A web exclusive, Dr Oboler speaks with the Jewish Week about Tweeting For Shalit

Sharon Udasin, WEB EXCLUSIVE: Tweeting For Shalit, The Jewish Week, 25 August 2009

In the next 24 hours, pro-Israel Tweeters are expected to come out in thousands for the Tweet4Shalit campaign, showing their support for kidnapped Israeli Defense Force Cpl. Gilad Shalit, in honor of his upcoming 23rd birthday.

Shalit, who was captured by Hamas in the summer of 2006, will spend his birthday with the terrorist group for the fourth year, and supporters across the world continue to advocate for his release. Standing in solidarity with Shalit, Twitter users will add the hashtag “#GiladShalit” to their 140-character messages on Aug. 26, in an effort organized by the Jewish Internet Defense Force, an activist group that cracks down on anti-Semitic online content.

“Thousands of supporters are signing onto Twitter to tweet the hashtag ‘#GiladShalit’ with the goal of making Gilad a top 10 Twitter ‘Trending Topic’ and thus, we hope to raise awareness of Gilad Shalit’s situation,” said David Appletree, the founder of the group, which calls itself the JIDF. “We want the world to act and we want Gilad Shalit to be free.”

The event will span Aug. 26 in its entirety, no matter what time zone, and he encourages users to keep tweeting the hashtag all day. Appletree is confident that the campaign will reach an audience far wider than the Jewish community, including many Christians, Hindus and others who continually support the JIDF’s efforts, he said.

“Over the past year, the JIDF has built up a reach of over 100,000 savvy Internet users, so we anticipate that our supporters will create a strong foundation for this campaign, as they do for others,” Appletree added.

As the event kicks off hour by hour around the world, experts are excited to see how events will unfold and are hopeful about the turnout.

“It’s a great initiative the whole the community can easily support and organization as far apart as New York, London, Melbourne and Jerusalem are working together,” said Andre Oboler, new media scholar and founder of the Zionism On The Web site. “This is a viral campaign waiting to happen. … It’s going to be huge!”

“That said,” he continued, “I’m off to Tweet that we spoke about it and see who replies.”

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