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.
This is a preview of subscription content,to check access.
Access this article
The term ‘Hamas’ Propaganda’ was used by the heads of the Israel Under Fire initiative, and reflects their views on the messages they were trying to promote.
AFP. (2012) Russia condemns ‘disproportionate’ strikes on Gaza. The Daily Star. 15 November 2012, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Nov-15/195155-russia-condemns-disproportionate-strikes-on-gaza.ashx#axzz2CJLCPknc.
Alexa Top 500 Global Sites. (2015) Retrieved from http://www.alexa.com/topsites.
Aouragh, M. (2016) Hasbara 2.0: Israel’s public diplomacy in the digital age. Middle East Critique: 1–27.
Avraham, E. (2015) Destination image repair during crisis: Attracting tourism during the Arab Spring uprisings. Tourism Management 47: 224–232.
Avraham, E. and Ketter, E. (2008) Media Strategies for Marketing Places in Crisis: Improving the Image of Cities, Countries and Tourist Destinations. Burlington, MA: Routledge
Archetti, C. (2012) The impact of new media on diplomatic practice: An evolutionary model of change. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 7(2): 184.
Ayalon, A., Popovich, E. and Yarchi, M. (2016). From Warfare to Imagefare: How states should manage asymmetric conflicts with extensive media coverage. Terrorism & Political violence 28(2): 254–273.
Bátora Jr, J. and Neumann, I. (2002) Cautious surfers: The Norwegian Ministry of foreign affairs negotiates the wave of the information age. Diplomacy and Statecraft 13(3): 23–56.
Beaty, A. (2003) Poll controversy as Israel and US labelled biggest threats to World peace. Eurobserver, 30 October, https://euobserver.com/foreign/13324.
Blondheim, M. and Shifman, L. (2009) What officials say, what media show, and what publics get: Gaza, January 2009. The Communication Review 12(3): 205–214.
Benoit, W.L. (2000) Another visit to the theory of image restoration strategies. Communication Quarterly 48(1): 40–43.
Benoit, W.L. (2015) Accounts, Excuses, and Apologies: A Theory of Image Restoration Strategies. New York, NY: State University of New York Press.
Burns, J.P. and Bruner, M.S. (2000) Revisiting the theory of image restoration strategies. Communication Quarterly 48(1): 27–39.
Business Wire. (2006) Anholt Nation Brands Index: Global survey confirms Israel is the worst brand in the world. 21 November, http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20061121005222/en/Anholt-Nation-Brands-Index-Global-Survey-Confirms#.Ve7XYhGqpBd.
Coombs, W.T. (2014) Ongoing Crisis Communication: Planning, Managing, and Responding. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.
Cowan, G. and Arsenault, A. (2008) Moving from monologue to dialogue to collaboration: The three layers of public diplomacy. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616(1): 10–30.
Cull, N.J. (2013) The long road to public diplomacy 2.0: The Internet in US public diplomacy. International Studies Review 15(1): 123–139.
Di Caro, G. (2012) D(e-)plomacy: Do social networks really contribute to the transparency of diplomacy? Equilibri 16(3): 481–484.
Frederick, H.H. (1993) Global Communication and International Relations. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Gibson, M. (2014) Top 10 hashtags that started a conversation. Time, 2 December.
Gilboa, E. (2006) Public diplomacy: The missing component in Israel’s foreign policy. Israel Affairs 12(4): 715–47.
Gilboa, E. (2008). Searching for a theory of public diplomacy. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616(1): 55–77.
Gilboa, E. and Shai, N. (2011) Rebuilding public diplomacy: The case of Israel. In A. Fisher, and S. Lucas (eds.), Trails of Engagement: The Future of US Public Diplomacy. Boston, MA: Brill, pp. 33–54.
Graffy, C. (2009) The rise of public diplomacy 2.0. The Journal of International Security Affairs 17, 23 November, http://www.securityaffairs.org/issues/2009/17/graffy.php
Guttman, S. (2005) The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Struggle for Media Supremacy. Michigan: Encounter Books, http://time.com/3591923/top-10-hashtags-that-started-a-conversation/
Hanson, F. (2012) The History of eDiplomacy at the U.S. Department of State, a Brookings Institute report. October 25, https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-history-of-ediplomacy-at-the-u-s-department-of-state/
Hayden, C. (2013) Engaging technologies: A comparative study of U.S. and Venezuelan strategies of influence and public diplomacy. International Journal of Communication 7: 1–25.
Jeffries, C.H., Hornsey, M.J., Sutton, R.M., Douglas, K.M. and Bain, P.G. (2012) The David and Goliath principle cultural, ideological, and attitudinal underpinnings of the normative protection of low-status groups from criticism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 38(8): 1053–1065.
Keinan, A., Avery, J. and Paharia, N. (2010) Capitalizing on the underdog effect. Harvard Business Review 88(11): 32–34.
Khatib, L., Dutton, W. and Thelwall, M. (2012) Public diplomacy 2.0: A case study of the US digital outreach team. The Middle East Journal 66(3): 453–472.
Kunczik, M. (1997). Images of Nations and International Public Relations. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Lau, R. R., Sigelman, L. and Brown-Rovner, I. (2007) The effects of negative political campaigns: A meta-analytic reassessment. Journal of Politics 69(4): 1176–1209.
Lau, R.R. and Brown-Rovner, I. (2009) Negative campaigning. Annual Review of Political Science 12: 285–306.
Lazaroff, T. (2012) Ashton, Merkel say Israel has right to defend itself. The Jerusalem Post, November 16, http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Ashton-Merkel-say-Israel-has-right-to-defend-itself
Lemelshtrich-Latar, N. (2014) The legitimacy of Israel – Can nation branding affect change? Lecture presented at the Herzliya Conference, June 11, Herzliya, Israel, http://www.herzliyaconference.org/_Uploads/dbsAttachedFiles/LegitmacyofIsrael.pdf
Malhotra, A., Kubowicz Malhotra, C. and See, A. (2013) How to create brand engagement on Facebook. MIT Sloan Management Review 54(2): 1–4. Retrieved from http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/how-to-create-brand-engagement-on-facebook/
Malone, G.D. (1985). Managing public diplomacy. The Washington Quarterly 8(3): 199–213.
Manheim, J.B. (1994) Strategic public diplomacy and American foreign policy: The evolution of influence. New York: Oxford University Press.
Maziotta, A., Mummendey, A. and Wright, S.C. (2011) Vicarious intergroup contact effects: Applying social-cognitive theory to intergroup contact research. Group Processes Intergroup Relations 14(2): 255–274.
McCann, I.L. and Pearlman, L.A. (1990) Vicarious traumatization: A framework the psychological effects of working with victims. Journal of Traumatic Stress 3(1): 131–149.
Melissen, J. (2005) The new public diplomacy: Between theory and practice. In J. Melissen (ed.) The New Public Diplomacy, (pp. 3–27). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Neureiter, M. (2012) Sources of media bias in coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The 2010 Gaza flotilla raid in German, British, and U.S. newspapers. Masters Theses. Paper 1051, http://thekeep.eiu.edu/theses/1051
Nye, J.S. (2008) Public diplomacy and soft power. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616(1): 94–109.
Nye, J.S., Jr. and Owens, W.A. (1996) America’s information edge. Foreign Affairs 75(2): 20–36.
Oberschall, A. (2015) The 2014 Gaza War and the elusive peace in Palestine. Cornivus Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 5(2): 115–130.
Peterson, P.G. (2002) Public diplomacy and the war on terrorism. Foreign Affairs, http://www.cfr.org/terrorism/public-diplomacy-war-terrorism/p4762
Powers, S. and Samuel-Azran, T. (2015) A microeconomic approach to international broadcasting. The Journal of International Communication 21(1): 58–77.
Prusher, I. (2014) Israel and Palestinians reach open-ended cease-fire deal. TIME, August 26, http://time.com/3182848/israel-gaza-ceasefire-abbas-netanyahu/
Ross, A. (2011) Digital diplomacy and U.S. foreign policy. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 6(3–4): 451–455.
Samuel-Azran, T. (2010) Al-Jazeera and US war coverage. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
Samuel-Azran, T. (2016) Intercultural Communication as a Clash of Civilizations. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
Schloss, K.B. and Palmer, S.E. (2014) The politics of color: Preferences for Republican red versus Democratic blue. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 21(6): 1481–1488.
Shamir, E. (2012) Operation pillar of defense: An initial strategic and military assessment. Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies Perspectives Paper no. 189, December 4.
Shenhav, S.R., Sheafer, T. and Gabay, I. (2010) Incoherent narrator: Israeli public diplomacy during the disengagement and the elections in the Palestinian Authority. Israel Studies 15(3): 143–162.
Simon, H.A. (1954) Bandwagon and underdog effects and the possibility of election predictions. Public Opinion Quarterly 18(3): 245–253.
Stocker, K.P. (1997) A strategic approach to crisis management. In: C.L. Caywood (ed.). The Handbook of Strategic Public Relations and Integrated Communications, (pp. 189–203). Boston: McGraw Hill.
Thussu, D. K. (2000) International Communication: Continuity and Change. London: Arnold.
van Evera, S.V. (2006) Assessing US strategy in the war on terror. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 607(1): 10–26.
Wang, J. (2006) Managing national reputation and international relations in the global era: Public diplomacy revisited. Public Relations Review 32: 91–96.
Wolfsfeld, G. (1997) Media and Political Conflict: News from the Middle East. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Yarchi, M. (2014) ‘Badtime’ stories: The frames of terror promoted by political actors. Democracy & Security 10(1): 22–51.
Yarchi, M. (2016a) Terror organizations’ uses of public diplomacy: Limited versus total conflicts. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 39(12): 1071–1083.
Yarchi, M. (2016b) Does using ‘imagefare’ as a state’s strategy in asymmetric conflicts improve its foreign media coverage? The case of Israel. Media, War & Conflict 9(3): 290–305.
Yarchi, M., Wolfsfeld, G., Sheafer, T. and Shenhav, S.R. (2013) Promoting stories about terrorism to the international news media: A study of public diplomacy. Media, War & Conflict 6(3): 263–278.
About this article
Cite this article
Yarchi, M., Samuel-Azran, T. & Bar-David, L. Facebook users’ engagement with Israel’s public diplomacy messages during the 2012 and 2014 military operations in Gaza. Place Brand Public Dipl 13, 360–375 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41254-017-0058-6