Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Middle East Mayhem On Twitter?

Yesterday David Saranga, Consul for Media and Public Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, hosted a live press (well, really public) conference on Twitter to directly answer questions regarding the current situation in Israel and Gaza. From the press release:
"This is the first time that a government is holding such a conference on Twitter. "We are constantly getting questions from the public regarding the situation in Israel and Gaza," David Saranga, Consul for Media and Public Affairs, explains, "so we are answering the public's call and holding a Citizen Press Conference on the social networking site, Twitter, to answer these questions directly." Twitter users can take part in the Citizen "Press" Conference by going to and directing their messages to @israelconsulate and including the tag #AskIsrael. Questions will be answered on Twitter, with a link to IsraelPolitik if the answer exceeds Twitter's maximum length of 140 characters."

Hm, kind of heavy subject for Twitter--I mean, how can you adequately answer questions like "How do you justify the killing of children? How will that lead to peace?" or "When will you stop using the citizens of Sderot as human shields?"
in 140 characters?

You can check out a summary of all the questions and answers on and decide for yourself if it makes you just a wee bit uncomfortable. I'm still not sure how I feel about it--on one hand, Saranga's rationale--summed up in this tweet exchange:
"shelisrael: Why have you chosen to come on Twitter. Is that not political in itself?"
We saw debate on Twitter and saw people who had unreliable information. We felt Twitter would be a good way to put an official voice out there.

--makes sense; then again, if you ask me, the whole "How do you justify killing children?" 140-character exchange is a little bone-chilling.

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