Why Danny Ayalon picked this Manchester teen to defend Israel

By Jessica Elgot, August 19, 2010
Hasbarah success: Rosie Ben-David

Hasbarah success: Rosie Ben-David

A former Manchester schoolgirl has been leading Facebook's biggest pro-Israel campaign, despite being the target of pro-Palestinian hackers.

The group caught the attention of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has given the campaigners the chance to conduct video interviews with government spokesman Mark Regev and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

Rosie Ben-David, 16, was a Yavneh Girls' School pupil and lived in Broughton Park before making aliyah with her parents, three brothers and sister six months ago. She now attends a school just outside Tel Aviv and joined the pro-Israel Facebook group "Gaza Flotilla - the world should know the truth" when it had just 2,000 members. She said: "I have always been pro-Israel and have been on a lot of protests. I am also quite argumentative when I know something is right.

"There were a lot of people infiltrating the group who were writing things about Israel which were just lies and I had to speak up."

As one of the group's most vocal members, Ms Ben-David became its administrator and membership has grown to more than 255,000.

It would be more but, Ms Ben-David explained: "We were hacked a couple of weeks ago. They deleted all the pictures, all the videos and around 3,000 people were blocked from the group."

The group's discussions take place mostly in English but members come from all over the world. It is now the largest pro-Israel group on Facebook and has been given the backing of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Administrators of the group, including Ms Ben-David, now have the chance to conduct monthly Q&A sessions with MFA officials using questions posted to the group, and Ms Ben-David interviewed government spokesman Mr Regev last week.

This week, the Q&A will be with Mr Ayalon, and more are planned in the coming months.

After just six months in Israel, Ms Ben-David said her Ivrit was getting much more fluent than it had been at school in Manchester, but added: "Sometimes I feel like I'm the worst in my family, but I'm getting better."

Last updated: 2:00pm, August 19 2010