Kristine L Ming

Digital diplomacy conference opens in Tel Aviv

Tweeting diplomatic messages and using Facebook as a communications tool during crisis situations are among the topics being discussed in Tel Aviv at a two-day first-of-its-kind conference on digital diplomacy.

The conference, which opened Wednesday, is jointly hosted by the Foreign Ministry and the Partner Institute for Internet Studies at Tel Aviv University.

It is bringing together some 50 diplomats and scholars from 25 countries to look at how states are using digital platforms as a diplomatic tool.

The conference is dealing with a number of issues that are arising as a result of the use of social media by foreign ministries around the world, including the need to train diplomats in social media engagement, ways to evaluate the impact, and the intersect between digital diplomacy, public diplomacy and nation branding.

Noam Katz, head of the ministry’s public diplomacy division, is scheduled to deliver a talk Thursday on how Israel engages with the Arab world through social media.

According to the ministry, governments are increasingly using social media as a diplomatic tool, with some 400 heads of states and governments active on Twitter.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alon Lavi said that the ministry sees digital diplomacy as an important diplomatic tool, “certainly in light of the challenges we face.” He said that Israel is able through social media to expose many people to its messages whom Jerusalem would otherwise be unable to reach.

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