Ashkelon’s own 2010-2011 Diller Teen Fellows alumnus, Cpl. Dima Glinets, is fighting for Israel every day as a part of his army service. But he is not doing it with a gun. He does it through social media.
Glinets, 19, is a part of the spokesperson unit in the Israel Defense Forces, and his particular branch is in charge of operating and managing IDF social channels. Due to his superior English skills, Glinets is in charge of all English social media for the IDF, which includes Twitter, Facebook, the IDF blog, Instagram and Tumblr.
Glinets’s trip to Baltimore as a Diller Teen Fellow in 2011 proved to be extra important for him.
“I was influenced by American social media and culture, and it motivated me,” Glinets said. “A lot of American Jews wanted a source in order to share Israeli Defense Forces news but didn’t have the content to do so. Now we are providing them with that information. Now we are providing them with the truth.”
Two months after Glinets enlisted in the IDF, Operation Pillar of Defense took Southern Israel by storm.
“I think for the first time in history, an army declared the beginning of an operation through social media. This was never done before,” Glinets said.
Glinets’s Israeli story starts before he enlisted in the army, before he traveled to Baltimore for the first time. Glinets’ family made aliyah from Russia in 2000. They arrived in Israel with two suitcases and 28 shekels.
But it was not long before Glinets made his mark on Israel. Quickly, his community — and the entire country — recognized his talents. Last year, he was awarded the prestigious Ramon Honorary Citation, an award honoring eight students each year for accomplishments in academia, leadership and community service.
Dr. Robert Abbott, whose daughter, Rebecca, participated in the Diller program with Glinets, has fostered a unique bond with Glinets through his many trips to Israel. Dr. Abbott noted the many conversations he has had with Glinets over the years — through text, Facebook chat and in person both in Israel and in Baltimore.
“I was not surprised last year when Dima won the award at the Knesset honoring only eight high school students annually,” Dr. Abbott said. “It is a reflection of the unlimited potential Dima has. His future is bright indeed, and I expect we will see big things from him.”
Glinets’ commander, Lt. Sacha Dratwa, said that Glinets’ vast knowledge of American culture makes him even more of an asset to his unit.
“He watches American television, sports (NBA and NFL are a must for Glinets) and reads American blogs and websites, which help him create content for our growing American audience,” she said.
Yet, Dratwa explained that Glinets’ value to the unit lies in his genuine friendships with his fellow soldiers and his ability to set the creative bar higher and higher for himself, thus inspiring his fellow soldiers to do the same.
Glinets still speaks fondly of his Diller experience.
“When I first arrived in Baltimore, I understood that I had a very special connection to the place,” he said. “I found the people warm and welcoming. I quickly found that each and every person I met was both interested and interesting. That is a rare thing. I know that in any future opportunity I have to visit the states, I will most definitely be stopping in Baltimore, my home away from home.”
Glinets said he hopes to make a difference in the way the world thinks about the IDF.
“The world is one big global village, and it’s important for the IDF to be a part of that village so people can hear our side of the story,” he said.
Cpl. Dima Glinets is sharing the IDF’s message on its social networks.