The Arab Israeli influencer who asks: Why can’t we all get along?

YouTube sensation Nuseir Yassin, who has 65 million followers, explains why he is optimistic about the future of his homeland


Nuseir Yassin believes he might be one of the only people in the world to call himself a “Palestinian-Israeli”.

And he might also the only Palestinian — Israeli or otherwise — to choose to spend a rainy July afternoon in north-west London with members of the Jewish community, telling them about his life. Yassin, a bright-eyed 32-year-old who could easily pass for 25, came to the events space JW3 to pose the age-old question: “Why can’t we all get along?”

The social-media phenomenon, who in under a decade has amassed more than 65 million followers across Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, addressed a Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) event at the community centre this week, where he shared his inspirational story with a Jewish audience.

Yassin was born in the small Arab city of Arraba in northern Israel, where, he says, he grew up with an awareness of the conflict, if not an active desire to be a part of it.

It was only when he managed to secure a scholarship to Harvard in the United States that he began rubbing shoulders with Jews for the first time, despite growing up just miles away from Jewish towns.

Yassin’s time in the US culminated with him working as a software engineer in New York, a career path he chose specifically because “it didn’t matter what race I was, what my background was, the work did the talking”.

At this point, he began to develop a voice of his own. Having saved up $40,000 (£31,000) he set off to travel the world, making a one-minute video every day to post on social media in an attempt to go viral and “speak to people outside [his] community”.

For months, he slogged away under the moniker Nas Daily before finally finding success on day 270 with a video about how cheap it was to live well in Thailand.

From there, opportunities came pouring in. He started employing people to help expand his new empire, which was initially based in Singapore before moving, thanks to the Abraham Accords, to the UAE.

Yassin sees himself very much as an Israeli export. He may have Palestinian- Arab roots but he acknowledges that he comes from, and is inspired, by the tradition of Israeli start-ups.

Speaking to the JC he says that he has received nothing but support from Jews inside and outside of Israel.

“I got an amazing reception,” he says. “That was one of the biggest surprises, seeing how much support I got from the Jewish community, whether inside Israel [or] outside. I don’t know why there is support, but I’ll take it.”

While a stop at JW3 may not be on the typical tourist’s itinerary for a 12-hour layover in London, Yassin says he endeavours to engage with the Jewish community wherever he goes.

He always comes back to his central message of building bridges.

The motivational speaker addresses the crowd wearing his signature “percentage” T-shirt.

For years he has used his clothing to broadcast how much of his life he has lived, based on his estimated life expectancy.

Periodically, he adjusts the figure, the gradual ticking up serving as a visual reminder to himself and those he encounters that time is precious.

Today the figure displayed on his T-shirt is 40 per cent, though he confesses, he ought to be sporting his 41 per cent top — that item of clothing is presumably in the wash.

“We’ve been very lucky to reach millions of people, from every possible race,” he says of his digital audience.

However, he continues, there are often large gaps to bridge between different groups — and the widest gap by far is that which separates Arabs and Jews, he believes.

“There is a gap between Indians and Bangladeshis and a gap between the British and Americans, but [they are] not very large. The biggest gap is between Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis.

“Because the gap is so wide, I feel like it’s always important to try to bridge it, to make it a little bit smaller.”

As a Palestinian Arab, he faces more than his fair share of challenging questions from Jewish members of the public and the people who view his videos. But, Yassin, says, he gets a harder time from Arabs than from Israelis.

“I’ve had ten million Egyptians telling me I’m a Zionist. The Arab side attacks harder,” he says.

“The expectation [to be loyal] is higher. And it [seems] like ‘if you don’t support us in everything that we do, then you’re essentially a traitor’. But I’ve never been the kind of person who would succumb to this pressure,” Yassin explains.

Despite the difficulties he faces in trying to juggle his celebrity with commentating on the world’s most controversial conflict, Yassin is at heart an optimist: “I think I’ve learned to ignore the noise,” he says of his critics.

“No matter how sad it is, there [has been] real progress. Sometimes people can cannot see the forest for the trees.”

He believes more positive change is on the cards too: “I think before the year 2030 there will be some tangible [change]. I think the biggest progress would be [relations with] Saudi Arabia, peace with Israel and negotiating on behalf of the Palestinians.”

In the UAE, before the 2020 peace deal with Israel, Yassin was advised to hide his Israeli passport, he says: “I was told to never say I’m from Israel only to say I’m Palestinian — to be very, very careful.”

Within two weeks of the signing of the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement, though, people “went from being super-scared of Israel to being super-welcoming”.

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