Friday, November 26, 2010

Ghajar as the mirror of the Middle Eastern reality

Did you hear this name - Ghajar? Small village on the Israeli-Lebanese border, that made big headlines last week after the Government of Israel decided to withdraw from the northern part of the village. Know why?

The residents of the village, who belong to the alaouite branch of Islam protested against this decision and even organized demonstration demanding to stay under the control of Israel. I will repeat, so you didn't miss the point: the 2200 residents of the Muslim village of Ghajar demanded to stay under the Israeli control.

A short historic introduction: after the withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon in 2000, the United Nations identified and approved “the blue line" - the border between Israel and Lebanon. According to this line, the village was divided into two parts: northern part that was in Lebanon, and the southern part in Israel. After the war with Hezbollah in 2006, Israel withdrew from all of the Lebanese territory, accept for the northern part of Ghajar in order to prevent Hezbollah from easy access to the border. Last Wednesday, on November 17, the Israeli government decided to comply with the resolution of the UN SC 1701 and instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to complete the details of the arrangement in coordination with UNIFIL.

The international community seems to be happy about this decision, judging by the official statements. The residents of Ghajar are not in this mood. "Our life is going to become a hell. We have nothing to do with Lebanon", said Najib Khatib, spokesperson for the residents.

It looks like we have another proof that the reality on the ground is different from that created by the UN designers in NY.

A little bit embarrassing, isn’t it?

(translated from original post in french in "Ma Parole!" )

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christians in the Middle East : Where the numbers are growing?

Since the deadly terrorist attacks against churches in Baghdad, there are a lot of discussions and reports about the plight of the Christian population in the Middle East. While this is definitely the case for almost all of the countries in the Middle East, there is one country where the number of Christians kept growing for the last 62 years. Your guess is correct - this is Israel.

The Christian population In Israel after the establishment of our state was 34.000 people. At the time, most of the Christian population in Israel was concentrated in Jerusalem, Haifa and in the area of Galilee. Among the Christians, the major ethnic group was Arabs, with small Armenian minority in the Old City of Jerusalem, and other small ethnic groups.

In 2010, the Christian population of Israel is 5 times bigger than it was in the 1948 - and reached almost 200.000 people. Arab Christians are still the biggest ethnic group in the Christian population, but since the beginning of the 90s, the Russian-speaking Christian population was also growing significantly. The explanation for this is the wave of the immigration from the former Soviet Union, among which there was a high number of mixed marriages. As the result, many more worshipers are coming to the prayer services and churches reopening their doors.

If there is a place for Christians in the Middle East where they can live like everybody else, enjoy the true freedom of religion and worship in the churches without being threatened, this is Israel. Israel is the true model of coexistence of people coming from different cultures, faiths and religions. By the way, it's not only Christians who enjoy the religious freedom. Different religious groups who are persecuted in other countries of the Middle East, like followers of Baha’i religion in Iran, found a safe refuge in Israel, where they can pray their God and live without threat to their religion and way of life.

Unfortunately, out of fear, or confusion, or I don’t know what, some people are looking at the wrong direction in their search for responsible for the plight of Christians in the Middle East. It’s time to say clear and loud what is the source of this problem and find a solution, before it will become too late.

(translated from original post in french in "Ma Parole!" )

Monday, November 15, 2010

Googletranslating - a new tendancy in blogging?

Two days ago I found something quite revealing: the blog I am doing in French was fully translated into English! Nobody contacted me about this, I found it by chance on the twitter account of the site called JEWPI - Jewish Press International. The blog has the same appearance as the original blog, you can see by yourself:

Original blog (in French):

The translated version (in English):

When I looked closely at theat blog,I saw that in fact this was not a human-made translation, it was Google Translate. However, the conclusion I made out of it is that the blogs by diplomats are something that people are looking for, and they don't care even if it's not high-quality translation.

Food for thought.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Diplomatic blogging in Paris - first steps in PD 2.0 journey

It's been a long time since I wrote post on this blog. 3 months ago I moved to Paris after being appointed as media advisor to the Israeli embassy in France. So, in addition to all the necessary arrangements you have to do when moving to a new country, I also opened a new blog, this time in French, which became part of my new job. All beginnings are difficult, so I had to take a break from my 2 other blogs, this one and the one in Hebrew. After all, writing for 3 different blogs, in 3 different languages (of which none is your native language...) is not an easy task...

Now I hope to be back on track on all the blogs, and I would like to tell you something about our social media efforts in the embassy, where we put into practice some ideas that were discussed in this blog:

I must tell, the first results of my diplomatic blogging were quite up to my expectations. After 3 month of my digital activity in Paris, the link to my blog, called "Ma Parole!", is published on 2 french blogs dealing with Israel and is well-known among the Israel supporters in France. The major target audience of the blog is journalists and the people dealing with news on the Middle East. Therefore, in my meetings with journalists I tell them about my blog and Twitter, and today there are between 10 to 20 journalists and bloggers who follow me on twitter and read my posts. One of the journalists posted his reaction to one of the posts.

One of the most important things I had to think before opening the blog was what does it mean for a diplomat, who is supposed to represent official position, to have a personal blog? If you publish on it only official documents, it would be just like an official website. If you talk there about your personal views, you are not exactly spokesperson of the embassy...

What I realised after 3 months of trial and error, is that as a diplomat you can say a lot more on blog than you could imagine. Using your blog and other social media tools, you could relate to the issues published in the local media that are not of interest to your headquarters, but are important if you want to engage with the local audience. You could tell to the local public about things happening in your country that were not published in the local media. You can help energize your supporters on internet who will help you spread the word about your country.

We have made some other changes in the embassy's public diplomacy 2.0 efforts:

1. We've opened a new website of the Embassy, based on the Wordpress platform, that allows us interactivity with our audience: After 2 months we've reached 25.000 visits.
2. In addition to my personal twitter, we have opened an official Twitter of the Press Service of the Embassy:!/IsraelPresse
3. Today we have two fan pages on Facebook: one for the Information Service, and one for the cultural Activities of the Embassy
This separation proves to be very effective. We are planning opening another page for the consular services.
4. Our economic mission is in the process of building a blog that will focus on the economic cooperation between Israel and France.
We also invited a famous journalist to make an interview with the ambasssador:

Those are first steps. The results are so far encouraging, but we are still in the beginning of the road. Hope to be in the middle of the road in 2-3 months.

Monday, June 28, 2010

How to work with the traditional media using the tools of social media?

Next month I will start my new diplomatic appointment - media advisor and spokesperson of the Israeli embassy to France.

It's the second time I will work as a spokesperson for the embassy. 10 years ago I did the same job in Moscow. Looks like the same job? Of course, Moscow is not Paris, Russia is not France, however the journalists are journalists everywhere, and the TV, newspapers and radio have much in common. But there is a big, huge, enormous BUT, that changed the world in the last 10 years. It's called social media.

10 years ago there was no Facebook. No Twitter. No Youtube. Even no DailyMotion or And, of course, no other social networks. Blogs were something marginal, and no part of the mass media, anyway.

Today it's all history. Small correction: a history in making, since what we do today with the social media and how social media interacts with the traditional media are things that we learn by the method of error and trial. It's still new for most of us, and it's all about permanent on-the-job training. I've started to reflect on the implications of this change for press-officers in the dimplomatic missions (spokespeople, porte-paroles) - for us, diplomats in the embassies, who do the everyday interaction with the media.

Here are my thoughts on how to work with the traditional media using the tools of new, social, media.
Important note: all these reflections are based on the assumption that you have your communication strategy goals already set.

1. Open Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Youtube (and yes, purchase video camera if you still don't have one) accounts. Twitter is your channel to talk to everybody, LinkedIn - a channel to talk to the professionals, and Facebook - to talk to your friends. You can and should differentiate your messages on these - or other - networks according to your communication strategy.

For example: on LinkedIn, speak about your embassy economic activities, on Facebook - about your cultural activities, on both - about your country's foreign aid. On Twitter you can talk about everything, and the same goes for Youtube.

2. Social media is not a substitute for personal contact. Keep meeting with journalists, going to eat and drink together, calling them to ask what's new, or to update on things you want them to know. BUT: don't forget to ask them if they tweet or have blog, or Facebook or LinkedIn accounts, and tell them about yours. Get them used to your social media presence, follow them, and make them follow you.

3. When you want to communicate to media your embassy's activities, please don't limit yourself to the old-fashioned practice of sending press-release and asking (or, worse, waiting!) them to publish it. Instead of words, use images. Make video-clip, or attach pictures, or both, that will show what your embassy did or is going to do. Send it to TV, newspapers and radio, but also put it in your social media places.

4. Did you heard the cliche that in the age of social media everybody is a journalist and a movie producer? Well, it's true, and it means also that ... you can do it as well! On the practical level: start presenting your country, your government or embassy in your blog, your Facebook page and so on, in a way you want it to be perceived and known. Of course, you cannot lie or say things that don't exist, but you definitely can and should show the things that are not presented in the media. Remember, that information you give is perceived as less objective since it's official - but for the same reason it's a trusted source of inforation, because governments are perceived to be more accountable than regular users.

5. Engage with the traditional media through social media: Respond to the artcile they write (or broadcast) about your country. If they published something bad and unfair about your country, you don't have to beg them to publish a correction (anyway, you know, they will do it too late, and in the most invisible pat of the newspaper). You just have to put a responce on your social media places and distribute it widely. From here you can understand the importance of expanding your audience.

6. In the age of social media, we can become a news agency. Sometimes the problems with the image of your country begin not at the level of opinion making, but at the very beginning of the news producing process: facts reporting. With the help of the social media you can be the first to report about the event, without distortive and prejudice attitudes of the traditional media. What you need to do is to monitor events in our country and update on them public and media in your mission's hosting country. You have all the chances to report before the news from newsagencies will reach the hosting country. However, to compete with the newsagency you will have to spend more resourses and time, and this brings us back to the issue of communcation strategy goals.

I invite you to tell me what you think about this. Thank you.

US Tweetplomacy

American diplomacy and the State Department could serve as a good
example of using social media in their work. American embassies were
among the first to open Twitter accounts and use it for professional
goals. The most well-known example of using Twitter by US embassy
happened 4 years ago in Madagaskar during the coup d'etat attempt
against the president of this country. The US embassy sent tweets in
order to refute the rumors that the president of Madagaskar is hiding
at the embassy...

So if you consider opening the twitter account for your embassy, it is
worth checking what the americans are doing. They are definitely
leaders in this area, and they do it almost in every country. Their
twitter accounts could help you understand how to do yours. I am not
saying do exactly what they do. All I want to say is this: learn from
them and do better! Here are some examples from US embassies in

US Embassy in Vienna:

US Embassy in Geneva:

US Embassy in Warsaw:

US Embassy in Sweden:

US Embassy in Prague:

US Embassy in Oslo:

US Embassy in Italy:

There are many more, just look for them. American diplomats are
already on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Twitplomacy - Diplomacy 2.0 on Twitter : We need our Hashtag(s)!

Diplomats discover Twitter.

This is a fact. And I am not talking about the Ministers or Secretaries of State, like Clinton or Miliband. Because at the end of the day they are politicains, not diplomats.

No, I am talking about the career diplomats, who started their diplomatic work as attaches and second secretaries, for whom diplomacy is not just ground breaking speeches, cocktail parties and all other nice things associated with this profession.

These ordinary diplomats discover Twitter, and this is a worldwide movement. I know this for sure, after being introduced to the new social network of Diplomats: Diplodocus.
I was excited to see there diplomats who mentioned on their personal profiles their Twitter accounts. I immediately put them all on a new list on my Twitter account. I called it Twitplomacy. You are welcome to follow the tweeting diplomats and diplomatic missions with this list, I promise to update it. by the way I also crated a list for my colleagues in the Ministry: Israel Tweetplomacy

Now, I start to think about another way we, the diplomats, can find each other on twitter and discuss common issues. Why not to have hashtag (#) for diplomatic twittering?
Let's start with #twitplomacy. What do you think?

Monday, June 7, 2010

The central message of Season 8 of "24": There is no peace without justice

Usually I don't watch series. In fact, "24" is the only series I follow from the first season. And not just follow, but became kind of fan. I was trying to find an explanation for this. Yes, I love action, I like movies dealing with politics, diplomacy, international relations. However, all these things you can find in other series or movies. What is particularly good about the "24", and what attracts me the most, is that it always reflects real-life crisis situations and dilemmas. Sometimes, the international background of "24" is not just a reflection, but projection of the real-life tendencies. Of course, like in any movie, many details are exaggerated, stretched and unrealistic. However, this parallel reality of the movie resembles, at times too closely, the reality we live.

Look for the 8th season of "24". The general background (for those who didn't see it) is set during the final phase of peace negotiations between the US President Ms. Allison Taylor and the President Omar Hassan of the fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan, a moslem country with nuclear ambitions and program. Sounds familiar to you?

The two sides are close to reach the peace agreement that will put an end to the hostilities and wars. However, the situation gets out of control when islamic terrorist from Kamistan kidnap their own President who is perceived by them as a traitor and finally execute by them. Jack Bauer discovers that it was the Russian Government who stood behind this plot in order to thwart the peace process. President Taylor who is also aware of the Russian conspiracy, decides to proceed with the peace conference, joined by the Russians who are also happen to be the co-sponsors of the peace agreement, and have no choice to join it since the Omar Hassan's wife decides to step in and carry the legacy of her husband. However, Jack Bauer, true to his principles and values, continues to uncover the Russian conspiracy, against the decision of the US president who is willing to save the peace agreement.

In one of the most dramatic scenes President Taylor almost shouts to Jack: "But I want peace!", while his responds to it with the equally strong: "And I want justice".

So, what is the message of "24" and Jack Bauer? There is no peace without justice. Peace is important but not at all price. Peace has a value, but it's also a political interest. To achieve peace you have to make compromises, but do you have to betray your principles in order to achieve it? You can reach peace agreement based on lies and cover-ups, but it won't be a just peace. Justice is a value that transcends the interests, and there are no compromises there. You cannot compromise all your principles for peace. Sometimes you have to stand up to your principles. That what Jack Bauer did. That's where president Taylor failed.

She failed because she wanted peace at all price. In this blind pursuit for the peace agreement she betreayed her principles. She wanted engagement but ended up in sheer appeasement and cover-up. She showed weakness and she paid for it.

Is there any message for the present, real, US Administration? In the last two month the word "weakness" associated with the foreigh policies of President Obama were used too often. The most striking example for this tendency you can see in this opinion piece in Washington Post:

To sum up, engagement and peace are important things, both as values and national interests. However, they cannot be reached at all price - because there is a price to this.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Social media for diplomats - practical guide 2.0

About a year ago I wrote a post explaining basic guidelines on using social media by diplomats (here:
One year later, I would like to update some things and add others. After all, there is nothing like experience…
I will comment about three major tools: Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

So why Facebook?

1. More than 400 million users
2. The most significant users traffic, after Google
3. More than 60 languages
4. Popular in non-English speaking countries
5. Enormous potential for Public Diplomacy (at least today, because who knows what we’ll have in the future!)

Basic steps for working with Facebook

There are three Facebook page types for organizations: Fan page, Group or Cause. The fan page is most commonly used for organizations. It’s recommended to set up a personal page prior to opening the mission’s official fan page. Make yourself familiar with how Facebook works.
Choose a person who is effective communicator or writer. If s/he needs a training ask your HQ to provide it!
Define your risk plan: how you respond to negative comments and determine what is acceptable and what is not
Your page should be branded as official site, in order to differentiate between you and others appearing on your behalf.
Engage at appropriate times and respond quickly. Provide your updates on regular basis and often. Monitoring should be done on the daily basis. Any inappropriate postings should be removed immediately.
It’s recommended to include in the Info section the following statement: “This page is operated by the embassy of Israel in … Hate materials, obscenities, inappropriate photos will not be tolerated and person/s who published such materials will be blocked from this page”.
Security: discuss with the security officer different aspects of physical security and information security.

How to promote your Facebook page

Manage the page in the language of your country – there could be exceptions, but this is the general rule. Update the page at least 4-5 times a week. 3. Updates should be about the activity of your mission and related to your country of destination. It must be important to your local audience. You could update on general matters as well, but keep in mind the first part of this recommendation!
In all your documents include the FB address: official letters, email signatures of all the employees, visit cards. Promote your FB page through the bilateral Chambers of Commerce, Friendship Associations, and your expats communities organizations – they also use social media!
Create bloggers coalitions – they will spread the word better than anybody else. And you will need them for other things too! Check the most popular portals, blogs, or FB pages in your country of destination, learn about what they write and publish your comments with links to your FB page and/or website.

Twitter gets Twinfluence

In the last 12 months Twitter become very popular in the diplomatic community throughout the world. Many ministries of foreign affairs have their pages, many diplomatic missions did the same. However many diplomats that I know are still hesitant about opening it and using it. So first of all: Personal account is better than mission’s account. You should both, but remember that as a person you can reach much more followers and engage with them better in comparison to official profile of your mission.
Update daily, at least 3 times a day. In emergency/crisis situation update once every hour, and more…
Retweet posts, mention other twitterers and respond to messages. In emergency/crisis situation use Hashtags: #
Create lists in order to monitor information and use Tweetdeck to monitor what’s happening. During the Haiti humanitarian operation we used Twitter to get information about the open airports for rescue team landing.
And of course, publish links to video, photos or posts. Don’t forget to check your Twitter effectiveness with Twinfluence.

A few words about LinkedIn for diplomats

Open your personal account and describe your professional profile. Look at the groups that are of professional interest to you. Connect your Twitter account to LinkedIn.
As a year ago, my conclusion about LinkedIn is the same: diplomats should use it for personal and professional networking. I don’t think mission’s profile or ministry’s profile must appear on LinkedIn, at least not yet. I believe that economic and humanitarian cooperation could be done through LinkedIn groups, and diplomats can contribute to it a lot.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

OECD abd Mashav hold join workshop on Development Communication

Today I had an opportunity to talk to a group of Development Communication specialists from countries-members in OECD. We were talking about potential of social media in promoting the cause of Development goals and international aid awareness (read more about the agenda here: , something that is defined by some experts as Web2forDev (

No doubt Development 2.0 is gaining the moment. Participants from all the countries shared their experience with social media. It's true that the UK's representative, Julia Chandler from DFID, impressed al of us with the systematic and advanced approach towards integrating social media tools in the Development communication. However, the most important lesson for me was that all the participants speak the same "digital" language. May be because the average age in the group was closer to 30 than 50....

Here is my PP presentation at the seminar:

You can see also this interviews with Seminar's participant:

Friday, May 21, 2010

This is how we cause diplomats to go digital...

During the Digital Diplomacy training program we asked particpants to think how they can explain the idea of Digital Diplomacy to others. Look at one of the most successful videos from Youtube workshop. starring: Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, head of Interfaith Dialogue Department, and Jeremy Issasckarov, former Deputy Ambassador to Washington.

What is Gov 2.0? (A webcast presented by Tim O'Reilly)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Media sociaux - sauveur de la démocratie moderne?

A priori, cette expression peut apparaitre trop exagérée et pompeuse.

Est’ ce que c’est possible que la technologie devienne si importante pour le système politique et la société moderne en général ? Pour comprendre la connexion entre les media sociaux et le système démocratique regardons les caractéristiques principales des media sociaux. Tous les outils des media sociaux sont interactifs, ouverts et transparents pour tous. Tous les participants des media sociaux sont égaux et il n’y a pas de hiérarchie. Chaque internaute peut ajouter le contenu et réagir au contenu des autres participants.

D’un autre cote, les media sociaux deviennent les outils pour les gouvernements : les services publics peuvent être donnés sur internet. C’est la raison pour laquelle les gouvernements des pays démocratiques vont utiliser les media sociaux pour améliorer la participation civile dans les affaires publiques. Les pays qui ont peur de la participation civile, limitent l’accès a Internet et espèrent que ca les sauvera. Qui peut savoir ?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Indian diplomats can't work with social media

I must tell you, I was really upset when I read the following article in "Hindustan Times"! Diplomats and diplomacy should use the new way of communication. Necessary security measures must be taken, of course, but closing this channel comletely - it's too much!

"Indian diplomats now cannot open a Facebook account, use external e-mail services, or write blogs, thanks to new rules and much stricter firewalls aimed at preventing cyber attacks and leakage of classified information.

Over the past eight months, the Ministry of External Affairs has been overhauling its computer network security, putting up layers of barriers against intrusions into the network, officials associated with cyber security said."

Full article here:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Presentation on Diplomacy 2.0 at the Tel Aviv University

On April 13, Ilan Sztulman, deputy director of Public Diplomacy department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and myself gave a presentation and answered questions from the audience at the Tel Aviv University, at the event organized by Internet Research center of Netvision 013.
Thank you to Eli Hacohen who organized the event and to the participants for their interest and questions.

The People and Computers on-line newspaper published an article about the event (hebrew). Read here:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My presentation at Gov 2.0 O'Reilly on-line conference

On March 11, I took part in on-line conference organized by O'Reilly company. The goal of the conference was to feature Gov 2.0 projects and experiences in 4 countries: Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Israel, and also the social media work of US Peace Institute. I presented the Israel experience.

This kind of information exchange is important not onlu because we learn from each other, but also because we meet people around the globe who deal with the issues of Gov 2.0. So, contect is the king, but connection rules, as my good friend Alon Gilad likes to say.

The recording of the event is now available. To play it back, simply click on the link below. Please note that clicking on this link will launch the AdobeConnect Pro viewer. It may take a few moments to load. Once play back begins, you can navigate through the various presentations and search the chat room. The links in thepresentation are live.

You can also download all of our speakers' presentation slides at:

And the full chat transcript here:

Happy Passover to everybody!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Meeting with high school students

Last week I gave presentation about digital diplomacy to the group of high-school students, about 35 individuals.

And I must tell you this: high-school students are the best audience for this topic. Not diplomats, not branding specialist, not Web 2.0 evangelists. High-school students - because they don't have to believe in social media, they don't have to become social media professionals. They just live in social media.

Unlike other groups I meet with, I didn't asked them how many have Facebook page, because all of them have. I asked them what other networks they use and whether they use blogs. More than half of them use Myspace and Twitter, and others participate in diverse networks. It was interesting to see that only two of them write blogs.

Unlike other groups, including the diplomats from my ministry, the high-school students understand exactly the potential of digital diplomacy.

They are already in fact digital citizens. It's not a big deal for them to become digital diplomats.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Israeli diplomats go to "Better Place"

Last week I participated in the economic diplomacy training program organized for Israeli diplomats who go to their diplomatic postings this summer.

It's already become a cliche that economic diplomacy, like public diplomacy or country branding, has become one of the pillars of modern diplomacy. So the diplomats visit companies, meet with businessmen, hear lectures from heads of economic organizations, like Israel Bank, Export Institute and others.

However, when you come to an enterprise that is not just another company, but the one that dares to change the whole fabrics of modern society - you are not just learning something new. You get inspired.

This way we felt at the Demonstration Center of "Better Place", the company of the Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi, who developed the idea of 100% electric car. A car that will dramatically reduce oil-dependence, end air pollution, and will make the world quieter and ... a better place!

Here are some pictures from our visit there and what is especially important, the link to the company. Israel can become the first country in the world that will create national infrastructure for electric vehicles. We, as diplomats, understand well the importance of world where oil dependence is reduced...

Receiving driving permissions at the reception desk of Better Place

Instructor at Better Place explains about the electric vehicle, while loading it with energy

Better Place:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Government 2.0 must be fun

In the last days there was an interesting and really fascinationg discussion about the exact definition of Government 2.0, that took place on Govloop, social netwotk of american government (

I feel that with all our effort to rationalize the contribution of Gov 2.0 to citizens and to government itself, we might forget one important, and in my eyes central element of Web 2.0 - that it's fun! I think that all things based on Web 2.0, including Gov 2.0, are fun. After all, This is social media - and people come to Web 2.0 to communicate because it's fun. They also come to Web 2.0 for advice, information, service and so on - but they are attracted into it because it looks attractive, light and funny. The Gov 2.0, therefore, must include this element. It will attract more people to dialogue and interaction. Governments are perceived as very "serious" and "heavy", so the element of fun must be there as well.

May be the word "fun" looks too amateur and simplistic, but as a practitioner of Gov 2.0 in the last two years I believe it's one of the key elements for Gov 2.0 success.
After all, the work we make will be more interesting and productive - if it's fun.

The twitter of British Foreign Ministry dedicated for british citizens abroad could serve as a good example of what I say:


Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Diplomatic Cadet program - new Facebook page

Last week the Training Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened a new Cadet training program.

On the second day of the program the cadets opened a fan page on Facebook - another evidence that this generation of diplomats are digital natives.

In 7 days, they already have more than 300 fans, and say they are going to tell us about what they study, and also answer questions of those who are interested in a diplomatic career. They also promise to answer questions in English, French and Russian.

Visit here:!/pages/Jerusalem-Israel/Israeli-Diplomatic-Cadet-Course-2010-qwrs-wrym-mzwr-k/10150096924860381?ref=nf

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gov 2.0 International: Global Innovation Meeting Local Challenges

At this Gov 2.0 Online Conference, you'll hear about open government efforts in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Israel. The speakers will share stories and lessons learned, and answer your questions.

I was invited by the organizers to present the Israeli experience in Gov 2.o.

I invite everybody to join the conference - register now:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Government social networks - comparative analysis

In the last two years we've seen an uprecedented growth of Gov2.0. One of the most vivid expressions of the collaboration and sharing by governments through the tools of Web 2.0 were social networks of government employees and communities. I am talking about special type of government network that are open for all Internet-users, and in principle, anyone who is interested in Government 2.0 can join these networks.

Today there are 3 networks of the national governments:
American government community Govloop,

Australian public servants and community OZloop,

and Israel public sector social network Ovdeimedina.

Probably, there are more such networks, and if you happen to know them, let me know. But in this post I will relate only to the above-mentioned networks.


It was the first soical network of any national government. It was created in 2008, and since then succeded to become a real phenomenon of Gov2.0 in the US and abroad. It created a lot of excitement in the web 2.0 community, and served as an inspiration for other such networks.

Today there are more than 24.000 members in Govloop and 670 different groups. The groups represented on this network are agency or interest-based. The biggest and the most active group is "Government 2.0 Club", with more than 1300 members. Among other active groups with membership of 400 members and more are: Communication Best Practices, Acquisition 2.0, Twitterati, Knowledge Management in Government and many others. Agency-based groups are in general less active, and among the leading groups are State Department, Homeland Security and Department of Defense.

Another interesting thing about Govloop, is that it encouraged government employees from other countries to open national groups on the network. That's why we have there Government 2.0 Australian, Govloop Canada, Brazilian Government 2.0, Government of Israel 2.0 groups.

Govloop is based on Ning platform like other two networks I discuss.


Australian public servants social network was created on August 2009. It has 140 members and 17 groups. The most active group is Australian Public Service with 20 members. The territory based groups are still to be expanded.


Israel Public Sector social network, was created also in August 201o. It has very decent membership numbers - 127 people, and 12 groups. The most active groups are agency based: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel Police. Another active group is dealing with Public Diplomacy.

Network creators - great minds think alike...

Govloop was created by Steve Ressler who worked for the US Department of Homeland Security. OZloop was created by Steve Davies from the Australian Taxation Office. I created Israeli network with my good friend Alex Gafni from Israel Police.

When I discovered the Australian network, I was surprised to see that it was created at the same time as Israel's... So may be not all of us are great minds, but Gov2.0 is definitely in the air!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Training Departments as pioneers of Gov2.0

From my experience in the Training department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the last two years, I learned that Training Departments could become agents of change regarding Gov2.0 revolution. They can literally push the organizations towards the adoption of the Web 2.0 tools, even without the high-level desicion on such policies. This adoption will have its limits. However, the input of the Training Departments can comletely change the dynamic of the pace of Gov 2.0 within the Government.

So, why the Training Department can bring about this change? First, the role of training in modern organizations, government or private sector, is widely acknowledged. In today's world of beta state, of on-going transformation and renewal, training also became beta-state. The technologies change, so does the working environment, and if we want to be up to all these challenges - we should train, all the time.

Our first step was to open a new course "Digital Diplomacy in the age of Social Media". The course was open to all the employees of the Ministry, kind of enriching training program. Because social networks and blogs are very popular toplics these days, the registration for the course was much over the expectations. We've opened the course with more than 30 people - twice the number we planned originally.

It was important to make the course as interesting and impressive as possible (you can see the program of the course here: Another goal of the program was to highlight the potential of Web 2.0 for diplomatic work. And last, not least, we wanted to encourage discussion among the participants about the best ways for adoption the web 2.0 in the ministry.

Did it work? The course ended on January 26. On February 1 we already started another program - for the Media Department of the Ministry. On February 25 we'll organize the social media workshop for the Center of International Cooperation of the Ministry. We are scheduling the same program for the European Department. And many other employees asked to put their names on the waiting list for the next program.

In addition to the training programs, we also suggested our involvement in different recruitment projects. For example, we helped the Legal Department of the Ministry to recruit candidates through the social networks. Our purpose was to show how web 2.0 can be a useful tool in different areas of Ministry's work. You can read about this experience in a previous post.
We also proposed our program as a model for Training Departments in other ministries.

However, this dynamic has its limits. Our training program focuses on two topics: why Gov2.0 is so important and how we can use tools of social media. With all due respect to "How", it's also important to teach and train about the "what". Defining the "whats" of any organization belongs to the hegh-level management. Therefore, in order to successfully and fully adopt Gov 2.0 in any organization, there must be an executive decision. But this decision is more plausible after some of the high-ranking officials participated in the training programs...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MASHAV 2.0 - Israel Center for International Cooperation goes digital

Israel Center for International Cooperation (MASHAV, acronym in Hebrew) is a division in Israel's Foreign Ministry, and functions as a national Foreign Aid Agency. Since its creation in 1958, MASHAV has trained about 250,000 people from 140 countries, in Israel and in developing countries, providing training in a variety of areas, including agriculture, public health and medical programs, community development, integrated rural regional development and other areas.

Therefore, it was only natural for international agency like MASHAV to open up for social media. A year ago MASHAV created a fan page on Facebook - and it was the first fan page by the Israel's Foreign Ministry. Today MASHAV has more than 700 fans on facebook, but the number is less important than the profile of the fans. Many of them are people all around the world who participated in the Training Programs of MASHAV, and now they can keep in touch and be updated about the new programs, or raise ideas for new cooperation projects.

Another important achievement of this fan page was that it allowed for people who never visited Israel to learn about its experience in various areas of development. Among the fans of MASHAV we even have people from Moslem countries that don't have dplomatic ties with Israel. For the nation of Israel, who strives for recognition and good relationship with the Moslem world, this is in itself a significamt step.

You can visit Facebook page of MASHAV:

Encouraged by the success of their Facebook page, Mashav expanded its interaction thfough the social media and opened Twitter account:

The account was opened four months ago. Indeed, MASHAV has only 40 people following it, but... once again, the number is not everything. Look who are among MASHAV's twitter followers: UN, UNDP, OECD, FAO, USAID, ClintonNews, to name a few. With followers like these you can feel connected to the world...

Today Mashav has also its official blog:,
Flickr:, and they feel its only a beginning of the digital journey...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How Governments should recruit new employees?

The answer is simple - through the Social Web.

Look what happened two weeks ago:

Our Ministry's Legal department published on the official website of the Ministry and on the site of Civil Service Commision an announcement about open tender for recrtuiting lawyers.

They had only 2 weeks deadline, and no option for newspaper ad. I suggested to publish the tender through social media, and they Oked. They had no choice...

Then it was just a matter of two hours effort. With the help of two of my colleagues who are, like me, fans of Web 2.0, we put the announcement on the forums and groups run by lawyers for lawyers - on Cafe the Marker, Nana 10, Tapuz, groups on facebook and LinkedIn. What took more time, were some groups that required approval for joining. But after the approval that took 3-4 days, the information was placed there as well.

In 10 days since we started this "web 2.0 recruitment campaign", we had hundreds of applicants, and were over-flooded with the phone calls and faxes.

Some Insights:

1. In order to make it fast, organizations must have a presence in the social media. The more networks you have - the better. It doesn't mean that an organization should open their pages/profiles on all networks, but it should encourage its employees to do that.

2. The power of the social networks is not just in the big numbers - but also in small groups. Because we were able to focus our outreach, we targeted specific group, and received only applications that were relevant.

3. The whole operation cost was zero.

4. The response of the applicants was immediate.

5. We posted the announcement on the social network pages of groups or organizations, for example Israel Bar Association on Linked-In. Organizations that don't have social media presence are loosing potential clients that need quick answers in no time. For the same reasons organizations that require approval before allowing to post on their pages, must approve quickly, otherwise they also become irrelevant.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Social Media training program - January Update

The training program "Diplomacy in the age of Social Media", organized by the Training Department of the Israel MFA, started on November 2009, and we have only 2 meetings ahead of us. It's clear already now: the program was a real success. And we could measure it not only by the participants improved skills in using Social Media.

More than anything else, what we achieved in the course was the awareness of the participants, coming mainly from the generation of baby-boomers, to the need of going digital. Digital diplomats is not anymore a sci-fi for them, but something that could be done not in a life-time - 40 academic hours are quite enough!

Since many participants are experienced diplomats, and some of them are in senior positions in the Ministry, the whole idea of Diplomacy 2.0 and Government 2.0 now has more supporters. The bottom-up movement of Diplomacy 2.0 initiative will win gradually more supporters on all the levels, and the transformation will come inevitably. This is how we, evangelists of Social Media in government, should work.

See some pictures in the slideshow (below), taken on January 12, featuring the Youtube worksop and the presentation of Steve Ressler, founder of Govloop (US Government social network) who joined us through video-conference from Florida. He actually already wrote post about the video-conference:

The program of our course could be reached here:

We could and should go digital - it's easy and fun!