The Foreign Ministry launched a new Facebook page to create understanding and dialogue with Iraqi citizens.
The page, called Israel in Iraqi Dialect, will serve as a kind of "digital embassy". The new page focuses on content related to the Iraqi audience, such as captivating stories about the large Jewish community that lived in the country and continues to thrive in Israel, or points of similarity between Israeli and Iraqi culture, as well as presenting Israel's achievements and diversity to the Iraqis.
Foreign Ministry Director Yuval Rotem explained "the digital embassy is intended to provide an answer to the growing interest that the Arab world is showing in Israel. Social networks allow us to reach this audience - our neighbors - and present the true face of Israel, in a way that wasn't possible before. We chose to start in Iraq in light of the glorious history of Iraqi Jews in Israel, and the great interest that the local population has shown in Israel, especially in recent years.
"We saw this through sympathetic responses responding to our posts in the social networks from Baghdad and across Iraq. We believe the digital embassy will promote a productive and positive dialogue and lead to deeper acquaintance between Israelis and Iraqis from all walks of Iraqi society - Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and other population groups," Rotem added.
Yonatan Gonen, head of the Arabic branch in the Department of Digital Diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry - the branch responsible for operating the Ministry's social networking pages in Arabic - adds that "opening the page is the result of a dynamic dialogue we've been conducting for a long time with the Iraqi population on the pages we operate. In 2017, the content we published on our pages gained 50 million views from Iraq alone. Many surfers from Iraq express interest in a dialogue with Israel, they write Israel's a fait accompli, and wish to establish relations between the two countries."
A major reason for growing sympathy for Israel among the Iraqi population is a growing sense of nostalgia for the Jewish community that contributed to the development of modern Iraq and was forced to leave the country. "The Jewish community based in Iraq and now living in Israel is a human bridge between the two countries," said Linda Menuchin Abdel Aziz, an Iraq native who has been serving as an advisor to Arabic digital media for years. "There's no doubt we're witnessing an earthquake in Iraqi public opinion compared to the period when I lived in Iraq during the Ba'ath regime, in which the Jews suffered from hostile treatment and harassment," she adds.