers, who speak ill of Israel, will never be able to do so in Syria and stay alive. When students at Tel Aviv University rally for Palestine and against normalization, I tell them, 'hey, you are in the middle of normalization, you are getting an Israeli degree'."
It seems the Arab sector has also been shook by the events of October 7. “My phone has been blowing up with messages of support from Israeli Arabs. There was a guy who threatened me a few times, and suddenly sent a message, begging to speak to me. When we spoke, he told me things have finally connected for him, and that he doesn’t want to live under a terrorist organization. On October 7, Arabs were murdered, including Bedouins, who saved Jews while being under fire. Our sector is also part of civil engagement, which occurs in this country right now. They donate, they volunteer, they work at restaurants and send food to the south. It is important that Israeli society embraces the moderate voices within the Arab sector, rather than generalize them as an enemy.“
Emily, have women come on to Yoseph since he became a megastar? "Well people know we are together, so there’s not really many women who try to hit on him or something, But even if they did, I don't care and I’m not worried. We are very open with each other about everything."
Yoseph: "Emily is quite humble, but I can tell you she's become one of the most prominent voices against the Iranian regime. In LA, she's the star. We were at a massive demonstration there and we were stopped every second because people wanted to speak to her. Either way, we don't view ourselves as celebrities. We've been engaged in advocacy for years and we're good at it, but when the war erupted, we became much busier.
"We're both humble and grounded people. It's the way we were brought up. when people come up to me and praise my work, it's a million times more valuable than being an official minister of advocacy."
Those close to you aren't worried? Emily: "My family is very worried. I can hear the concern in their voice in conversation."
Yoseph: "If before the war, my mom and I would speak once every few days, now it's two calls and several WhatsApp messages a day. She keeps track of everything I do."
Fans of Margaret Thatcher
With both involved in advocacy, it was a matter of time before they met. "I heard about him two years before we began dating," she says. "I've read his interviews and we have mutual friends. I wanted him as a client. I thought that if we got to know each other, he'd hire me to do social media for his foundation. I invited him for Happy Hour with some friends of mine."
Yoseph, did you know back then you're interested in her? Emily: "He totally was into me."
Yoseph: "She's my type. American, blonde, smart, but I only started falling in love when we began debating. That sealed the deal. Intelligence is critical. She knows how to counter me. I remember she left me slack-jawed and I realized I was in love."
Emily: "All my life I've been debating (competitive debate). I'm good at it, and suddenly there's someone here just as good as me. I don't remember what we argued about, but he impressed me with the way he conducted the conversation and the arguments he made. I said 'OK, he's interesting'. I asked him which historical figures he liked. He answered Martin Luther King and Margaret Thatcher. I told him, 'Are you messing with me?'"
Are you guys messing with me? Emily: "I'm a big fan of hers. My cat is even named Margaret. I spoke to my mother on the phone and said to her, 'What are the odds that Yoseph, an Arab from Nazareth, really likes Margaret Thatcher! Maybe someone told him and he's trying to impress me, or maybe I have found someone really special here?'"
Yoseph: "I see Thatcher within Emily. I realized I had to have her. Emily, that is. We make each other better. When you have a partner who is focused and determined, it makes you want to catch up."
Emily: "We started dating, but we didn't define it. We didn't say 'we're dating'. It just happened. We enjoyed spending time together, and then it got serious."
How did your families react to your relationship? Emily: "There’s no problem. My family loves him."
Yoseph: "My parents see Emily as a daughter. Sometimes when we debate, they take her side over mine."
The couple got engaged during Operation Guardian of the Walls in May 2021. During a shared working trip to the Gaza border region, Haddad took a knee and proposed, but not before traditionally seeking her father's blessing. Yoseph shared, "We were visiting Texas, where her parents currently live. After Emily had gone to bed, I stayed up to have a conversation with her parents. I expressed to them, 'I wish to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage.'"
Emily: "I already wanted him to propose to me. We talked about it, and I was like 'okay when'?!'"
Yoseph: "I had already bought the ring during our trip to the United States. The plan was to propose during a joint article at the UN building, where instead of posing a journalistic question, I would ask her to marry me. The ring was in my jacket, but we ran out of time and were urged to wrap up. I also couldn't propose during the article we did in Washington.
"We returned to Israel, Operation Guardian of the Walls started, and when we went down south, I informed the director and cameraman that I was going to propose to her on camera this time. I proposed with soldiers and police in the background and amid the noise of Air Force jets bombing Gaza. During this war, the image of me proposing to Emily was circulated as if it had just happened."
So when is the wedding? Yoseph: "Initially, the wedding was postponed due to COVID. Later, we had already booked a hall in Haifa, but then Emily was invited to speak at the American Congress about antisemitism, so it got pushed back again. The wedding is still yet to take place. Regardless of whether it's official or not, we are as committed to each other as possible."
Any thoughts about kids? What kind of identity will they adopt? Emily: "They will of course have a background and an understanding of (all) of who they are. You can't escape that."
Yoseph: "They'll be Israeli patriots. I can promise you that."
Emily: "If it was up to Yoseph, he’d have a whole soccer team!"
Yoseph smiles: "Eleven boys."
Emily: "Maccabi Haddad!"