(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
They may be able to filibuster for hours straight, but can they tweet a message
in 140 characters?
RELATED:Danon warns that Palestinians will have 'Facebook State' Knesset members learn how to use Facebook, Twitter
On Tuesday, MKs participated in a workshop designed to better
acquaint them with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social networking tools
that may be popular with the younger crowd, but can also be an important link in
a parliamentary democracy.
Almost a dozen lawmakers attended the Tuesday
afternoon workshop, which was hosted by Shlomit Habaron, content director of a
government website designed to make the government more available to the general
The legislators showed particular interest in uses of Facebook to
maintain contact with voters, and asked questions about the differences among
different social networking devices – between Twitter and Facebook, as well as
among “walls,” “statuses” and “information” pages.
“In an era in which so
many lobbyists are at work, it is important that MKs enter the world of ‘tweets’
and ‘statuses,’ so that they have a direct and ready connection with the
electorate. We are taking another step to support informal meeting between MKs
and the public,” Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said during the
The workshop tried to convey a picture of the different global
networks, and emphasized Facebook, which is currently being used by
approximately 3 million Israelis – including at least 50 of the 120 Knesset
“The nature of MKs’ public service is changing before our eyes,”
Rivlin said. “I hope that Facebook will bring the MKs to better understand their
mission, because there are those who forget it after a while.
don’t see those who elected you, you may forget them. When an MK won’t simply
see behind them a lobbyist, but will be connected to hundreds and thousands who
take interest in their actions day-by-day, and even hour-byhour, they will think
five times about what they are doing, and will give a constant accounting
regarding their actions.
“For me it may be too late,” Rivlin, 71,
continued wryly. “I don’t know how to use social networks, and I even get help
with my e-mails from my aides, and from my wife and grandchildren.”
idea for the workshop started with a letter sent by MKs Robert Tibayev (Kadima),
Uri Orbach (Haybayit Hayehudi), Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), Ilan Gilon (Meretz),
Afo Agbaria (Hadash) and Israel Beiteinu MKs David Rotem, Anastasia Michaeli,
Faina Kirschenbaum and Orly Levy.
“Social network sites are a very
important tool in preserving and maintaining a relationship with voters,” the
lawmakers wrote in the letter to Rivlin. “Today, voters expect regular updates
every one to two days on the leaders they voted for, although some members still
are not able to maximize the benefits by the use of social network
As elected officials, it is crucial for us to know how to maintain
regular contact with our voters by the use of key tools. This is not a luxury,
but a basic skill, and it is important that the Knesset not remain
Knesset director-general Dan Landau opened the workshop with a
discussion of elected official-voter relations via the Internet in other
countries, a subject that he has been studying for months as part of the
Knesset’s attempt to upgrade its computer interface with the public.
in Great Britain, he said, there is only a marginal interest in following
parliamentary activities through Facebook, he warned.
“One needs to find
the right way to use the Net wisely, so that it is not turned from popular to
pathetic,” Landau said.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.