Israel’s Foreign Ministry held a virtual meeting Tuesday with residents of Persian Gulf states, engaging them in a Twitter chat on the “official channel of the virtual Israeli embassy to GCC countries.”
Rafi Barak, the normally low-profile ministry director-general, held court, assisted by staffers translating queries and responses into Arabic. The conversation – held a day before the Muslim holiday of Eid el-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan – was hashtagged #EidTalk.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. Israel has no official ties with any of those countries. It fields one diplomatic representative in the Gulf, but declines to reveal his exact location.
Gulf nations and Israel have found their interests increasingly aligned as security in the region disintegrates, and as the sectarian conflict in Syria has put the Sunni world firmly at odds with Iran and its proxies.
The “virtual embassy,” as the ministry calls its Twitter account, was opened last month. It has already garnered nearly 1,200 followers.
The Jerusalem Post contextualized the virtual embassy as the latest social media platform the ministry has developed to advance dialogue with the Arab and Muslim worlds. Its Facebook page in Arabic has 264,000 “likes,” by far the most of any its foreign-language pages. English has 111,000 “likes,” Persian has 64,000, and Spanish 26,000. Hebrew, ironically, comes in at just over 10,000.
[Photo: IsraelArabic / Facebook]