Social Media Influencers Emily Schrader, Yoseph Haddad Discuss Israel Activism at WIZO Event
Social media influencers Emily Schrader and Yoseph Haddad discussed their pro-Israel activism at Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) California event on June 20.
Speaking at The Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Schrader, who is originally from Palos Verdes, said she grew up “nominally pro-Israel” and didn’t understand that people hated Israel until she saw an “apartheid wall” while she was a student at USC. She proceeded to join a pro-Israel group on campus. “I was really seeing the extremism on the other side that was pushing me to be more involved and more vocal,” Schrader told Kimberly Brooks, the event moderator, adding that she’s been seeing a lot of criticism of Israel “crossing that line into antisemitism.” “We have to keep fighting that fight,” she said.
Schrader went to graduate school at Tel Aviv University and returned to Los Angeles only to realize that she wanted to go back to Israel, so she made Aliyah seven years ago and has lived in Tel Aviv ever since. She currently writes and is involved with various podcasts and video projects with Haddad, her fiancé. They co-host a podcast together called “Headlines with the Haddads.” Schrader also touted a recent video on her Instagram page highlighting corruption in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
Haddad, an Israeli Arab, spoke about how he spent his childhood going back and forth between Haifa (where he was born) and Nazareth, where he was raised. When he would visit family in Haifa, he would play soccer with kids who were Jews, Arabs, Christians, Druze and Muslims, which then turned into real friendships. “At that age you don’t really care about Jews or Arabs,” Haddad said. “You just want to play together.” The soccer friends would eventually visit each other’s families during the holidays to learn about their traditions and culture. “I realized that the vision to the Israeli society should be exactly like I had in my childhood,” he said.
Haddad volunteered to serve in the Israel Defense Force despite the fact that Arabs are exempt from Israel’s mandatory military service because he wanted to protect his country and society; he felt even more validated with his decision after a Palestinian female suicide bomber attacked a Haifa restaurant in October 2003 that was co-owned by Arabs and Jews. The bombing killed 21 people, which included both Arabs and Jews. “Terrorism doesn’t discriminate,” Haddad said.
In response to allegations that Israel is an apartheid state, Haddad points to the fact he, an Israeli Arab, was an IDF commander overseeing Jewish soldiers. “Is that a sentence I could say if Israel was an apartheid state?” Haddad said to applause. He added that when he was in the IDF there were only a handful of Arabs; today there are “thousands.” Haddad and Schrader have traveled internationally to explain to people that Israel is not an apartheid state; one notable video was of him debating YouTuber Ali Dawah in London.
Schrader further discussed the U.N.’s hypocrisy against Israel, pointing to how North Korea recently became the head of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament while the U.N. obsesses over the Jewish state. “The hypocrisy is mind boggling,” Schrader said.
She added that the U.N.’s recent commission of inquiry against Israel was supposed to only focus on the 2021 Operation Guardian of the Walls but instead served as a “list of complaints about Israel,” including efforts to blame Israel for “Palestinian-on-Palestinian domestic violence.” When looking into the report’s sources for such a claim were other U.N. reports making similar allegations––meaning the sourcing was circular.
Haddad also talked about how he runs the organization Together—Vouch For Each Other, which focuses on building bridges between Arab-Israelis and other Israelis. He acknowledged that Israel isn’t perfect but there are “so many good things” about the Jewish state that people don’t want to talk about because they “have an agenda.”
Haddad recalled speaking to Harvard’s political science department where he asked to be introduced simply as being someone from Israel. While he was speaking, a student stood up and said they were “disappointed” with Haddad because they “expect any Jew” to talk up Israel––only to embarrassed when Haddad revealed that he’s an Israeli-Arab.
Consul General of Israel to the Pacific Southwest Dr. Hillel Newman also spoke at the event, explaining the importance for Israel to win the public-relations battle on social media in an era of “shorter and shorter” attention spans.