With content viewed more than 220 million times since the beginning of the year, Israel is using social media to change the way the Arab world perceives the Jewish state.
An Israeli video in Arabic, in which Israelis were asked which Arab country they would like to visit, has become a smash hit in the Arab world and has already received some five million exposures and three million views.
Israel’s Ynet news reported Monday that the clip was produced by Israel’s Foreign Ministry and filmed at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, and was published on the Foreign Ministry’s Facebook page in Arabic, which has about 1.6 million followers.
This page is the Foreign Ministry’s most closely monitored page, and its content has reached 150 million people in the Arabic-speaking world since the beginning of the year.
According to Facebook data cited in the report, the audience watching the video is mainly composed of men aged 25 to 34, most of them from Iraq, Egypt and Algeria. The video received about 16,000 likes and 7,000 responses from surfers in Arab countries.
Some of the respondents invited Israelis to visit their countries.
“Come to Jordan, we have Petra and many places of entertainment,” one responder wrote, while another stated “Ahalan Wasahlan [welcome in Arabic] for all who love Egypt.” “We welcome you in North Africa,” another wrote, while “Saudi Arabia is more beautiful than you thought,” declared another.
Others expressed their desire to visit Israel, while some claimed that Israelis were not welcome at all.
Yonatan Gonen, head of the Arabic branch of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Digital Diplomacy, said that “immediately after the video was published, we noticed that it was spreading like a wildfire in the social networks and the Arab media.”
“Beyond the Israelis who show an interest in neighboring cultures, the video is designed to show part of the human diversity in Israel, away from the stereotypes that are common in the Arab television networks – which hardly expose the Israeli public to the audience,” he explained.
The video was extensively covered by the media in the Arab world.
Direct Dialogue with Millions of Arabs and Iranians
Apart from its pages in Arabic, the Foreign Ministry also has active Persian pages on popular platforms used by Iranians. These pages have a total of hundreds of thousands of followers and the content published in the Persian language comes every week to more than two million readers.
In recent months, Israel’s Instagram page in Farsi has been gaining momentum. Instagram is one of the few platforms that are not yet blocked by Tehran.
In general, and as reflected in the thousands of responses from Iranian followers, Israel is not perceived by the Iranian people as an enemy. Many Iranians repeatedly emphasize on the pages that they do not hate Israel and are waiting for the day when ancient ties with the Jewish people and the Jewish state will be renewed.
Israeli photographers, whose images are published on the Persian Instagram page, receive messages of support and from Iranians emphasize their love for Israel.
On the Arabic language platforms, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accumulated some 220 million video views since the beginning of the year. The Facebook page in Arabic has 1.6 million followers and Twitter has about 170,000 followers.
Since the beginning of the year, there has been an 87 percent increase in the number of followers on Instagram and a 34 percent increase in the number of followers on Twitter. The number of YouTube viewers on the Foreign Ministry’s channel has doubled.