Netanyahu’s Candy Crush Saga

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu uploaded a Youtube greeting for Rosh Hashana, the new Jewish year featuring himself playing Candy Crush Saga on his Ipad.

With a map and an Israeli flag hanging behind him, Netanyahu talks about how hardship can be dealt with using the power of thought and concentration, while the game’s all too familiar music plays in the background.

Cute or embarrassing? Judge for yourselves:

(I’m sorry, there are no subtitles but i’m sure you’ll get the idea)

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#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

Winds of a Cyber War

In a ceremony attended by some of the country’s major cyber security engineers and executives as well as political figures and financial leaders,  Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, inaugurated the new, state-of-the-art High-Tech Park, in the southern city of Be’er Sheva.

In his speech, Netanyahu referred to cyber and information security as a top priority for Israel, not only as a world leader in this field but also due to the reality in the region. And the reality in the region is certainly much to be concerned about at the moment and one cannot overlook the timing of this pre-planned event that took place today, while the world waits for congress to ratify U.S. President Barrack Obama’s convictions regarding the situation in Syria.

With a U.S. strike against Syrian targets in the horizon come the usual threats on Israel by Syria and Iran, followed by Netanyahu’s constant reminders that Israel will strike back if attacked.

Will striking back include a cyber attack as well? Has there been a change in the existing cyber defense doctrine? Has the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad ever trained a cyber army as he did an entire military corps for chemical warfare?

Chances are he didn’t. In that case, who are the combatants? Are they paid hackers? Ideologist hackers? Of which nationality are these groups or individuals? Are these questions even relevant in a world that is getting smaller thanks to big data analysis?

I leave it with the experts, knowing only that cyber warfare puts the civilian population on any side as well as traditional national strategic targets more vulnerable than ever before, and opens a window for sectarian, partisan, guerrilla and civilian groups to take matters in their own hands by intervening in a way scarier and more chaotic than any amphibious landing on any shore.

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.

US Embassy Digital Job Opportunities

US embassy jobs

For people interested in Digital Diplomacy, please note that you don’t have to be an organic part of your country’s foreign service. Emabssies and Consulates outsource specific jobs, many of them in communications and social media.

Such a job can be a great professional and personal experience and will help you makes career decisions in the future.

For those seeking to work for the US foreign service in a digital-oriented job –

I know of one in Tel aviv and another internship in Stockholm.

Note that the deadlines are up very soon.

Good Luck!

Deadly Smartphones

The military is probably the most threatened organization by the digital revolution. This is one of the main reasons why today’s militaries across the world, though pushing for rapid technological advancement, remain as primitive as they possibly can when it comes to basic telecommunications.

I can’t begin to describe how frustrating it ishomeland security not to be able to use a flash drive, a Gmail account or connect an outlook address to a phone. I mean, come on, this is the military, no?

The Israeli military, for example, is in the midst of upgrading its staff’s cell phones to the latest iOS and Android models. Knowing that high speed internet connections and high resolution cameras,

as well as personal involvement in social media networks come with a high risk to national security, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched an extensive awareness campaign along with rewriting its telecom field intelligence doctrines.

Before you is an inside look at the advertising campaign which has already been shared via military diplomacy channels, with counterparts around the world who are facing the same challenges:

Who is the Target Audience? instagram for diplomacy

The military, in Israel as well as all over the world, is a client which heavily restricts the advertising agency in all its departments, which definitely has its toll on the creative department but at the same time, poses a great challenge to produce excellent results that is memorable and truly penetrates the target audience. The campaign was intended for the senior officers of the Israel Defense Forces, as part of the organized transition to smart phones in the use of military personnel. The campaign ran in the various military bases and concentrated mostly on print and related BTL materials, as part of a nationwide information campaign scope.

Maintaining Maximum Minimalism

The specific target audience of this campaign was mostly officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. The underlying assumption was that the target audience is intelligent and that we have to touch a nerve in order to get to them, while striving to maintain maximum twiplomacyminimalism. The response of the Israel Defense Forces officers was very positive resulted in minimal violations of the regulations imposed by the IDF’s Information Security Department. When addressing soldiers, it is best to use terminology relevant to the military world, therefore the smart phone applications were turned into “arms” in order to convey the message that media can serve as a “weapon” if used incorrectly.

The audience is asked “not to point it at us” (i.e to be used under the proper Field Security regulations). A simple message, precise and visually clear backed with a wink and used in slang and updated lingo.

Sense and Sensibility

With technological progress and endless media options available today comes the major challenge of keeping information secure, a severe problem for an organization of high sensitivity as IDF intelligence. Israel Defense Forces, like many western armies around the world, upgraded to smart mobile phone use by officers in order to improve communication within the military. The main challenge faced by military officials after this move, is the prevention of leakage of confidential content and classified information. As part of coping with the challenge, the IDF contacted a well known advertising company in request to produce a campaign highlighting the phone’s weak spots in relation to information security.

In a country like Israel, where security issues are particularly sensitive, the importance of a wide- ranged campaign was gravely important. In addition to the campaign, a special PR team was established to hop between bases to provide workshops on the subject. Ideological concept of the campaign – the smart phone is a weapon. Do not point it against us.

Known icons from the app world, smart phones and social networks were given a visual twist making them resemble weapons, thus visually iphone killssharpening the sense of danger.

The campaign was well received by the officers and soldiers. It ran in all IDF units (though the initial thought was to run the campaign strictly in the Intelligence Corps). In addition, the campaign was presented to senior intelligence officers of other countries military organizations who as a result, will be adapting the method, namely the Italian and American armies.

I recently visited my old base, reporting for reserve duty, and indeed, the posters are up everywhere: Twitters cute little bird dropping a bomb, Instagram’s lens zoning in on a target, Facebook’s F is holding a gun and so many more little deathly adaptations of icons. At times visually forced but overall very cute and effective.

Too bad they can’t spread them on a banner due to security restrictions…

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!