'INCREDIBLE MAN': Becky Griffin with Shimon Peres


ALL the best-laid plans are made to go awry. This was exactly how my interview with Israel-born Rebecca Griffin went.

With a career in the media spanning more than 20 years, I had intended on speaking with her about the highlights of her career and how she became the face of McDonald's in Israel.

What we actually spoke about was far more interesting and left field than I could have imagined.

To understand how this media personality-cum-activist has reached her well-respected standpoint within the world of social media politics, you have to start from the beginning.

Becky, as she is known, was born on December 27, 1977, in Giv'atayim to Ariela, an accountant for the Steimatzky bookstore, and Bob Griffin, an Irish-American basketball player for Maccabi Tel Aviv who later became a literature professor.

She made her first advert at the age of 12 and, by the time she was 20, she had starred in several commercials and campaigns - and then landed her first job in television as a sports reporter on the Israel Sport Channel.

Becky explained: "I took the regular path in life and attended the top high school in the city, Shimon Ben Zvi.

"I was 15 and had to choose what to do for the next two years, so I chose the easiest subjects I could think of, something I would not have to spend a lot of time studying so I majored in chemistry and minored in computer science.

"I knew in high school what I was going to do when I was older, so school was just a back-up plan."

Becky, who was unable to serve in the IDF for medical reasons, studied a BA in film and television from Tel Aviv University, but did not finish the course.

She spent the next five years focusing on TV presenting for music and sports channels before returning to university in Israel.

Becky recalled: "I was a broadcast journalist when I was 20. When my dad became a professional basketball player, I used to go to all the games.

"One of the guys who was reporting on one of his games came up to me and asked if I was interested in reporting, so I said 'of course' as I had a passion for the sport.

"It was a terrifying experience as I was dropped straight in at the deep end, live on air.

"The director said, 'I want the people at home to get that you enjoy what you're doing, and that you understand what you're doing', and thankfully they did."

Becky moved to London at 25 and became the host of MTV's European music channel from 2003.

"They wanted an Israeli because 50 per cent of the advertising revenue came from Israel," she explained.

"They had two on-air British people, but the channel did not go out in the UK so they wanted an Israeli face to keep the sponsorship stream going.

"They saw about 300 people, but, thankfully, chose me."

While living in the UK, Becky's eyes had been opened to the bias of the British media against Israel - especially during the Gaza conflict in 2004, where her brother was in combat.

She explained: "I was exposed to it on a daily basis. A lot of my friends were coming to me with anti-Israel bias because of what they saw on British TV news and I realised it was a terrible situation because the media really has the power to affect what people think."

She said that playing the dance track Weapon of Mass Destruction by Faithless "really stood out" because of the lyric 'Misinformation is a weapon of mass destruction'.

"It is no wonder that antisemitism is on the rise in the UK," she said. "It is hard not to connect the dots."

When Becky returned to Israel to finish her studies, social media website Myspace was beginning to gain steam and she had decided to open an account with the sole aim of telling the truth.

She said: "I opened up an account to share the perspective as a non-political Israeli, as a civilian who has family in the army.

"It received a lot of traction as people began reading it, thanking me for sharing things that do not receive attention in the media. This is how I have been using my social media accounts ever since."

Becky has gained notoriety for her influence on social media through her Twitter account - @dorothyofisrael - and her Facebook pages.

She explained: "I find that on Twitter, I'm actually able to make a little bit of a change, because Twitter is where the media lives.

"It is where the journalists are and it has become the centre of everything that is news.

"Whether it was during last year's war or the current conflict, I can tweet editors, reporters or anyone involved within the news who reads or posts something factually incorrect and put pressure on them to change it.

"More often than not, I have managed to successfully get them to change it.

"Jake Tapper from CNN has been following me since the 2014 Gaza conflict and he is the only American media news person who brought up the Palestinian incitement by (Mahmoud) Abbas when he was interviewing a Palestinian official who was sitting there blaming the Israelis and the 'occupation'.

"I am a real person so I find that people appreciate my honesty. I am not a mouthpiece for Israel or a Zionist troll and I am not really a fan of (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu, so I can point out the mistakes of both sides in this conflict."The charismatic 37-year-old was unable to articulate her feelings regarding the current situation with Israel and the Palestinians.

She said: "It is a horrible situation, there are no words to describe the current situation - terrible, awful, tragic, sad - nothing comes close.

"The worst part is that there is no real end in sight and that we, as Israelis, have become accustomed to it. There have been so many attacks on a daily basis that we are used to it now.

"If it had been in any other country, it would be everywhere, all over the news.

"If you were in America or Britain and you came charging at the police with a knife, you would be shot, so why is it such a surprise when it happens in Israel?

"Unfortunately, I have no idea where this current wave of violence is going to end up because it is no longer about the perceived occupation."

Becky's outspoken attitude on Twitter has seen her gain such notable followers as former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

She said: "I think there are certain things the Israeli government could have done differently, that would have stopped this being such a phenomenon around the world.

"For example, providing proper education to the young people who are stuck between the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and the Israeli government, the ones in east Jerusalem who have blue cards and civilian rights.

"The situation has now become so major and so many things are taking place that events such as an Israeli flying over to Syria on a hand-glider to join ISIS last month, which would be major news in any other country, becomes forgotten about.

"The Nazis may not have been so powerful if the Germans had not been so poor at the time and it is so easy to create collective narcissism when people are desperate and poor and you have that happening on both sides.

"(Former Israeli Prime Minister) Yitzhak Rabin was murdered in the name of Jewish law, so both sides have their extremists."

Becky's future plans are hopeful ones in the fight to increase activism online as she is planning to set up her own training courses to help people advocate for Israel online.

She also writes for the sports section of the biggest finance magazine in Israel, Calcalist.

When I asked Becky what the biggest highlight of her extensive career was, she shared that at the age of 22, she interviewed former Israeli president Shimon Peres.

She recalled: "It was amazing. The first thing I wanted to do after interviewing him was to go home and watch the tape.

"I was worried I looked like such an idiot as I was grinning so much from the fact that such an incredible man had spoken to me and said my name.

"I had gone completely mad inside my head. Unfortunately, it was so long ago that there is no footage of the interview, but the next time I saw him, I made sure I got a photo with him."

© 2015 Jewish Telegraph