Ellen’s Oscar Selfie Reaches the UN

One cannot overlook the magnitude of the conversation around Ellen’s star spangled selfie.

The latest to fall for the trend –
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Mr. Ron Prosor and his dedicated staff taking a quick moment away from the whole Russia invades the Crimea thing; the latest Middle East drama of the massive Iranian weapons shipment raided in the Suez Canal and of course, the usual crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by dictators such as Assad & Kim Jong Un.

Out of all the crap I’ve seen in the last couple of days – this one is definitely sits comfortably in my list of top 5 Ellen’s Oscar selfie memes.

Enjoy!

ellen oscar selfie at the UN

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Who’s the 1st Head of State to Use Facebook’s New Q&A Technology?

President Shimon Peres’ digital team are going for yet another record,

this time, using Facebook’s latest Q&A technology.

Click here to join the event.

Hurry up it’s about to start!

Shimon Peres on Facebook

Heads of State on Instagram

We didn’t need Selfiegate to teach us that Instagram is probably the ultimate tool for camera happy politicians and diplomats.

Prime Minister of Russia Demitry Medvedev on Instagram

Prime Minister of Russia Demitry Medvedev’s Instagram Profile Pic

This week, Instagram posted a list of Heads of State accounts worth following on their tumblr blog.

Here it is:

  • Elio Di Rupo, Prime Minister of Belgium — @eliodirupo
  • Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil — @palaciodoplanalto
  • Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada — @pmstephenharper
  • Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of Jordan — @queenrania
  • Ani Yudhoyono, First Lady of Indonesia — @aniyudhoyono
  • Shimon Peres, President of Israel — @shimonperes
  • Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya — @ukenyatta
  • Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia — @najib_razak
  • Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico — @penanieto
  • Horacio Cartes, President of Paraguay — @horaciocartespy
  • Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of Russia — @damedvedev
  • Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore — @leehsienloong
  • Borut Pahor, President of Slovenia — @borutpahor
  • Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey — @cbabdullahgul
  • European Parliament — @europeanparliament
  • Clarence House — Members of the United Kingdom’s Royal Family including The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry — @clarencehouse

Click here to view the full list of best accounts of heads of state to follow on Instagram

#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

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.

Digital Diplomacy Colors the AppStore RED

On November 17th, I posted one of my most viewed posts “Gaza Shells Israel on Twitter” where I tried to make the point that the lack of Israeli presence on Twitter is harming the country’s public diplomacy efforts in light of the latest round of hostilities between Gaza and Israel. I simply said: “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.”

Surely enough, today, only two days later, an app named “Tzeva Adom” (literal translation: Color Red, which is the name of the sirens sounded throughout the country when a rocket is fired in its direction) appeared in the AppStore!

color red siren app israel

The Tzeva Adom App as appears in the AppStore

Funnily enough, I learned about it from an article on Ynetnews, reporting that Knesset (Parliament) Member Gila Gamliel from the Likud party currently in power, called upon foreign ambassadors posted in Israel to download the app in order to “get some understanding of what is going on in Southern-Israel”.

Whether this was a direct result of my post, a spark of common sense or lessons well learned on the go, it is interesting to see the growing understanding of the importance of digital diplomacy and how to utilize it as part of the overall diplomatic effort.

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.