The venue was different than last year's conference -- and took place at Beit Avichay in downtown Jerusalem.
I attended for 2 primary reasons.
1. I was subtly coerced into being on a panel about "Defending Israel." Honestly? I would rather not be on a panel or overtly draw attention to myself. Yet I was persuaded that it was more important to present ideas for defending Israel, than to worry about my semi anonymity. Its difficult for me to even judge how well the panel went over. I'm glad I got a few laughs out of the crowd, but the atmosphere seemed a bit too formal. Did anyone think my presentation had value? You'll have to let me know.
2. Social Networking. The more important reason to attend is to meet and see all those people from around the JBlogosphere that I rarely see. I'd much rather have an evening with almost no workshops and panels, and just have the opportunity to chat and hang out.
Its always a pleasure seeing David Bogner, so while I didn't feel the need to "be a better blogger" as was the name of his workshop, I attended anyway.
David Horowitz from the Jerusalem Post spoke well. He was entertaining -- and while constantly patting the JPost on the back, I won't complain. Their review of my panel and blog made me blush.
Introducing one particularly hotly anticipated workshop, "Defending Israel through social media tools," Yishai Fleisher of the Kumah blog said that "if the printing press made us all readers and Xerox made us all publishers, then the Internet made us all journalists."Ron Dermer spoke as well - WikiPedia claims that Dermer "is regarded as the most influential advisor to current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."
Fleisher lauded the Internet's power and potential. "We now have the ability to reach people around the world in an instant," he said, adding that "it's important that bloggers remain opinionated - objectivity is not the holy grail; subjectivity is what it's all about."
The workshop Fleisher hosted featured Ashley Perry, an adviser to Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, along with prominent bloggers Carl of the Israel Matzav blog and the anonymous "Jameel" of the Muqata blog, two of the most referenced and respected pages among the online Jewish community. (JPost)
Dermer inadvertently mentioned the Muqata as well - by crediting "the blogger" who broke the story about the photoshopped pictures in the Second Lebanon War by Reuters photographer Adnan Hajj. The Muqata blog was the first blog to mention the second doctored picture from Reuters (the first one we discussed here...)
Therefore, the logical question I asked was if the Israeli government wants our help to "Defend Israel" through the JBlogosphere (and we gladly help), why can't we get GPO Press Credentials? I was surprised that so many people applauded the question. Dermer promised he would take care of it. To help him with his promise -- if you are a serious blogger, drop me an email and I'll put together a request list to him.
Benji Lovitt was pretty funny -- I liked his line that, "You have to be careful what you write on facebook and twitter. For example, last week, I put up a status and everyone now thinks I'm gay. I wrote, "I'm very excited the HOT guy will be here soon."
It was fun seeing all these people I rarely get a chance to see. Professor Richard Landes, WestBankMama, Gidon, MominIsrael, Ruti, Baila, A Soldier's Mother, RivkA, Lurker, DoubleTapper, Bad4Shidduchim, CK from Jewlicious, Rafi G, Safraknit (I like the new name :) Elms in the Yard, My Shrapnel, The Big Felafel, Yisrael Medad, Shilo Muse, the IDF Spokespeople The Sandman, and many more. [will add links and more names soon].
Food was not as good as last year. Wish I had more time to chat with people. Overall, had a great time. The downside for me was getting beeper messages in the back during one of the presentations, of all the news that Assaf Ramon's F16 had crashed. I live blogged it -- while waiting for the official permission to publicize the details.
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Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד