NEWS DESK | Israel fights many of its battles on the battlefield, the UN floor and elsewhere abroad. But it also has upped its efforts in the digital world to improve public opinion of itself. Our Mike Wagenheim has the story.
For Israel to break through to the Arab street, you’ve got to go digital. That’s what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Digital Diplomacy Department is built for.
‘I’ve got a big department that oversees all of the digital assets of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Over 800 active accounts. And I think very much at the forefront of diplomacy today – digital diplomacy is,’ Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Digital Diplomacy Director Yiftah Curiel says.
Israeli ministers have been heading to Gulf state destinations with incredible regularity as of late. But how can the digital diplomacy department measure its success?
‘This is info about our growth in the last year. So we see in Instagram and YouTube, we have almost 300% growth…We see it in the comments, but we also see it in the traditional media. We see that a lot of newspapers in Egypt, in Iran, take information from our social media inside their newspapers, their TV channels,’ Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Arabic Branch Director Yonatan Gonen explains.
It’s sometimes tough to keep the world’s focus on the seemingly never-ending conflict in this region. Preceding a recent U.S.-led vote at the United Nations to condemn Hamas, the digital diplomacy department developed a campaign to demonstrate Hamas’ terrorist effect, something that Israelis live and breathe, but is far from obvious to those on the other side of the world.
The department is also focused on higher-brow material, like its recently introduced podcast, wisely titled, Persona Grata.
‘It’s a bi-monthly podcast in which users get to hear from Israeli diplomats…and it’s an opportunity for users to hear an intimate conversation in which diplomats discuss all the wonderful things they’re doing on behalf of the state of Israel…There’s definitely a shift in the amount of people listening to podcasts. It’s one of the most popular mediums today,’ explains Persona Grata podcast host Tamar Schwarzbard.
It’s all part of a selection of weapons for the ministry to choose from as it wages diplomatic battle on the global stage. So, put away your notions of diplomacy. This is where it’s at in the digital age.
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