Official "Israel" YouTube Channel Launched


(JPOST) First Facebook and Twitter, and now YouTube, are part of Israel’s initiatives in digital diplomacy.

The Foreign Ministry launched its official YouTube channel on Wednesday. The channel features nearly 130 videos about life in Israel. Until Wednesday, all of the Foreign Ministry’s videos were presented on the IsraelMFA page.

The launch of the Israel YouTube account comes a month after the Foreign Ministry paid a Spanish man $3,000 to release the rights to the @Israel Twitter page.

Chaim Shacham, the director of the Foreign Ministry’s information and Internet department, pushed the effort to obtain the Twitter and YouTube accounts, and he is now in talks with Facebook to take control of their Israel page.

“It is very important for us to secure our brand on those channels,” said Shacham, “and because of that we have tried to look for the best brand recognition possible, and that’s ‘Israel.’” The videos on the Israel YouTube channel will not deal with political topics, but rather focus on presenting life in Israel in a positive manner. The ministry has kept their IsraelMFA YouTube account in addition to the Israel channel, to place all the videos that deal with topical issues like the Gaza flotilla or peace talks with the Palestinians. They have made the same distinction between their @Israel and @IsraelMFA accounts on Twitter.

“We call these videos ‘Israel beyond politics;’ these videos have to do with Israel as an innovative nation – it can be hi-tech or medical advances or cultural issues,” Shacham said about the recently launched channel.

The Foreign Ministry has its own camera crew and production equipment to produce videos for YouTube, and they include links where viewers can download the videos to repost on their own websites.

While the new YouTube channel only had 327 subscribers by Wednesday evening, the Israel Twitter account had 8,683 followers and 23,460 people had “liked” the Israel page on Facebook.

Shacham did not say who previously had the rights to the Israel channel on YouTube, and he would not discuss if they paid for these as they had done for the Twitter account.

The ministry’s emergence onto social media began about a year and a half ago when it opened accounts under the name IsraelMFA on the three social media sites.

“Engagement is very important in social media, and that is what social media affords us that we don’t have on regular websites,” Shacham said. “So if we see a discussion is taking place and they need some input from the Israeli perspective, that’s when we join in.”

The remaining challenge for Shacham is to regain control of the Israel Facebook page, which he says Facebook froze due to issues with representing a country with a fan page. Facebook hadn’t responded by press time.

The channel can be viewed at YouTube.com/Israel.



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