IN THE MEDIA
Activism power couple explain their mission – and the threats they face
Feb 28, 2023
J-Wire Newsdesk – February 23, 2023
A power couple in activism for human rights and coexistence, Yoseph Haddad and Emily Schrader spoke passionately about their work in combatting antisemitism and racism at an AIJAC media briefing held last week.
In Australia as guests of the ZDVO – Beit Halochem Australia, Haddad is a Christian Israeli Arab, injured IDF soldier and social activist who is the founder and CEO of Together – Vouch For Each Other, an organisation that aims to bridge the gap between young Israeli Arabs – Christians, Muslims, Bedouin and Druze – and Israel’s wider society.
Schrader is a social media strategist, journalist and global advocate for both peace and security for Israel and for women’s rights, who is also renowned for her work to combat antisemitism in the social media sphere and beyond.
At the briefing, Haddad stated that fostering relationships between Israeli Jews and the Israeli Arab community was integral and the “key” to providing a solution to the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Reflecting on the fact that Arab-Israelis currently comprise 20% of Israel’s medical professionals – similar to their percentage of Israel’s population as a whole – he urged that this ratio should be the case across the board in Israeli society. He said that faced with extremists from both sides trying to control the narrative, he felt he could not stay silent and decided to establish Together – Vouch for Each Other in 2018, providing a forum and community he said many Israeli Arabs were “thirsty” to receive.
Haddad’s creed – “I want every Jew and every Arab in Israel to feel Israeli” – has come at considerable personal cost to Haddad, who frequently faces threats to himself and to his family.
“We have a huge problem when it comes to Arab-Israeli leaders. Instead of working for us, they are working for the Palestinians. Why do we vote for them? The Arab society is a weak society. They don’t want us to integrate.
“Despite the challenges and despite the threats, it’s important for us to move forward to unite society,” Haddad said. “We can always go outside Israel and defend Israel, but if Israeli society is not strong, then Israel is not strong,” he stated.
Speaking about the support he needs for his efforts to succeed, he explained that the wider community can do this in the following three ways: “support us, don’t be sceptical, and be patient.”
Schrader spoke about the preponderance of disinformation on social media mostly issuing from China, Russia and Iran at a state level, that intensified following Israel’s military operation in Gaza in May 2021. She stated that, since then, a new level of antisemitism has emerged that had not been seen before, which was not just targeting Israel, but Jews outside Israel as well.
Schrader recounted her campaign to urge social media platforms to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, and its importance in helping to fight online hate, adding that not enough people are vocal online today, given the nature of how online algorithms operate.
Like Haddad, Schrader has faced her own dangers as an outspoken social activist in an online world, especially as her face and name are both highly visible. “It’s an ugly environment and a hotspot if you’re an outspoken woman,” she said.
Schrader explained that the threats she receives come from three main sources. One is China, given her criticism of the country’s alleged human rights abuses. She also receives threats from the Iranian regime, even though she has an incredible 60,000 Iranian followers on social media alone, who she noted are mainly pro-Israel and condemn Palestinian terror. Finally, she said, she can face threats on a daily basis from the social media sphere whenever there is an uptick in tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.
Haddad and Schrader stand at the coal face of activism every day, which comes at significant personal costs. Yet Haddad explained that he is determined not to let the extremists win and believes his efforts are essential to transforming things for the better: “Their only way is to scare me and intimidate me. If I let them win, I can assure you, this is going to stay like this for years to come until someone tries again.”