A clean-cut, soft-spoken man with near-perfect English and an almost undetectable accent, Ezri Tubi is not what you would expect from a “settler” from Yitzhar, a known right-wing settlement in Samaria. Along with his wife Orah and five children, he calls Yitzhar “home.”
Originally from the big city of Netanya, Ezri grew up without Judea and Samaria on his radar whatsoever. He considered himself an “urban guy,” and recalls his early life revolving around major Israeli metropolises, and spending time on the train between Netanya and Tel Aviv, having fun. After his mandatory three-year army service, he traveled in the Far East before returning home to Israel and becoming religious.
At age 27, Ezri found himself in Judea and Samaria for the first time in his life. His friend told him about Itamar, a settlement in Samaria where he said he would have an amazing Shabbat. Ezri did not ask further questions, he just called up and asked if he could come stay for a weekend. They found him an empty house on a hill with only four other families – one family had gone away for the weekend and left Ezri the keys to their house. In the beginning, he was afraid – the emptiness, the quiet, and the rumors of the Arabs in the area. In the communities of Samaria, they often do guard shifts overnight, and Ezri volunteered. At some point in the middle of the night, his fear disappeared, and he had what he describes as an “epiphany.” He realized that this is a place where Jews did not walk for 2,000 years. Abraham came into the Land of Israel for the first time here. He suddenly felt connected to thousands of years of generations of Jews who dreamed to walk on this land, the same land where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dwelled. Here he was, on the land that waited for the Jews for thousands of years. From that moment, he fell in love with the region – the scenery, the people, the connection to the Bible, the values of the communities, and the ability to disconnect from the rest of the world. From then on, he has only lived in Judea and Samaria.
Ezri began his journey in Judea and Samaria as what he describes as a “hilltop youth.” He wanted to completely disconnect from the society and culture in which he was raised. To put it in his terms, he was looking to “reboot, to reformat.” He lived in the mountains of Samaria with his wife Orah. They raised their own sheep and chickens, and grew their own produce. They explored different communities until they found their home in Yitzhar. Ezri and Orah particularly connected to Yitzhar because they found the people to be straightforward, passionate, ideological, good-hearted people, and they felt that Yitzhar would be a great place to raise a family.
As he became more and more involved in the community, Ezri decided to apply to be the spokesman of Yitzhar. Upon receiving his post, he realized how the world is talking about Israel and the settlements and through what means. We all know the popular expression, “if you can’t beat them, join them,” – well, Ezri has his own take on that expression, “if you want to beat them, join them!” He decided to learn the “rules of the game” and four years ago, he checked out social media for the first time and opened his first accounts.
Four years ago, Ezri only knew how to start and stop a camera. Today, he makes viral Israel advocacy videos with millions of views. Three years ago, he began making videos and exposing himself to the culture that he had run away from when he moved to Samaria. He felt that he needed to learn how and what the other side was saying in order to show the world the truth about what is going on in Israel. Ezri believes that everyone is entitled to their opinion but, as he put it, “I am against lies. If you want a discussion, let’s do it fairly, let’s play a fair game.” Instead of sitting back and being frustrated by the lies being spread all over the world, he decided to do something about it. He learned how to express himself in a way that would reach people who would want to listen.
As his videos began getting better and better, and his online community began to grow, he decided to found an NGO called Boomerang Fighting for Israel. He feels he is continuing to learn and grow every day – even in areas which he seems to be an expert at, such as filming. As a self-made videographer and social media professional, he needed to now become the CEO of an NGO and head fundraiser. He is completely self-taught, motivated to spread the truth. He works hard at this project every single day because, according to Ezri, “if you don’t push something forward, it just dies.”
When he thinks about the growth of his organization, his dream is to be able to produce videos daily, talking about current issues as they are unfolding. He hopes to one day be able to respond quickly as a Jewish, Zionist, pro-Israel voice. He also wants to expand his organization to include an Arabic department in order to talk to his Arab neighbors, spread his message about what life in the region is really like, and hear firsthand what their lives are like. The Boomerang for Israel has an Arab woman on staff, Sara Zoabi. With death threats coming at her from online commentators, Sara Zoabi is spreading a message of truth about what is going on in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. She is bravely speaking out against the lies that her people are spreading.
Ezri looks at Israel and he sees that the war of today is a War of the Mind, and Israel is losing on the PR front . Israel is so technologically progressive, and yet somehow, he feels, we are losing to our enemies. According to Ezri, once the lies they create have spread, if you do not punch back immediately with the truth, then your message becomes irrelevant. “The depth that your tank can go into your enemy’s ground is as far as the international credibility that you have.” The Palestinians are fighting a great PR war, and Israel needs to catch up. It seems that it does not matter how strong your army is if you are not perceived by the world as “good.”
In 1967, Israel fought a war in which in only six days they beat three full armies who were armed with tanks, jets, and foot soldiers. There was no question in anyone’s minds – Israel won the Six Day War. Today, with one of the best armies in the world, Israel is fighting 30,000 fighters with light machine guns. Physically, Israel should be able to easily beat them. The problem is, Israel is not putting enough resources into the War of the Minds.
Currently, one of the biggest supporters of Israel is the global Christian community. They speak out for Israel against our enemies, and support us. Ezri views this phenomenon as “historical and divine, something that is special and unique in our times.” He values Israel’s friendship with the global Christian community, and he feels these people are honest and have real values.
Ezri will continue to grow Boomerang Fighting for Israel and will continue to spread the truth about what is going on in Israel. He hopes that the Israeli government will join the War of the Minds in order to fight our enemies on the PR front and tell the world the truth about what is really going on in our region.