#ShanaTova Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif

Foreign Minister of Iran, Mr. Javad Zarif tweeted a Jewish new year greeting to his followers.

Activist Christine Pelosi (yeah, also the daughter of) tweeted back, thanking him but also pointing out the almost systematic holocaust denial by Iranian officials, namely former president Ahmadinejad.

In an unprecedented move, Zarif, also a former ambassador to the UN and a Denver University graduate, replied what seems not only as words of criticism against the former president but also, a crack in the holocaust denial doctrine, fashioned to delegitimize Israel’s existence.  iranian foreign minister javar zarif wishes shana tova on twitter

Just to clarify with a very quick side note to put this in the right context:

There are roughly 25,000 Jews in Iran today, relics of a large Jewish community that dates back over 2,500 years. Today, there are about 100,000 Iranian Jews in Israel, 5,000 in Europe and about 20,000 in the USA.

The former president is one of some who believe that the only justification for the State of Israel is the holocaust, therefore denying it ever happened would mean that Israel has no claim or right to exist as a sovereign state (that’s in a very tiny nutshell).

Also important to note is that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also tweeted a New Year greeting that.

Now back to this eye catching engagement:

This exchange of tweets gained Zrif over 2,000 new followers in just a few hours, and some media attention that expresses hope that this administration is proving to be more moderate as it promised.

Interestingly enough, President Hassan Rouhani had also tweeted a similar greeting, however this was quickly followed up by his media adviser who claimed the president does not even have an account.

iran president on twitter

Social engagement Vs. familiar methods of denial may be indicative of will Vs. confidence the new administration has or lacks, as it takes the reigns over a country with a glorious past, a depressing present and an unknown future.

Is this twitter conversation a green light for Iranian civilians to speak their minds or is twitter the next online platform to be blocked in Iran by the Revolutionary Guards’ cyber team?

With all the cynicism and pessimism that can be applied when it comes to the Ayatollah regime, it is a new year after all, and it is custom to forgive and ask for forgiveness for the wrongs of the previous year, and to look upon the new year with hope and positive vibes. So i’m gonna do just that, and wish everyone, a very sweet and happy new year. Shana Tova

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Assad’s Next Facebook Status

Everything that could be said has been said about this crazy part of the world I live in, and once again, all eyes are on the Middle East (this time on the right place) with the anticipated attack of “the west”, lead by the US, on Syrian targets.

Yet, the only sign of anything being wrong, as far as Assad goes is the fact that his Instagram account hasn’t been updated in nearly 2 weeks, and even then, no sign of the 2 year civil war, chemical weapons used on civilians or the threats of international intervention. Just your same ole award ceremonies, Bashar busy at his desk and the beautiful Asma, hugging kids and cooking for the poor. Bashar Assad on Instagram

The last presidential tweet left the fingertips of team Assad 3 days ago, babbling about some visit of a Yemen delegation.

While the world decides not to wait for him to explain why he felt it right to gas people, Assad gives an interview to Russian news site Izvestia complaining about terrorism and explaining the Geneva Convention articles and at the same time, using his and his minority of supporters’ social networks, reassuring all of us crazy people around the world, that the streets of Damascus have never been livelier. Seriously Bashar, WTF?

Yesterday morning, I was out for brunch with a group of friends when I received a text message from my army unit asking me to be prepared for reserve duty should there be a need, and although I replied diligently, all I could think of is how damn wonderful life could be if it where taking place in Assad’s Facebook page.

If this blog post finds its way to anyone on the Syrian side suffering from the Assad Family’s game of thrones, be sure that there are many in the world and yes, even your estranged neighbors who feel for your pain and wish you only the best.

Diplo’s Online Learning Day: April 17 Save the Date!

Diplo emerged from a project to introduce information and communication technology (ICT) tools to the practice of diplomacy, initiated in 1992 at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies in Malta.
In November 2002, Diplo was established as an Image

independent non-profit foundation by the

governments of Malta and Switzerland.

The Online Learning Day

(17 April 2013, 10.00 –12.00 CET – online; and 18.00–20.00 CET – Geneva) is part of Diplo’s E-diplomacy Platform and builds on the first Geneva E-diplomacy Day (16 November 2012). Online learning allows busy professionals to continue training without taking time off from work and family life. At the same time, online learning is maturing: learning methodologies are improving and new platforms are emerging. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are reaching thousands of learners worldwide, while this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos signalled that online learning is likely to be one of the main global developments of 2013.

Read full post on Diplo website here

5 Things Diplomats Should Avoid On Facebook

Successful diplomats often become mini celebrities in the communities they serve. In addition to promoting their country’s interests and conducting diplomatic efforts using social media platforms, diplomats, being human, have their own personal Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts.

Senior diplomats often have a fan page, managed by embassy or consulate staff,

Obama Rejects Wearing Mickey Ears

Obama Rejects Wearing Mickey Ears. Click on pic for full story

and for the most part, the fan pages or official twitter account act as another channel to amplify their country’s voice.

But for those managing their own personal accounts, the challenges are even greater.

Not to mention the hired employees serving their diplomatic mission who at times, forget that although it is their personal account and they are not the diplomats, it is public and their posts have an effect on the mission’s overall online presence.

A quick scan of junior diplomats and hired staff accounts reveals that they are not all aware that comments or opinions they would never express publicly in person should most definitely not be visible to all on Facebook.

Diplomats are human and as humans, they wish to share their thoughts and experiences with their families on the other side of the world.

Here are 5 recommendations based on a what I found in senior, junior and diplomatic staff I have been monitoring for the purpose of this post:

1. Keep your account public but make your personal pictures private or limited to family and close friends.

2. Do not like or comment on local politicians pages. This should be a given. Your professional account may certainly follow politicians as long as you follow all candidates equality and refrain from commenting, since this can and will be interpreted as showing active involvement in local politics.

3. As hard as it may be, avoid posting statements about your own country’s political figures, especially during election season, a time when the rest of the world may be taking a closer look at what is happening in your country.

4. If you are one of those diplomats who rightfully take advantage of being in new surroundings and enjoy spending your free time traveling, by all means, don’t hesitate to share your experiences, but be wise. You do not want to come across as ‘all fun and no work’ (sponsored by public funds).

5. It is truly wonderful to have a friendly working environment at your offices, but a line must be drawn somewhere and it better be Clear on Facebook. A trail of comments made by embassy staff and local community members on a diplomat’s photo wearing Mickey Mouse ears in Disney World from simply cute to absolutely ridiculous. Not to mention the long term managerial challenges you will face upon your return from your lovely vacation.

The best way to approach this all relies heavily on common sense and the constant thought that should always echo in your mind when representing something greater than yourself:

WOULD I ALLOW MYSELF TO BEHAVE THIS WAY OFFLINE?

The answer, multiplied by the combined sum of friends and followers on your personal and professional accounts should be enough to keep you from embarrassing yourself, your mission and your country.

US Ambassador, Dan Shapiro Asks Facebook Fans to Post Obama Pics on Timeline

US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, is asking his 4,500 Facebook fans to post their own Obama-related pictures and memes on his timeline in celebration of the president’s visit, expected this week.

obama visits israel

Israeli memologists are already bombarding social networks

The visit, tagged #obamainisrael has already been honored with an App, available for both Android and iOS devices, designed to give  an inside look at the visit and provide  real-time video and picture updates as well as ways to communicate with the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office at all times.

Given the proximity to Passover, and the frenzy that always surrounds him wherever he goes, this meme is my own personal tribute the president.

Welcome to Israel Mr. President, wishing you a successful visit!

The Power Shift

I had a very productive week.

I started my new job as the managing director of New Family organization and met with a few of my existing and potential clients:

A website building and design company, a PR Strategy company, an SEO and online reputation company and an advocacy group. I also had coffee with a young lawyer longing to find a creative outlet that might incorporate her profession with her passion.

More about my interesting meetings with some some other time, but for now –

I was shocked to find that in a country that is connected to Facebook as if it was an IV such as Israel, in a city so tech, nightlife and creativity-motivated city such as Tel Aviv, that web, PR, marketing and advocacy groups fail to understand the very basic influences of social media on modern society and how it changes (or at least has a tremendous impact) on marketing advocating and PR strategies and tactics; THE POWER SHIFT

As I mentioned in previous posts, today, a person’s voice opinion thought, feeling or experience speaks much louder than any logo or official spokesperson. No more dictating messages. Authenticity is the key to success.

At the Twiplomacy conference held on October 22 (2012) at the Italian embassy in Washington DC, Senior Innovation Adviser to the US Secretary of State, Mr. Alec Ross referred to the exact same point. In this video, Ross explains simply and effectively this very principle that should be understood by professionals, explained to clients and implemented in marketing tactics so as not to waste the client’s hard-earned money, Using new technology in old thinking can only go so far. And those looking for PR, Strategy and Marketing professional’s services should be aware of this before hiring their services.

8 Simple Steps Towards Reaching A Broader Audience

As I have mentioned in previous posts, your country’s achievements may seem wonderful to you and your Diaspora, but if your goal is to make friends for your country, showing off is not enough, and can sometimes be annoying. I mean, if your country has a strong economy and you are promoting that aspect in a country that suffers from high unemployment, you might start pissing people off.

You must show how your country’s achievements benefit the region or city you reside in.

It is classic “What’s In It For Me” only with the mind-set of ‘What’s In It for Them’ elevated by social media, and creating a win for all situation.

For example, let’s say that one of the pillars of your country’s overall branding strategy is its medical field. It is part of your job to make people aware of the fact that you have a lot to offer in that realm. So what’s the problem? Write a few words, add hashtags and attach an article from a website published in your native country raving all about it and post on your Facebook page, right? Sure if you want it to end right there, but if you want to be effective there are more ways to do it, and here is one of them:

  1. Contact the author of the article as well as the hero of the story.
  2. Email the article to local bloggers who would be interested in that content and offer to connect them with the above.
  3. Contact an online medical publication as well as a specific community that would be positively affected by this breakthrough, and get them to publish the story (written by the blogger who picked it up) on their website, newsletter and social networks. Don’t just post it on their page, it works better for all involved if they post it on their website and later share it themselves.
  4. Tell them all that you will be more than happy to promote the post using your mission’s networks as well.
  5. Once it is published, keep your promise and share it on your Social Media Channels using effective hashtags.
  6. Post on your website that the local publication/blog/organization wrote about this amazing discovery in your country, give the gist of it and share the link to where it was published.
  7. Thank the blogger as well as the organization/publication for posting and promise to let them know if and when you receive anything that would be of interest to them and send them the link to the featured article on your website.
  8. Use the information in the article and refer to it in an answer you compose in response to that or a related topic on Quora or any other significant Q&A based social network.

By applying these simple and basic PR moves, you will be able to:

  1. Deliver your message to a broader audience.
  2. Give your country positive exposure.
  3. Make new connections with bloggers, organizations and publications that will in the future be open and willing to receive more information from you and also possibly host or co-sponsor joint events, delegations or co-ops.
  4. Contribute to the local community and show how relevant you are to their day-to-day lives.
  5. Improve your country’s online presence and reputation. The circulation of linked information from one website to another, as well as newsletters, tweets and shares help search engines pick up on you and the story.