The past few weeks have been extremely difficult. First it started with 3 innocent teenagers being kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and then brutally murdered. The situation has since escalated into a full on war.
Traveling around Israel for work has its perks, yes. I still get to see the beauty of the land every time I drive through Beit Shemesh to go to Tel Aviv. It’s stunning. I get awesome food, and I meet really interesting people.
But lately, it has been rather distracting too. I now continue my meetings while running into bomb shelters, evacuating buses on the side of the highway because of impending rocket fire, attending the funerals of lone soldiers along with 30,000 of my brothers and sisters, and visit their parents in their house of mourning. And I cry. A lot more than I should. This appears to be what life has become.
I have said countless times already when people ask me, there is nowhere in the world I would rather be right now. This is my home. I am proud to have the privilege to call it my home. I am proud of the morality of the army protecting me. I am proud to be here.
And here is the crazy thing, in some weird and sick way, the few rocket attacks that I have personally experienced have made me feel more connected to Israel than I ever though possible. So while it may be crazy, I find a sick sense of comfort in the few we have experienced in the central parts of Israel, because it connects me to the rest of the country. It’s still completely screwed up, I know.
But, You Feel Me, Right?
Maybe you don’t.
And I couldn’t shake the feeling that lots of people don’t get it. It’s not their fault, I tell myself over and over, that they don’t understand what this rocket fire means. Hell, I didn’t even really get it until I experienced my first air raid siren and had to run for shelter. It is hard to comprehend this, but since 2001, there has not been a month without rockets into Israel. That’s effing insane! True, this mainly affects the south, but Israel is a family. If you hurt your small toe, the rest of your body feels the pain. Sadly, I don’t think we were feeling this pain until rockets started falling more central. But Israelis do now.
I feared that others around the world didn’t.
wanted needed to find a way to help and open up the worlds eyes. I needed to find a way to show what this daily and constant barrage feels like.
A Idea Exploded Into My Head!
Sorry about that header… the dark humor is helping us all cope
Anyway, you know those “days since last incident signs”?? Well, how about a simple counter which counted up from the last rocket launch? Whenever a rocket was fired into Israel, it would go back to zero and start over. So I bought the domain IsraelHasBeenRocketFreeFor.com
The Stated Goal
The stated goal was to just get views. It was a one off website to raise awareness. That. Was. It. No money. Nothing. Just attention.
I reached out to my friend Uriel at MadeInJLM and asked him to connect me to a developer who might want to run with an idea I had. He put me touch with Yehonatan Tsirolnik, a recent graduate from High School who is brilliant and was up to the task. Incidentally, we also met in person the next night, but I digress.
Quick Execution and Scrappy Launch
We got the entire thing up and running in 48 hours and launched it around 10:30AM Friday, July 18th, 2014. Yehonatan and I both posted it on Facebook and twitter and I sent it out a few private messages to friends to give them a heads up. Then I went to meet my aunt for sushi.
This “thing” was LITERALLY racking up thousands of views!
Real time analytics were fascinating to watch. At any given time, there were between 200 and 500 people on the site, watching the timer count and reset.
Curious What Kind of Impact It Made?
At 2 days in:
- We had a little over 34,000 unique visitors.
- These mainly came from Facebook (4.9K shares) and some from twitter (237 RT’s)
- The next day, that number more than doubled with over 78,000 unique visitors.
- We got written up on The Times of Israel and then other publications followed.
By today July 25th 2014 at 4PM Israel time (when I am writing this):
- we have over 196,000 unique visitors
- 43,000 Facebook shares
- 1575 RT’s (which feels small considering the flow I see on tweetdeck, but who am I to argue)
- 136 +1′s. (We originally did not add Google+ shares because I had heard of significant anti semitic trolling there, so I wanted to steer clear. But later changed our mind)
On a lighter note, one of my favorite tweets about it came from this guy:
— Justin O'Neill (@FeralCelt) July 24, 2014
It made me laugh… but it’s also the reality.
I had friends messaging me on Facebook that we had close to a 10 hour stretch. Which ended shortly after that.
I think so. But I think we can still do more.
And I could go on, about some of the things I learned while doing this about marketing and creating a viral piece of content, but I want to save that for another time. The focus of this is the situation and awareness. Honestly, its been a rough past few weeks and I don’t really have the energy to write about this more. The only thing I hope happens with making this site is that it changes the perception of people around the world on Israel, even just a little bit.
Why I Am Telling You This
Aside from the fact that those stats are friggin awesome and it’s fun to share successes, I am mainly telling you this because I believe this perspective needs to be shared. Think to yourself, could you or anyone else live like this? Should Anyone live like this?
Please continue to share by buffering it, FB sharing it Tweeting it ———-> Tweet this
Thank you to everyone for your support, feedback, and interest. To family and friends who have reached out expressing concern, you know who you are and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it means.
As a quick disclaimer, while I appreciate comments, I will NOT tolerate any political debates or anti semitic remarks on my personal blog. So fair notice, if they are left, I will be deleting them.