ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 192

Shachar Levy, known as DawnLev on social media. (Courtesy)
Shachar Levy, known as DawnLev on social media. (Courtesy)
Interview'I'm just making people question very obvious propaganda'

The social media star who uses snark to fight Israel’s war of information

Irreverent entertainer Shachar Levy — aka DawnLev — uses her platform to create viral pro-Israel content that encourages viewers to think critically about the Israel-Hamas war

Shachar Levy, known as DawnLev on social media. (Courtesy)

The viral short video “Queers for Palestine” has garnered millions of views on Instagram and TikTok since it was uploaded on October 22 as a three-way chat between “You,” “Israel,” and “Hamas” — all played by the striking redheaded social media star known as DawnLev.

The You character — described as “any liberal who supports Hamas” — introduces herself to Hamas and says she wants to help the Palestinian people.

“Oh, our human shields?” asks Hamas. “We used the Palestinian people in Gaza to protect ourselves while we try to kill as many Jews as possible.”

Hamas then explains to You all of the awful things it does as a terrorist organization and how its values directly contradict everything the Left stands for.

It is snarky and fresh — and hugely impactful on platforms that are the main news sources for millions of teens and young adults.

The brains and brawn behind DawnLev, Shachar Levy, knew she was destined to be an entertainer while growing up in Australia. But until Hamas’s massacre of 1,200 people in Israel and taking of 253 hostages on October 7, Levy said, she would not have imagined herself on the frontlines of the digital fight, as she has been during the ensuing Israel-Hamas war.

Levy has since made a name for herself as an unofficial, and unpaid, pro-Israel advocacy ambassador, posting clever debunkings of common myths about Israel and the IDF, along with “Good News” segments to bring a smile in the middle of horrific war updates.

Her most successful videos are skits in which the characters, all played by Levy, discuss the complicated way Israel and Hamas are each portrayed in global media. The characters are often anthropomorphized concepts such as “the News,” “World,” and “Hamas.”

@dawnlev

This is exactly what goes through my mind every time any member of the LGBTQ+ community, feminist or 
“liberal” supports the horrible acts of Hamas. ????️‍???????????? For anyone about to comment “Free Palestine” down below, special thanks in advance for commenting! Your interactions help with engagement and so all you’re really doing is helping promote the video and share it with more people. Thank-you for supporting Israel! We love you too! If you don’t agree with what I say, you’re just disagreeing with facts. I get it. The truth F*CKING hurts, I understand why you’re in denial. But let’s be very clear: by supporting Hamas, you are MOST DEFINITELY *not* supporting the civilians in Gaza, you’re supporting ISIS, and honey – you’re next. #Hamasisisis #FreePalestinefromHAMAS #IstandwithIsrael

♬ original sound – ????????‍???? Shachar levy ????️

Her videos on TikTok and Instagram regularly reach several hundred thousand views.

“It really helps people mentally,” Levy says. “I’ve gotten the message ‘You’re the first thing that’s made me smile in X amount of time’ so many times that I’m almost desensitized to it.”

She is finding that the world is also desensitized to the horrors committed by Hamas: even though the terrorists filmed themselves committing atrocities on October 7 when they invaded Israel from the Gaza Strip, many people worldwide have since either denied or downplayed the atrocities.

It was into this difficult online climate that Levy — an old hand at social media — ventured, only days after the October 7 massacre.

“I have, like, two decades of experience at this point,” the 26-year-old tells The Times of Israel, laughing.

From English to Hebrew and back again

Levy’s career as a full-time content creator was established well before the Israel-Hamas war broke out. Her videos took off in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, as she reveals in a 2023 TikTok post introducing herself in Hebrew, she has been making video content since she was a child.

When the pandemic hit, she began making videos daily, mostly in English, with limited success.

“When I moved to Hebrew,” Levy recalls, “people started noticing.”

In particular, people loved her “Conversations with my Period” series — skits in which she explores her relationship with her monthly cycle using dry humor and sarcasm.

Levy was born in Israel and lived there until age 6, when, shortly after her younger sister was born at the height of the Second Intifada in 2003, her parents decided to move abroad. At the time, Australia had fairly open borders and a straightforward path to citizenship.

“We spoke Hebrew at home,” Levy recounts. “I lived a very Israeli lifestyle.”

Yet, she felt very Australian, and the transition back to life in Israel nine years later was a difficult one.

Still image from one of Shachar Levy’s videos. (Courtesy)

At 15, Levy started high school in a country where she spoke the language but had very little in common with her peers.

She tried moving back to Australia for a few months in 2017, but came back in 2018.

“I thought it would solve all my problems,” Levy says of the move. “It didn’t.”

Although she still feels like she is missing something by not having had a typical Israeli childhood, Levy has begun to feel much more connected to Israeli society since October 7.

“I feel like I’ve caught up on so much history. It’s insane,” she says.

The war has also brought about a distinct change in Levy’s videos. Within a few days of the October 7 massacre, she began a new series from her Tel Aviv apartment called “Good News,” in which she described good things happening in the world despite the horrors of the recent massacre and the ensuing war.

“Creating content really helped me… People thought [‘Good News’] was to impact other people. It was just to get me to feel sane,” she admits.

But the “Good News” series didn’t feel quite right to Levy.

“I really missed creating skits and writing scripts. That was my thing. Then, one night, I had an epiphany,” she says.

Entertain and inform

Levy says she was watching pro-Israel advocacy videos and noticed that many of them were very straightforward and a bit boring, and were not gaining any traction online.

“So I posted one of the first videos about ‘Queers for Palestine’ and that blew up. It had, like, 3 million views in two days. And I thought ‘Okay, I found something here,'” she recounts.

Still image from one of Shachar Levy’s videos. (Courtesy)

Since then, Levy’s work has changed people’s minds as well as their moods.

“I’ve gotten so many messages from people who were very pro-Palestinian who said, ‘Wait, you gave me a different point of view,’ and started researching as a result of my videos,” she says.

Levy emphasizes that she does not aim to be a news outlet or a primary source; she wants to encourage people to think critically and do their own research.

“I’m just making people question the media and the very obvious propaganda that’s going on around the world,” she says, adding that her videos have reached unusual allies.

“I’ve gotten a lot of messages from people in Syria and Lebanon that ask to be anonymous,” she says, “that stand with Israel but just can’t openly talk about it.”

Levy has developed a particular character, Bethany, who represents the Western pro-Palestinian leftist in her skits and has proven to be a useful tool.

“The character has been a really good way for me to express the other side, while not being myself. And also [I can] lay the facts [out] because she asks questions and other characters answer,” she explains.

@dawnlev

If I’m being honest, I was very iffy about posting this video. I don’t think it’s my best work, but I hope it provides the message I’m trying to push through. Dealing with people hating us purely out of hatred for Jews and Israelis is one thing, but observing the undeniable hypocrisy of westerners and their one sided care for “human rights” is somehow even worse. ????????‍♀️ . . . . #humanrights #bethany #ucla #interview #humanity #israel #Hamasisisis

♬ original sound – ????????‍???? Shachar levy ????️

Her wartime video series has opened a lot of doors for Levy, leading her to collaborations with Israeli media outlets Ynet and Kan. She is now preparing to conduct Zoom workshops with American Jews on how to create effective pro-Israel online content.

But it is an uphill battle.

“My parents don’t like the idea of it because they think I’m putting myself as a target. And they have a point.”

At the beginning of the war, Levy got death threats and messages she said she would not wish upon anyone.

“I did turn off my comments for a while,” she says. “And then I just let it go. I don’t look at my comments anymore.”

Strictly a volunteer endeavor

@dawnlev

Israel is one of the most expensive countries in the world, most people here are poor or at least living hand to mouth. Why? Because living between counties that constantly fire rockets at you and try to invade your tiny land is really freaking expensive. The iron dome costs a hell of a lot of money, and it’s the only reason more people died in Gaza during the war. If more Israelis died, would you still be standing with Palestine? I wonder… . . . . . #israel #content #contentcreator #IstandwithIsrael #hamamisisis

♬ original sound – ????????‍???? Shachar levy ????️

There is also the financial side of things. Levy is not paid for her Israel advocacy videos, although she is often accused by pro-Palestinians of being paid to spread pro-Israel messages. She says that is part of the reason why she refuses to take any money for any of it.

She also says that she frequently gets hate comments based solely on the fact that she lives a relatively normal life. Anti-Israel commenters try to undermine her experience living through a war, claiming that she must not be suffering because she got her nails done or because she’s going to a restaurant. Israelis even leave angry comments when she posts non-advocacy videos — which she does get paid for — saying she is supposed to be focused only on the war.

“This is my job,” she clarifies. “I have to create content in Hebrew because that’s how I make money.” Beyond the desire to make a living, Levy says she has much more to offer than just advocacy videos and has no desire to be put into a box.

To that end, she is currently transitioning back into her regular content, with some advocacy videos mixed in.

“I have big plans for Bethany,” Levy teases.

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