'Twitter Revolutionized Israeli Diplomacy'

Diplomat invited as representative of first diplomatic mission to use social network to spread message.

An Israeli envoy to the U.S. said on Tuesday that Twitter, the short messaging website, has revolutionized Israeli diplomacy and become a leading advocacy apparatus.

David Saranga, the Consul for Media and Public Affairs, said that in the past the diplomatic service had to wait until someone published an article presenting Israel's standpoint, whereas today, they use Twitter to spread Israel's message to thousands of followers at a fast pace.

Saranga spoke at New York's 140 Characters Conference, an online media convention organized by internet mogul Jeff Pulver. Among other participants in the two-day conference are Twitter founding president Jack Dorsey, TV presenter Ann Curry, musician Wyclef Jean and Business Week editor John Byrne.

The contents of Benjamin Netanyahu's long-awaited policy speech on Sunday, for example, was disseminated via the Israeli consulate's Twitter account in real time, and initiated a heated debate among its "followers."

Saranga was invited to the conference as the representative of the "first diplomatic mission to use Twitter" in order to address its messages to a wider audience as possible.

"I believe we're doing something right if we are invited to a strictly professional conference to explain how a state can utilize this revolutionary media outlet to spread its message," Saranga told Haaretz.

The Twitter page of the Israeli consulate was inaugurated last December, on the second day of Operation Cast Lead against Hamas rule in Gaza. The first message was an open invitation to a press conference in which Saranga promised to answer questions about Israel Defense Forces activities.

"In a few hours we had more than 5,000 participants around the world," he said.

The groundbreaking measure was commended by leading international newspapers like the New York Times, Le Figaro and The Guardian.