Come September, in just three months, the State of Israel is likely to find itself facing a diplomatic onslaught of a totally new kind. If one believes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, that month the representatives of the world’s nations at the United Nations will be discussing whether to recognize Palestine as a state, as a unilateral step without negotiations with Israel.
U.S. President Barack Obama made that scenario all the more likely with his speech to the world supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. Whether Israel is about to encounter a totally new reality or whether it’s just another milestone in the political process that changes nothing, the international and local press are following the issue keenly.
The closer the date of the unilateral declaration approaches, the more the denizens of Internet are coming to life, promoting their opinions with ever-accelerating urgency. Their battle zone is the social media. You can see it in the Facebook statuses – for and against, in Twitter messages and in protest video clips on YouTube. The nearer September approaches, and with it the UN debate, the more this online activity is likely to escalate. But don’t think the State of Israel is leaving the battlefield to the amateurs.
“We are intensively preparing ahead of September,” says Chaim Shacham, head of the information and Internet department at the Foreign Ministry. Think of him as the Israeli government’s tweeter.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor adds: “We all expect something to happen in September. We don’t know what yet, but clearly there’s going to be some sort of diplomatic development. We have our finger on the pulse in terms of the social media too.”
Preparation involves constantly monitoring the blogs, tweets and insofar as possible, Facebook entries too, though many posts are closed to the general public (available only to specific “friends” ) and cannot be monitored.
No wonder this is happening more and more these days:
[Scotland’s] First Minister Alex Salmond supported economic sanctions against Israel. He described Israel’s massacre of nine Mavi Marmara passengers as an “atrocity on the high seas” and put Israel firmly beyond the pale. “This has implications for example in trading relationships—you can’t have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in.”