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The Schmooze

Bibi Gets Down With the Facebook Generation

He’s a leader, not a “follower.” His Twitter account says so.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a coordinated charm offensive on the Internet, creating his own accounts recently on the major social networking and media sharing websites. Since August, the 60-year-old Netanyahu has started his own pages on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, a form of public outreach he described as a boon to both democracy and Israel’s image overseas.

“Today, social media channels are more vital than ever for Israel’s public diplomacy efforts, for administrative transparency and for providing citizens with updated information,” Netanyahu said in a statement posted to his website.

Though still in their early days, the various Web pages have already attracted fans online, with more than 1,200 Facebook members indicating they “like” the prime minister’s profile. (As with his Twitter and Flickr pages, the account officially belongs the office of the prime minister, rather than to Netanyahu personally.) On Twitter, Netanyahu’s brief messages have attracted more than 600 subscribers — “followers,” in the site’s parlance — with Netanyahu yet to “follow” anyone else.

The new online accounts follow the June launch of Netanyahu’s YouTube page, which features speeches and interviews in Hebrew and English.

The prime minister’s Facebook and Twitter accounts feature posts in Arabic, as well as in Hebrew and English. Netanyahu’s inaugural post to his Facebook “Wall,” published September 5, was a message in Arabic expressing “hope that the Palestinian President Abu Mazen will continue in this way with me… to the common goal of peace, security and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

On September 7, Netanyahu posted his first YouTube Rosh Hashanah greeting, reviewing topics ranging from housing prices to foreign relations, and telling viewers in Hebrew, “I hope and believe this will be a year of new beginnings.”

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