A picture isn’t just worth a thousand words; it’s worth a thousand likes. With this in mind, a Once in a Lifetime program organized by Stand With Us — an organization that promotes a positive image for Israel online and off — has brought to Israel 10 of the world’s top Instagram users to take inspiring, interesting, and fun photos of daily life in Israel.
Instagram is a social media photo-sharing app for iPhone and Android, where users can upload photos and apply filters to enhance their image. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has about 80 million users on its own, but many of the photos are shared on Facebook, where they have a potential audience of nearly a billion people.
The idea of bringing the Instagram users to Israel came from members of the Stand With Us Fellowship group at Tel Aviv University, who raised money from friends, organizations, and over the Internet to pay for the project.
The Instagramers arrived in Israel this week, and so far, in the space of several days they have snapped thousands of photos, which they uploaded to their Instagram accounts. Between them, the 10 Instagramers have about 2 million followers, providing what Stand With Us said was an unprecedented opportunity to enable people around the world to experience a side of Israel they are unlikely to have ever seen.
“When people around the world hear the word ‘Israel’ they often think about wars, bombs, terrorism, etc.,” said Uri, one of the project’s organizers. “We think what they should think of is things like culture, nightlife and the fact that in such a small country are such diverse landscapes. We believe that by bringing top Instagram users, each one of them with hundreds of thousands of followers, this wonderful and real Israeli image could be spread online and around the world.
On Wednesday, the “Instagram mission” met with President Shimon Peres, who was enthusiastic about the project.
“Israel is a very photogenic country, full of history, established by the Jewish people after 2,000 years of exile,” Peres told the Instagramers, all of whom were in Israel for the first time and most of whom were not Jewish. “Your photos reflect the positive side of Israel and its citizens, who seek to live in peace with their neighbors.”
Peres added that he himself was a big fan of Internet-based hasbara, with his own Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Instagram page.