The Israel Foreign Ministry is speaking Arabic, on Facebook. The Facebook page which was launched in early January, entitled "Israel speaks Arabic" in Arabic, was opened by the Foreign Ministry's Media and Public Affairs Department and is devoted exclusively to Arabic-speaking audiences. The Foreign Ministry maintains over 100 Facebook pages for its diplomatic missions abroad.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon explained that this is part of the Ministry's wider efforts in the social media and particularly to the Arabic-speaking world. "It is vital that Israel's voice is heard in every corner of the world and even more so amongst its immediate neighbors," Ayalon said. "Facebook provides an unfiltered medium to speak directly to the people without any intermediary."
"We can see from the feedback on the page that there is immense interest in Israel and we are slightly surprised by the amount of support we have received thus far, it is encouraging," continued Ayalon, who recently visited Facebook headquarters in San Francisco as part of integrating Israel's ongoing public diplomacy campaign.
Ayalon who has popular Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages and was one of the first Israeli politicians to become involved in social media platforms is also a frequent guest in the Arabic media. "Too many write off the Arab world as lost, but from the first moment I came into office I have regularly interviewed for the Arabic media, including penning an op-ed titled "An Open Letter to the Arab World" in the largest pan-Arab paper last year, and I think the recent unrest in the Middle East has shown how savvy the Arab youth are and we need to engage with them," Ayalon said.
The pages are run by the Foreign Ministry's Deputy Director General for Media and Public Affairs Yigal Caspi with a newly formed Digital DIplomacy team. "We launched the page to gauge the reaction of the Arabic-speaking world on Israel away from the headlines, where people can say what they want on a personal basis," says Caspi. "Since the launch we have received over 120,000 visits to the page, from across the Arab World."
The page launched in early January and has already amassed over 20,000 fans. The page greets its visitors with a welcome message: "Hello, welcome to the official Facebook page of the State of Israel in Arabic."
The page is updated regularly and apart from content on the political situation, posts feature Israelis singing in Arabic, videos and pictures of Israel and articles about coexistence in Israel.
The Arabic page can be found at the following link: http://www.facebook.com/IsraelArabic
The Ministry is now launching a Facebook page dedicated to Persian speakers. http://www.facebook.com/IsraelPersian