HelpUsWin.org

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HelpUsWin.org is an online pro-Israel campaign linked to the Israeli government.

The campaign's website describes it as "a grassroots initiative led by top bloggers and volunteers, powered by StandWithUs and the IDC Herzliya."[1]

According to the Jerusalem Post, the campaign was founded by students concerned at the reaction to the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip in early 2009, operation Cast Lead.

HelpUsWin.org is manned by social media experts and Israel activists around the clock, with the main "situation room" based at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, and sponsored by the Stand With Us education organization. Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information.
Students and volunteers have been monitoring and responding to social media Web sites worldwide in several languages, to mount a public diplomacy offensive for Israel on the Internet.[2]

The JTA gave this account of the project:

StandWithUs, a Los Angeles-based pro-Israel group, has established a round-the-clock Internet task force -- in cooperation with the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel -- to monitor Web sites and provide instant responses to attacks on the Jewish state. Some 15 to 20 volunteers staff two situation rooms, in Herzliya and Jerusalem, that promote pro-Israel content on social networking Web sites, respond to online opinion polling and try to alter the tenor of discussions in Internet chat rooms.
The group also has launched a Web site, HelpUsWin.org, that provides links to public opinion polls on the conflict, online articles in need of response and ideas to integrate pro-Israel symbols with profiles on sites such as Facebook. It also features pictures and videos that highlight Hamas' indoctrination of children and the humanity of Israeli soldiers.[3]

The IDC Herzliya gave this account:

Help Us Win was an online Israeli hasbara project sponsored by the Sammy Ofer School of Communications and the RRIS, and run together with Stand With Us, during Operation Cast Lead. Working with Stand With Us, the school’s dean, Dr. Noam Lemelshtrich-Latar and Major Reserve Jonathan Davis of the IDC, prepared the IDC students with relevant information that would help their cause. Asaf Talmor-Wertheimer, CEO and Co-Founder, Atarim Group Ltd. took time from work to join the Help Us Win cause as one of the group leaders.[4]

Another JTA report in Jewish Herald-Voice added an American angle:

The task force was set up at the Israel offices of StandWithUs and IDC Herzliya, in coordination with the IDC Raphael Recanati International School, the Sammy Ofer School of Communications and the Asper New Media Fellowship. Another special “Web Situation Room” has been set up at the Jerusalem headquarters of StandWithUs. The efforts are coordinated with StandWithUs’ New York office, which is spearheading the U.S. Internet offensive.[5]

In his LinkedIn resumé, participant Niv Calderon described the project as follows:

social media presence and crisis management for the Israeli Forign Ministry during operation Cast Lead in Dec' 08 and Jan' 09.[6]

According to PBS.org, Calderon was hired by StandWithUs in the opening days of the conflict:

Niv Calderon, 29, commanded an Israeli social media war room. The day before the war broke out, he was worried about his high-tech start up and moving apartments. But once bombs began falling, he dropped his daily activities and connected himself with Stand With Us, a U.S.-based Israel advocacy group. They hired him to organize an ad-hoc social media "command center" to promote a pro-Israel viewpoint.
"It wasn't about the money at all. I would have done it for free. It was all from the heart," Calderon told me in an interview. Calderon's first step was to organize a group of about 20 media-savvy internationals who spoke French, German, Dutch, Russian, English and Spanish and were willing to go AWOL from their day jobs for a few weeks.[7]

Calderon issued the following appeal on Facebook and on his website on 29 December 2008:

Things we need right now:
1- We're building our personnel lists now so we need a list of people you know who are willing to donate their time and passion for this cause. we need the list with these columns filled up: full name, phone, email, twitter, facebook, blog, field of specialty, languages.[8]

He provided a further update on HelpUsWin's activities on 1 January 2009:

So what have we been doing so far?
Fighting the "First Social War" made us realize we are fighting a multi-platform, multi-language, cross-cultural, cross-technology battle. Two days ago(Tuesday) I took part in building the Jerusalem Social Media Situation Room for the recent Israel Hamas conflict. Yesterday I've joined forces (along with other friends) with the second situation room in the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya which generously hosts us and let us use its facilities, personnel and connections.[9]

The post highlighted the following activities:

This is what we've got so far:
1- A blog: Help Us Win. The center of attention.
2- A multi language Status Report center that can show you (currently in English and French) what's going on all over the social web, divided to tabs for the different subjects and languages.
3- A Recruiting System - please register if you wanna help.
4- a Twitter account.
5- Two Facebook groups, in English and French.
6- A Press Releases Blog for government and IDF press releases. They should be more available anyway.[10]

According to Calderon, the tools used by HelpUsWin up to this point included: Gmail, Google Docs, Wordpress, Tumblr, Picasa Web, Netvibes, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Wufoo Forms.[11]

Calderon issued a further appeal on 3 January.

I'm now working on a paper to produce new goals, new destinations, new ideas on how to stand in our online multi-lingual, multi-cultural battle.
This is where I need you.
1- I'm looking for social thinkers from across the globe to produce breakthrough ideas and that can get them done for us.
2- I'm looking for SEO and SEM experts for advice and implementation.
3- I'm looking for cartoon artists for a project we want to create.[12]

People

External Resources

Notes

  1. Help Us Win, accessed 18 June 2009.
  2. Jessica Freiman, IDC students work to win media war, Jerusalem Post, 4 January 2009.
  3. Ben Harris and Joshua Spiro, Israel activists blending new, traditional tactics in PR battle, jta.org, 13 January 2009.
  4. Help Us Win - IDC Guerrilla Bloggers Fight war online, OPERATION CAST LEAD: IDC RESPONDS, The IDC Herzliyan, Spring 2009.
  5. JTA, Leading the Internet battle for Israel, Jewish Herald-Voice, 8 January 2009.
  6. Niv Calderon, linkedin.com, accessed 19 June 2009.
  7. Jaron Gilinsky, How Social Media War Was Waged in Gaza-Israel Conflict, Mediashift, PBS.org, 13 February 2009.
  8. Niv Calderon, Help Israel on Social Media: 1, nivcalderon.com, 12 December 2008.
  9. Niv Calderon, Help Israel on Social Media: 2, nivcalderon.com, 1 january 2009.
  10. Niv Calderon, Help Israel on Social Media: 2, nivcalderon.com, 1 january 2009.
  11. Niv Calderon, Help Israel on Social Media: 2, nivcalderon.com, 1 january 2009.
  12. Niv Calderon, Helping Israel on Social Media: 3, nivcalderon.com, 3 January 2009.