The following post was written by Heather Morrison
I recently returned from my first trip to Israel. During the last leg of my trip, the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas came to an end. The news coming through from Gaza was anything but comforting. My fellow travelers and I spent time each day checking various websites and news stations for updates and information. Upon returning to Canadian soil, I continued to check for Israel-related news and was interested to find that Israel has looked to Social Media to further its voice.
The Citizens Press Conference hosted on Twitter December 30, by the Israel Consulate in New York, was first to grab my attention. Questions from the Twitter community were directed to 6 members of the Consulate staff who answered them live, later posting the transcript to their website. The conference was seen as a great success by the Consulate in getting the official message to their audience in real time. The event received positive attention from various blogs such as Global Voices Online, as well as the mainstream media including CNN and the Washington Post.
In a follow up interview, David Saranga, Media and Public Affairs Consul, said Twitter was the best platform for this type of conference because it delivered full, to the point answers to a younger generation; and allowed Twitterers already discussing Gaza to engage in conversations with an official voice – helping to dispel confusion and myths.
YouTube has also been put to use. The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) created a YouTube channel December 29th to house video blogs and footage of the ongoing crisis, while the Consul houses less conflict-related material on their channel.
Israel is also making use of the blogosphere to convey messages to the public. Both the IDF and Consulate have blogs which can be found at www.idfspokesperson.com and www.israelpolitik.org, respectively. Israelpolitik.org also includes a question/answer section, for ongoing dialogue and discussion, and links to Israel’s official Facebook and Myspace sites.
All in all it looks like Israel has seen the benefits of social media and continues to use different applications for various events/situations. Given the success political campaigns have realized by incorporating Social Media, will other nations follow suit?
Heather Morrison is an Account Executive at CNW Group. Her previous post for BlogCampaigning is entitled "Building Your Twitter Empire" and she is @HMorrison on Twitter. For more on the use of the web in the recent conflict, check out this article by Jart Armin about how the battle is being fought online.