After it’s success in raising worldwide controversy over its fabricated Third Intifada Page on FaceBook, Israel now intends to exploit the site to its full extent to promote itself.

Israeli embassies around the world have already begun to manage Facebook pages, but now the Foreign Ministry intends to make more efficient use of the network to improve Israel’s image.

Israel to promote itself on Facebook

Deputy foreign minister meets networking site’s managers to discuss plans for online PR

WASHINGTON – The government intends to turn the social network Facebook into the main platform for Israeli online public relations, investing a lot of resources on creating an efficient strategy to utilize the 600 million-large’ network.

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon visited the California offices of the network on Friday, and met with company heads including Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and VP of Advertising and Global Operations David Fischer, who is the son of Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer.

The Foreign Ministry is set on turning the famous social network into the main platform for Israeli online public relations both in English and in Arabic. Officials in Jerusalem have expressed their belief that Facebook is a friendly platform for communication with young people around the world, allowing for distribution of messages through video clips and games.

Israeli embassies around the world have already begun to manage Facebook pages, but now the Foreign Ministry intends to make more efficient use of the network to improve Israel’s image.

Ayalon’s meetings are intended to foster a relationship between the Israeli government and Facebook heads. Ayalon has also invited Facebook managers to visit Israel in order to meet with internet entrepreneurs and participate in the Presidential Conference expected to take place in Jerusalem next June.

The deputy foreign minister displayed before them Israel’s high-tech abilities, noting that Intel Company is the biggest private employer in Israel, with more than 7,000 employees.

Following Facebook’s slow response in closing the internet page calling for a “third Intifada” and a violent protest against Israel, Facebook managers clarified that in the future they intend to deactivate any pages preaching violence. They also stated Facebook plans to open a marketing center in Israel.

Face to face with Israel’s critics

The United States’ government is already cooperating with major internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to develop media tools intended to reach citizens around the world, especially in developing communities. Young Egyptians, for example, were part of a program advertised by the State Department online. These youths later organized protests in their country via Facebook.

Ayalon met with California Governor Jerry Brown and told him that due to a travel warning issued by California to Israel there are currently no student exchanges between Israeli and Californian universities.

Ayalon mentioned that these programs, with leading universities such as Stanford and Berkley, are a crucial tool for acknowledging and learning about Israel’s reality. Brown responded that he will act to cancel the orders.

As he left the meeting Ayalon ran into an anti-Israel protest, experiencing first-hand the great objection against Israel and its policies. He approached demonstrators, who were holding posters demanding the US government stop funding Israel “because of the occupation”, and attempted to speak with them. This rare dialogue caught the attention of those passing by, some of whom expressed their support of Ayalon.

Remember Israel’s last PR campaign….. here it is;

In an effort to combat these movements and polish the tarnished image of the Israeli army in light of numerous allegations of war crimes by UN reports, a group named StandWithUs is sponsoring a tour during which six Israeli army soldiers will speak about their experiences.

UN reports including the Goldstone Report about the January 2009 siege on Gaza by Israel that was released in September 2009 and a UN report released this month examining Israel’s attacks on an aid flotilla in international waters against activists in May both alleged numerous war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers. The Israeli army also upholds a blockade and occupation against the Gaza Strip that British Prime  Minister David Cameron called a “prison camp.”

The Michigan tour stops will feature speeches by two soldiers named Omer and Shai. They will visit Michigan State University in Lansing on Oct. 19 and The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor on Oct.  20.

Many in the Arab American and pro-Palestinian communities are concerned that the  tour is not about imparting knowledge, but is instead a glorified PR campaign in response to the BDS movement and an attempt to gain sympathy for Israel at a time when  sentiments are turning against them on college campuses in concert with international movements.

“Such a tour is intended to undermine the growing BDS efforts on American campuses. As you know, the University of Michigan-Dearborn (UM-D) Student Government passed yet another divestment resolution last year, and will likely approve one this year as well,” said Dr. David Skrbina, professor of Philosophy at UM-D.

Michigan-Dearborn was one of numerous universities  that have passed resolutions in support of boycotting companies that allegedly support Israel’s military.

“The Israeli army has not been facing good press within the media regarding the flotilla attacks and with how they treat the Palestinians in occupied Palestine,” said Mahde Abdallah, a senator in the UM-D Student Government. “Them coming to polish their image is just showing that they’re worried about the pro-Palestinian movements on campuses in the US.”

StandWithUs contends they’re simply wishing to impart knowledge, using both this tour and their website Soldiers Speak Out to correct misconceptions.

“We created this website because a few isolated allegations from ‘anti-war’ Israeli soldiers are being used to defame the Israeli Defense Forces  (IDF),” said Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of Stand WithUs.  “Yet the IDF has over 700,000 citizen soldiers and  reservists who try to live up to its high ethical standards. The IDF impartially  judges all alleged violations, and punishes offenders.”

StandWithUs reports that the two soldiers who are visiting the campuses have received honors in the military and have upheld all the moral codes of the Israeli Army.

Skrbina doesn’t think this tour will help the image of the Israeli army much, however, as evidence continues to mount against their declarations of upholding a high moral standard.

“They have an uphill battle, thanks to Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and at sea,“ he said. “They are sponsoring this ‘tour’ by two IDF soldiers to argue that Israel is only ‘defending itself’… and to show that the soldiers are really ‘nice guys’. Any soldiers who are involved with enforcing an illegal occupation are clearly not ‘nice guys’.”

Source Inluding Photos


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