Jerusalem24 – Digital diplomacy has proven itself to be an effective tool in helping achieve diplomatic objectives.
Digital diplomacy can be considered the offspring of public diplomacy, Zaid Am-Ali, director of public discourse and communication program at MIFTAH, tells Jerusalem24. “Simply put it is conducting public diplomacy or traditional diplomacy using digital tools.”
Digital diplomacy became more relevant in 2008 when then-US president Barack Obama started his Twitter account, following which an increasing number of officials and politicians joined social media to conduct digital diplomacy.
Am-Ali, who previously worked as a digital diplomacy coordinator with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) adds that, in Palestine, 2018 was a turning point for Palestinian diplomacy in using the digital field. He adds that the PLO used digital diplomacy as a complementary tool to traditional diplomacy, and translate public diplomacy efforts into the digital sphere.
“This gives us the advantage to reach more policymakers, officials, but also the public which we were aiming to influence for the benefit of the Palestinian cause.”
Am-Ali stresses that Palestinian digital diplomacy is not in its best form now, “There’s so much potential, so much we could do with digital diplomacy nowadays, we’re a bit behind when we’re comparing our efforts with the Israeli efforts.”
“The Israelis are much ahead in digital diplomacy, in terms of academia, research, and practical implementation.”
Am-Ali believes that Palestine has the opportunities and potential to make use of to disseminate the Palestinian narrative and raise awareness of Palestine, and make more wins in the digital sphere.
What should Palestinian diplomacy do?
Am-Ali believes that for Palestinian diplomacy to eventually reach very productive digital diplomacy efforts, it needs to look at the root cause of the issue, and it should be following a merit-based recruitment process for diplomats.
Paying better attention to digital diplomacy and knowing how important it is, is also very important. “By developing the capacity of our diplomats in the digital sphere, they should be able to use digital tools.”
“We can bypass all the limited resources and geographical restrictions we face as Palestinians, so we don’t have to have physical embassies in each and every country.”
Digital diplomacy through non-state actors
MIFTAH conducts digital diplomacy through non-state actors.
“Now diplomacy and digital diplomacy are more open for non-governmental organizations, like MIFTAH, or even individuals, like when Mohammad Al-Kurd was calling on governments of the world to take action and stop the forced displacement of the people of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem,” Am Ali says.
At MIFTAH, a similar plan is being studied to implement. “We do meet with diplomats as MIFTAH to conduct these regular briefings, so the digital diplomacy component means that we follow up on this and complement these efforts.”
You can listen to the full interview on Wake Up Palestine