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NYTimes advertisement targets media coverage of Israel

In Saturday's New York Times, a group of people used a full page advertisement on page A5 to send a message to the media. (Elad Nehorai)

In Saturday's New York Times, a group of people used a full page advertisement on page A5 to send a message to the media.

"The Media hasn't told Israel's story so now we have to," the ad states.

Funded by supporters who describe themselves as Jewish, non-Jewish, Israeli and non-Israeli, the ad shares their frustration that "The New York Times took a month to report on the attacks" that have been occurring in Israel in September and October.

The message was the result of a GoFundMe campaign launched by blogger Elad Nehorai.

Nehorai, who writes the blog Pop Chassid, told Sinclair that a variety of reasons motivated him to launch the campaign to take out the ad calling attention to "the recent epidemic of terror in Israel."

The ad charges that while attacks have been happening daily since the beginning of October, The New York Times and other media outlets have been burying such stories or not reporting them at all.

Nehorai, who as a blogger understandably spends a large amount of time online, said that among people who care about Israel the "frustration about the media" is "constant."

"They question why isn't the world saying anything?" Nehorai described, "the feeling I get from them is hopelessness, that is something I really wanted to fight."

"I feel like that's a very crippling, disabling feeling, feeling like the world doesn't care and you can't do anything about it."

To empower these voices, Nehorai said he wanted to make a statement, to make a big splash. "Having a full page ad in The New York Times is a pretty big statement."

The ad space would cost $118,000 and Nehorai explained that the idea at first, "seemed insane, really crazy."

Nehorai admitted that even some of his usual supporters were skeptical of the plan. Some he said, thought the idea was ridiculous, others questioned why they should give their money to The New York Times.

Many questions were answered by Nehorai on the GoFundMe Page. He argued that when it came to giving The New York Times money, "the impact outweighs the cost." Answering what happens if the plan failed, he explained the money would be given to StandWithUs, a non-profit Israel education organization that would "use it towards "marketing the very message we are trying to send, but in other avenues."

Nehorai explained that his desire to maintain the grassroots nature of the effort made him hesitant to partner with an organization. He worried an outside organization would take control, not because he wanted control for himself, but as he explained, "I was really worried [because] one of the big messages of this campaign was that this was a grassroots campaign," and he feared that if the partnership wasn't executed effectively, it would damage that narrative.

Ultimately, Nehorai reached out to StandWithUs for help.

"They were so great about it," Nehorai said noting that StandWithUs "did such a good job of being transparent," and making it as clear as possible that the ad was a grassroots movement.

"They cared so much about what we were doing," Nehorai said.

Asked why StandWithUs got involved with Nehorai's campaign Roz Rothstein, the CEO of StandWithUs, said their organization agrees that there is not equivalent news coverage of the events going on in Israel.

"I think that reporting goes back and forth and it is getting a little bit better, but people really need to add their own thoughts and force journalists to be accountable," Rothstein explained.

Rothstein mentioned a recent CNN headline as an example of flawed coverage of the ongoing violence in Israel. "CNN when it first talked about the Palestinians burning Joseph's tomb," Rothstein explained, the headline was that the tomb had caught fire.

Simon Plosker, the Managing Editor of HonestReporting.com, a website that strives to defend Israel from media bias called it "appalling," that "CNN and other media are unwilling or unable to assign responsibility to Palestinians for any acts of violence against Israelis or, in this case, a Jewish holy site."

To help Nehorai with his campaign, StandWithUs offered to file the ad on his behalf.

Because of their status as a non-profit it would only cost StandWithUS $30,000 to purchase the advertising space. What had started off as a $118,000 goal became $33,000: $30,000 for the ad space and $3,000 to cover the fees charged by GoFundMe.

"All of a sudden this became realistic, we were gaining a lot of steam," Nehorai described.

Nehorai said that people who originally told him to stop wasting his time and energy on the campaign were telling him: "this is amazing."

"Step by step, I saw them going from cynical and feeling helpless," Nehorai said to feeling "inspired."

"I felt like the point is that we're getting out there and making a statement, what was amazing was to see the transformation to the reaction," Nehorai described.

According to the GoFundMe page, over 800 people contributed over the course of 11 days, over $34,000.

"This was a movement, this wasn't just one funder to me that's the story," Nehorai said. "It is about Israel it's about the fact that a group of people cared about this so much," that they were willing to pay $33,000 collectively to publish the ad. Nehorai described that as "incredibly special."

StandWithUs designed the ad, Nehorai purchased the advertising space and shared the final product on the GoFundMe Page, telling people the ad would run in Saturday's edition of The New York Times.

As Nehorai described, because the ad ran Saturday, he had to wait until about 8 p.m. before he started "roaming the streets trying to find The New York Times."

Nehorai shared that his wife wanted him to get two copies of The New York Times, but the store where he finally found the paper only had one copy left with "a big tear," across the front.

"I wanted my wife to see it with me since she's been really supportive," Nehorai explained, so he brought the one copy home for them to open together.

"I didn't know what page it would be on, if you open up the International section of The New York Times," on pages A4 and A5, Nehorai described "we were on the same page."

Nehorai said he was "so proud to see this thing that went from being a ridiculous idea to something being blared in The New York Times."

"You never know the effect, but you know you did something," Nehorai explained. "I don't think on such a controversial topic it's possible to instantly change someone's opinion," Nehorai said, but "we've shown there's a group that cares so much," that they are willing to put together this ad.

The response, Nehorai said has been crazy. "It went viral on my Facebook, I took a picture [of the ad] once I bought [the paper] and that went viral, it was an incredible experience to see people react so positively."

Rothstein said that people have been very grateful for the ad and described the response as "only positive." Some people are even talking about doing another ad. One woman commenting on the GoFundMe page suggested raising enough to run the ad every week.

In terms of what comes next, Nehorai recognizes that people are currently inspired, and he's now trying to figure out what he can do because he knows that inspiration is not permanent.

"People have come to me and said we should do more campaigns," he said noting that the goal "was to get more mainstream media attention."

"I'm kind of waiting to see and I hope that we get more attention, if we don't maybe we should do more ads," Nehorai said comparing it to the way Israel is covered in the news, "you have to have so many thing happen in Israel before it gets reported," perhaps it will take multiple ads.

Nehorai admitted "it is hard to get media attention when you're criticizing the media."

Answering the question of whether the ad will actually changes any minds on the GoFundMe Page, Nehorai wrote that "of course no ad, no one event, no article will ever cause a transformation overnight. "

Though Nehorai explained the goals of the ad as follows: "I want people to know they can change the world, I want people to know there's more than one answer to the issues that we face. I wanted to make a statement to the media in a way they couldn't ignore."

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