Israeli Foreign Ministry taking battle over image online

09:23, May 26, 2011      

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The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it is preparing for an all-out, online onslaught by pro- Palestinian groups in the run-up to a possible United Nations General Assembly resolution in September calling for a Palestinian state.

After an online campaign to rev up mass marches of thousands of Palestinian protestors on Israel's borders on "Nakba Day" two weeks ago, Israeli officials say they've invested time, money and manpower in a rearguard action to gain control of key hilltops on the digital battlefields: Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, blogs, chat rooms, and newspaper talk-backs.

The ministry said it has been preparing strategic and tactical responses for more than six months, including entrees to the Arab world offering an unmediated view of Israel.

"When it comes to Israel, they're interested," a ministry official told Xinhua on Wednesday. As well, "Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has a personal and very active Facebook page and Twitter account, and is one of the most involved Israeli officials in utilizing this strategy," according to the official.

"It is vital that Israel's voice is heard in every corner of the world and even more so amongst its immediate neighbors," Ayalon said in a statement on the ministry's website.

Chaim Shacham, who heads the ministry's Information and Internet department, told The Marker business newspaper that there is a group overseeing ministry websites in English, Arabic, Russian, Farsi, and Hebrew. Officials are carefully monitoring what Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak dubbed an approaching " diplomatic tsunami" in the autumn.

"We have formulated some arguments that are relevant to what's going to happen in September, even if we don't know exactly what it will be," the Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

"We began disseminating these arguments and statements, backed by links to documents and articles, among the relevant bloggers and social media members. From our perspective we've already begun the battle over publicity, though formally, nothing has begun," Palmor told The Marker.

"We are intensively preparing ahead of September," according to Shacham.

Shacham said the ministry plans to soon launch Youtube channels in Chinese, Russian, and Spanish, as part of its public diplomacy initiative.

Source: Xinhua
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