NY Consulate reaches out with blog

"Our message needs to reach the young generation, and to do this we had to think outside the box."

israelli blog 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
israelli blog 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In the last few months, the Israeli Consulate in New York has ventured into the world of blogs as a way to expand their public relations efforts. The country is the first to launch a national blog that will seek to expose the ordinary activities of Israelis living in Israel and New York as a way to make connections between the youth of both countries. "We understand that one blog won't make a revolution, but the State of Israel having a blog makes a statement," said David Saranga, consul of media and public affairs. "Our message needs to reach the young generation, and to do this we had to think outside the box." Another facet of Israel's public relations campaign, the blog will steer away from war-related topics and introduce young Americans to Israel's fashion houses, nightlife, cultural institutions, science and technology. "We have problems with two main communities in America - with liberals and the young generation," said Saranga. "The reason we have a problem with liberals is because of the political situation, and the young generation doesn't see Israel as relevant." The blog, which is in English, was initiated in an effort to make Israel more relevant to the younger generations. "We want them to understand that members of the young generation in Israel have the same characteristics as Americans, that Israelis live a normal life." A little over a year ago, Consul General Arye Mekel and Saranga met with media mogul Rupert Murdoch who told them he had invested in MySpace (an online forum for sharing information) because he understood that young people do not read newspapers. The Foreign Ministry took Murdoch's advice and followed suit, entering the world of blogs. The blog, www.isrealli.org, plays on the words Israel and "Is real" and will focus on the non-political aspects of Israeli society. One recent post explores biking blind on a tandem bike with seeing partners; another summarizes the Israeli response to the movie Borat. "Our policy is very simple," said Saranga. "We are uploading everything except political issues. If someone writes a political entry, we refer him elsewhere." But Saranga, who together with other members of the ministry will edit and write blog entries, said he will not censor criticism of Israel. "If I want to create a dialogue between Israelis and others, a true dialogue is where everyone can express what he thinks," Saranga said. "I don't have a problem with people criticizing Israel; I think it also contributes to the credibility of the blog." Next week, the blog will be translated into Spanish to inaugurate the consulate's attempt to reach the Hispanic community in America, currently the largest minority and expected to become increasingly influential. Some of the existing English entries will simply be translated into Spanish, while others will be written to target the specific interests of the Hispanic community. "Especially when it comes to the Israeli conflict, the Latino media is gaining information from South America and Spain who are critical of Israel," said Saranga. "When it comes to the young generation, I want them to know about Israel from Israelis." In the future, the ministry plans to translate the blog into German, Arabic and French. "This will be a great opportunity to show people in the Arab world normal life in Israel," said Saranga. "This way we could bypass the Arab media and reach the people," Saranga added.