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I used to be a complainer

I used to be a Complainer

I used to be a complainer.  From our London home, my wife and I would write hundreds of letters of complaint each year to the BBC, independent TV stations, national newspapers, to MPs and the Prime Minister.  Each letter would defend Israel against some horrible slanderous attack that had just been perpetrated against the Jewish State by some anti-Zionist (read anti-Semitic) journalist or politician.  Constantly battling against the unredeemable enemy was no good for my health and in 2007 I took early retirement due to stress and made Aliya.

When we arrived in Israel, my wife first tried to talk me into writing a book about our previous work.  I responded repeatedly, “Who on earth is going to be interested in that?”  Eventually, my wife agreed that it would only have been of academic interest, or maybe have made an impact on just a few individuals.

Having settled into life in sleepy Netanya, I felt the need to keep active.  A spell of freelance work came to an end and although I was too old for any Israeli company to employ me, I realised that at 54 years of age I still had plenty to offer the country.  What should I do?

Then one day, I saw that a new book had been published.  “Start up Nation – The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” by Dan Senor and Saul Singer.  It literally blew me away.  I bought about a dozen copies for family members and memorised most of the material.  The facts within the book were amazing – back in the early 1990’s Israel was an economic “basket-case”.  Its currency was a joke.  Inflation was rampant.  But then suddenly everything started to go right.  Financial policy, Russian immigration, venture capital investment and entrepreneurship melded with Israel’s unique National Service prior to University and its people’s risk-taking approach and “just do it” attitude to get out of crises.

This was inspirational.  I wanted to shout about Israel’s achievements to the world.  And then I thought – hang on, this could also be the way to stifle growing attempts to de-legitimise the Jewish State.  Instead of always having to defend Israel, why not CHANGE the conversation.  We can stop making excuses to those who anyway never listen to the truth.  We can just talk about what great work Israel DOES perform.  If nothing else, it will alleviate my stress problems.

And so early in 2010 I started sifting through the week’s news and saving those stories that highlighted the best aspects of the Jewish State.  I set-up a “Good News Only” email group and found enough material to send out a weekly email of about a dozen stories.  It soon grew to 30 – 40 articles a week.  Thousands now receive the weekly emails. 

I have about 200 book-marked favorite websites that I check regularly for positive articles about Israel.  Several friends and family also send me emails with great stories.  But my most trusted partner is a wonderful piece of Israeli software called Genieo.  It records the websites I visit and then “suggests” to me articles of interest when those sites are updated.

I started my blog in May 2010 and it now receives over 4000 hits each month.  One of my one-off summaries “Boycotting Israel?  - Just Do It!” won me a regular position as a regular blogger on the Jerusalem Post on-line and I have published over 50 blogs since.

It’s difficult to know the impact.  Dozens of lovers of Israel tell me that the newsletter and the blogs are terrific.  The website gets hits from all over the world - Muslim and Arab states included.  There is a Christian pastor in The Netherlands who translates the newsletter into Dutch once every couple of months.  It was also translated into Spanish once, which led to several incomprehensible subscription requests.  WIZO use the material in their newsletter.  A blogger posts it on his facebook for 12,000 friends to read.  And on the small scale, one family in California sits around the table on Shabbat and each member of the family chooses a piece of news from the newsletter to read out.

I really would like my newsletter and blogs to reach a much wider audience.  However working alone, for no payment and with few marketing skills, I am very much in need of outside assistance.  Hey, but who’s complaining?

Please help promote positive messages about Israel to your family, friends and colleagues all over the world.  I often make the analogy of Israel being like a candle in the dark.  Those wishing to extinguish the Jewish State are the forces of darkness but the forces for “good” are the light.

Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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