A new Facebook page organized and managed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry has garnered the most followers among all of the ministry’s pages in various languages. The page’s goal? Providing a Facebook page for Iraqi citizens – yes, as in Iraq that, for all intents and purposes, is still “formally” in a war with Israel.
This rather remarkable piece of news is courtesy of Yonatan Gonen, who’s the head of the Foreign Ministry’s Arabic branch. It was the decision of the digital diplomacy division of the ministry to create a special page dedicated to Iraqis, especially for Israelis who would want to know more information geared towards an Iraqi audience.
The page, named “Israel in the Iraqi Dialect,” has garnered more than 1.5-million views. Interestingly, aside from the positive response from Iraqis, a lot of the requests from the past few months have come from Iranians interested to find out more about the lives of Iraqi communities. Much more interesting is that a lot of the positive responses have also come from Persian Gulf countries, and even Morocco.
Negative impact towards the page have come from neighboring countries, which Gonen theorized might be due to the fact that Israel has been at war with them for years. As such negative attitudes may have been generated and rooted compared to countries that aren’t in Israel’s immediate borders.
Israel in the Iraqi Dialect
The Arabic page of the Ministry made its debut in 2011 in a bid to reach the Israeli populace through a medium that is not generally mainstream media. This “unique” medium may hopefully help present various issues and trends in a unique manner as well. Posts on the page focus generally on “softer” themes such as religion, technology, sports, culture, and the arts.
Its page explained that its purpose is to create a fruitful dialogue and communication between the Iraqi and Israeli peoples. Hopefully, this will develop into feelings of understanding, rapprochement, and friendliness that may show the true face of Israel.
In terms of statistics, the Arabic-language version of the page had more followers than the Ministry’s page in English and other languages. For instance, the Arabic-language page outpaced its English, Spanish, and Farsi counterparts.
Regardless, the new page for Iraq has been said to be a new “digital embassy” of sorts that seeks to focus on content geared towards the Iraqi audience. These may be stories about the Israeli community, or points of similarities between the two cultures.
While Gonen said the Ministry has yet to reveal if they have other plans for such specialized pages but for other countries, the decision will more or less be dependent on the reception people may have on the page.
Yuval Rotem, director general of Foreign Ministry, said the page would hopefully meet the growing interest of the Arab world towards Israel, which social media is now allowing them to achieve. Neighbors and the global audience can now see Israel in a light that has never been done before.
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