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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Benjamin Netanyahu’s Grumpy Cat Impression

Benjamin Netanyahu’s social media team might have made the worst possible Facebook timeline photo upload choice, following the Israeli PM’s UN speech.

Why the worst? Not just because Netanyahu looks like he is doing an impression of Grumpy Cat, but mainly because his last UN speech regarding Iran, makes

benjamin netanyahu at the unIsrael appear as the peace refusnik.

The post says: “I’d like to thank the citizens of Israel for the many responses to my speech. I feel honored and privilaged to represent you”.

A note to team Netanyahu – Always consider the context of your posts, and remember that not everyone gets paid to praise your boss.

#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

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.

Trying to Define Digital Diplomacy

Being in the field of digital diplomacy, talking about it and wanting to write about it has driven me to Google ‘digital diplomacy definition’ every once in a while. Guess what. Every time I do it, I come across the same things:

  1. An opening sentence that reads ” There is yet and official definition for digital diplomacy” (mine included)
  2. “The differences between diplomacy and digital diplomacy are…”
  3. Stories and articles by or about professionals who engage citizens in the name of the government via their own websites and social media networks.

At first I thought it to be the fact that the field is still in its infancy and that no one is ready to set something in stone when it is still crystallizing. Interestingly enough, even the ancient practice of defense/military diplomacy doesn’t yet have an official definition.

I am in no position to try to define digital diplomacy. But I do hope that by sharing some of my thoughts I will be able to contribute to the work process of whoever steps up to the challenge and is accepted by most.

Let’s take a look at a few simplistic definitions of diplomacy and see if and how digital diplomacy applies to them.

Diplomacy:

  • The art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations.
  • A process of conducting activities with tact in order to bring about good relationships.

Public Diplomacy:

Any of the ways in which a country or organization communicates with citizens in other societies as opposed to diplomacy carried out between 2 or more national governments.

Defense and Military Diplomacy:

Peaceful application of military and defense resources to contribute to the development and maintenance of a country’s foreign relations via attachés who help facilitate agreements, treaties, visits joint drills and other forms of peaceful military engagement.

Given those definitions, is it safe to say that digital diplomacy is a form of public diplomacy in which a government engages citizens in other societies? Yes.

Can we also say that it is a means to facilitate activities (‘with tact’) in order to bring about good relations between countries? Yes.

Can it also be said that peaceful application of military resources to the development and maintenance of a country’s foreign relations can also include secure online portals, messaging, instant messaging, forums and information shares? Yes.

Can we also include a government’s engagement with its own citizens, as well as UN and consular corps diplomats’ online engagements into this whole one-to-many conversation? Yes.

I don’t want to get too wordy, but I did promise to dig deep… So I will be taking these definitions apart separately in future blog posts. Hopefully giving more answers than posing questions.