Israel is among the first countries in the world to launch an official online blog, after the Foreign Ministry introduced its Israel Video Blog last week.
The blog, which will serve as a sort of interactive television channel, will allow the Foreign Ministry to convey messages and air information about Israel while circumventing the foreign press, Itamar Eichner reported in Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
The new initiative is the result of efforts by the Israeli consulate in New York, which built the platform for sharing and distributing video at a relatively low cost. In early stages, officials at the consulate intend to present at least four videos a month that will show different and interesting aspects of Israeli life.
Foreign Ministry officials are inviting anyone in possession of a camcorder – and some creativity – to send in videos. Footage that is found to be appropriate will be uploaded to the site.
Consul for Media and Public Affairs in New York David Saranga says the video blog will allow the Foreign Ministry to use a sophisticated public relations mechanism and show "the real Israel" beyond the conflict.
At this time, the blog presents videos featuring, among other things, Tel Aviv's night life and the work of sculptress Orna Ben Ami, who is expected to travel to the U.S. In the future, the consulate plans to add interviews with Israeli authors and scientists, jeep treks in the Golan Heights, conversations with soldiers, and tours of restaurants and wineries.
The blog aims to draw relatively young Internet surfers aged 16-30, who according to studies undertaken by the Foreign Ministry constitute the most difficult target audience to reach. Those in the age group show almost no interest in Israel and are ignorant about developments in the country. Even those who do show an interest in the country tend to be very critical of Israeli policies.
According to Consul General Arieh Mekel, "in the public relations battle we can no longer make do with regular PR techniques. The time has come to utilize cutting-edge technologies in order to convey the Israeli message."