Facebook users’ engagement with Israel’s public diplomacy messages during the 2012 and 2014 military operations in Gaza
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In an attempt to broaden our understanding on current uses of public diplomacy tools and their effectiveness, the study focuses on an Israeli citizens’ initiative (Israel Under Fire) that promoted messages via social media in the two recent rounds of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict (2012, 2014). The study examines the message strategies used by the initiative in their English Facebook page (N = 926 posts), and the users’ engagement they generated. Four message strategies were identified: (1) Israel has the Right to Defend Itself; (2) “What Would YOU Do (if you were in the same situation)?”; (3) Exposing Hamas’ Propaganda; and (4) Free Gaza from Hamas. The analysis revealed that the “What would YOU do?” strategy generated significantly greater audience engagement compared to the other message strategies. The study indicates that countries such as Israel, which suffer from a Goliath image problem, may benefit more from messages that encourage online audiences to engage in perspective taking and to think about the conflict vicariously than from messages that refer directly to the positions of the conflicting sides.
Keywordscivic public diplomacy digital diplomacy Israeli–Palestinian conflict facebook engagement
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