Gaza Shells Israel On Twitter

My uniform is ironed, folded and ready for the anticipated call from my unit. After barrages of rockets from Gaza to Israel, it was time to retaliate. Many Israelis, who were getting tired of the situation, kept posting memes and updated their statuses expressing their wish to block rocket attacks and get back to normal life. It was at a certain point that the government decided to strike back, and has been doing so in surgical, pin-pointed airstrikes designed to stop the rockets by exploding them in mid-air as well as pounding at Hamas, its leadership and its infrastructure.

On Facebook, you couldn’t help but notice the heartwarming gestures of people living in the central and northern parts of the country, offering their homes and sending warm wishes to the 1 million civilians within rocket range. But soon after, rockets started falling in central Israel, making it 5 million civilians under rocket range, exposed to physical danger as well as much frustration, confusion and anxiety.

Israelis love Facebook so much that they forget there is a whole world out there which isn’t comprised of family and friends and who doesn’t necessarily support, understand or even know the slightest thing about what is happening now between Gaza and Israel. I noticed many of my friends, calling their friends and fans to post photos and testimonies of the rockets flying over their heads so that “the whole world will see”.

gaza fires rockets on israel

“The Foreign Ministry calls upon the citizens of Southern-Israel to send videos, photos that show your lives under rocket threat”

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked civilians to email them videos and photos so that they may use them to create posters, memes and clips that will serve as advocacy materials in the public diplomacy efforts to keep the world informed and to maintain the first time ever general support of Israel and the opinion that Hamas launching daily, if not hourly rocket attacks from Gaza to Israel is the direct cause of this escalation.

But you see, the conversation is on Twitter, not just on Facebook. If Facebook is a social network, then Twitter is a source of information to all, at any given time, on any topic.

gaza shells israel on twitter

Gaza & Israel, or should we say just Gaza, on Twitter

Israelis, as opposed to Palestinians, don’t use Twitter. And when it comes to Instagram, they seem to keep the tags very local. This simple truth leaves the 4th battle field totally neglected.

A quick scroll down the twitter feed using the tags #Israel or #Gaza will show exactly who is shaping and controlling the conversation. No matter how many advocacy groups and governemt organizations will try to contribute, it is the people, in this case the Palestinians who control the Twittersphere simply because it isn’t used by Israelis.

As I wait to be called for duty, I would like to call upon the Foreign Ministry, the Israel Defense Forces and everyone interested mobilizing civilians to keep the world informed:

Israel is the startup nation and the hub of technological innovation – Don’t ask them for photos, don’t create hashtags that no one searches for. Develop a simple, visual, location-based app that would enable people to share real-time alarms/sirens, rocket shells and of course photos and tags that will help them share their experience with everyone in the world, and not just their own circles.

The concern of a location based app revealing to Hamas the exact location of where the rockets fell I s understandable. So is the fear of encouraging people to take pictures of rockets when they should be running for shelter. But the thing is that, Hamas will know whether you tell them or not, and people will be taking pictures of rockets anyway…

Once again, the best speakers and the people themselves, the moment you do it for them, you lose the ears and the hearts of your potential audience which is not yours, it’s in fact, theirs.

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Italian Embassy to the USA to Host E-Diplomacy Conference October 22

E-Diplomacy is changing the way governments interact with each other, with their citizens, and with the public. It is also changing the way foreign policy is actuated to respond to new challenges. Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero and a panel of experts will examine where ediplomacy is heading and the future of communications. A follow up to Turin’s Twiplomacy conference in June 2012, the round table is organized by the Embassy of Italy in Washington DC. The panel includes: Alec Ross, Senior Adviser for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; David Ignatius, Columnist at the Washington Post; Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, host of HuffPost Live; Deborah Seward, Director of Strategic Communications at the United Nations.

Click here for more info and to RSVP

6 Ways to Use Quora in the Service of Digital Diplomacy

A while back, I came across a tweet that promised to tell me what are the next up and coming social media sites I should be keeping an eye out for. Given my bombastic job title, I figured I have to read it, just to be in the know and just in case someone decides to challenge my knowledge. I clicked on the link and scrolled down until I reached Quora. What can I say, I fell in love.

Recognizing the potential, I immediately created an account for my consulate. I named it after my consul general, gave a short description of our mission and started following topics, people and questions.

About a week later, I was proud to receive and message from a Quora admin, telling me that we are the first and only diplomatic mission on the site and that he is looking forward to see how we choose to use it for our purposes.

Though the natural inclination is to answer questions related directly to my country’s political issues and foreign policy, I decided to answer question about topics I knew my country had something to offer to the world. My Consul General was surprised and happy to learn that he is an expert on water desalination, solar power, surfing, stem cell research, desertification prevention, innovative education methods, location-based apps, autism research and so much more.

The best part about it all is that the amount of followers the account has pales in comparison to the actual reach, since the questions and topics have so many followers from across the globe.

The most satisfaction I got was not from the “vote ups” but rather the messages reading “I would have never thought of that, I’ll look into it” and other comments of that nature.

The people I managed to reach via Quora would have never been exposed to this information if I had resorted to post it strictly on the mission’s website, Facebook page or Twitter.

Quora truly enables you to reach an audience based on niche interests, most of who are professionals in those fields and appreciate interesting and informative content that has professional value to them.

 Here are a few tips using Quora:

  1. Beware and be prepared. It is highly addicting.
  2. Follow topics and questions you want your country or government agency to be associated with or that are related to your branding strategy.
  3. Answer questions that can help you promote companies, startups, ideas, academic institutions, artists, technologies all located, invented, developed or heavily used in your country.
  4. Write answers, not articles, but include links to articles, especially if they were published in a source you have an interested in driving traffic to.
  5. If you are asked to answer a question regarding current events or a political issue, treat it as an official statement and abide by your guidelines and directives.
  6. If you are fortunate enough to employ interns, let them research and compose answers according to their personal fields of interest. That will motivate them and help them learn more about your country. For the most part, they are younger than you, and being out of this organic line of work, they will find topics that you would never think about. Don’t forget to go over it before they hit post. You know, just in case.