The visit by the president of the United States to Israel has always been an
occasion to celebrate the special relationship between the two countries. It is
an opportunity to mark the values and principles we have in common while
expressing our appreciation for the political, diplomatic and military support
given to us by the American people and leaders.
Perhaps more important,
it is also a chance for Israel to emphasize its contributions to the partnership
with the United States. The visit brings with it international media attention
that can be utilized to highlight aspects of the country that routinely do not
get enough attention.
What President Obama refers to as “the unbreakable
bond” is not just a connection between the leaders of the two nations, but first
and foremost a relationship between the countries’ peoples.
connecting between people and establishing dialogue is the key to influencing
Broadly speaking, public diplomacy, or people’s diplomacy
as it is commonly called, is the communication with foreign publics to establish
a dialogue designed to inform and influence. Due to its extraordinary
circumstances, Israel has produced its own unique brand of public diplomacy in
order to be actively involved and directly participate in the government’s
efforts to convey its messages to foreign audiences.
A crucial element in
doing so is the use of social media platforms, where the citizens lead the
public diplomacy efforts. The state encourages participation, capitalizes on the
public’s ingenuity and gives guidance to the public debate.
was proven to be productive and highly successful during the last round of
violence along the Gaza border last November, and has since become the
foundation for the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s activities
in major national public relations operations.
For the visit of President
Obama, the ministry, with the assistance of many dedicated volunteers, has
created social media platforms dedicated to emphasizing the bond between the
peoples of Israel and the United States. Rather than the rhetoric of Israel’s
elected officials, these platforms represent the voice of its
The sites on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest will
provide information leading up to the visit, along with location details, images
While the visit is in progress, the volunteers will work out
of the media center being set up specifically for this occasion by the
Government Press Office. There, they will be connected to the government
operations room while providing up-to-theminute updates on the visit from the
perspective of the Israeli public.
It is my hope, both as a civil servant
and as a citizen, that while our leaders work to improve the ties between our
two nations, these 21st-century efforts serve to strengthen the relationship
between the Israeli and American peoples. The writer is the deputy
director-general of the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry.
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