The Public Diplomat a dialogue about public diplomacy Thu, 22 Sep 2016 12:11:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Academic Speech, BDS, and Antisemitism on College Campuses Thu, 22 Sep 2016 02:16:40 +0000 In a recent Washington Post article entitled In the safe spaces on campus, no Jews allowed, Anthony Berteaux argued that unlike most others, Jewish students are subjected to a litmus test on their stance on Israel when asking to join on campus social justice causes.
The relationship between campus progressive politics and Anti-Israel rhetoric has reached the point of the absurd on such campuses as The University of California in Berkeley where a student waving an Israeli flag was taunted by students, while later completely ignored when waving an ISIS Flag. On the same campus, a one credit course named “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis” will be offered despite a wide outcry over its one sided, antisemitic content.

The current podcast features an interview with Professor Miriam Elman, an associate professor of Political Science in Syracuse University’s acclaimed The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The conversation will cover the impact of the BDS movement on American universities, its professors, students, and the academic community as a whole.
Miriam Elman is serves as a research director in its Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC). She frequently writes and speaks on BDS, and blogs on the topic for the website Legal Insurrection.
Her latest Op-Ed The Pressure on American Academics to Conform to BDS was recently published in Haaretz read more:

Follow her on Twitter @MiriamElman

The Secret to Successful Place & Nation Branding Wed, 07 Sep 2016 14:00:37 +0000 There is much confusion regarding the differences between nation branding, place branding, reputation management, and public diplomacy. In this episode, we try to clear the confusion by interviewing Robert Govers. Dr.Govers is the managing research partner of, chairman of the International Place Branding Association and an independent advisor, researcher, speaker and author on the reputation of cities, regions and countries. He has also been an adjunct or visiting scholar at the University of Leuven, Belgium; Rotterdam School of Management, The Netherlands; IULM University Milano, Italy; and several institutes in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He also teaches Place Branding on the UNESCO World Heritage at Work Master programme in Torino, Italy and is co-editor of the quarterly journal, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy.
Together with Prof. Dr. Frank Go, Robert is the author of: Place Branding (2009) and editor of the International Place Branding Yearbook Series (2010, 2011 and 2012) all with Palgrave Macmillan. He also co-authored over fifty journal articles, book chapters and conference papers and has delivered numerous public speeches and business publications.

Robert typically advises in areas such as economic competitiveness, place identity and image, tourism policy and strategy, educational policy, tourism and investment promotion, and major international events. This is approached from a strategic reputation management perspective referred to as competitive identity, which is based on the premise that places build reputation through substance and symbolic actions, as opposed to logos, slogans and advertising.

In the past, Robert has held positions in South Africa, The Netherlands, Belgium and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He has been involved in many consultancy projects and advisory boards for reputable organisations such as the International Air Transport Association, the European Commission, the Flemish Government and various ministries, tourism promotion boards and regional and city administrations.

Robert has both a doctoral (2005) and master’s degree (1995) from the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, The Netherlands. He is also a member of the jury for the Dutch City Marketing Innovation Award and the City Nation Place Awards.

Putting Nazi Weapons in Jewish Hands Thu, 02 Jun 2016 17:53:32 +0000

A popular PBS documentary, A Wing and a Prayer tells the little-known story of World War II aviators who risked their lives and American citizenships in 1948 to prevent what they viewed as an impending second Holocaust.

Written, directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker Boaz Dvir (Jessie’s Dad, Discovering Gloria), A Wing and a Prayer features firsthand accounts of daring escapes and heart-pounding action. Dvir, a Penn State University journalism and film faculty member, secured exclusive interviews with operation leader Al Schwimmer, chief pilot Sam Lewis and lead crew member Eddie Styrak, a Polish Christian, among others.

These tell-all interviews provide rich detail about a group of Jews and Christians who helped reshape history, yet have been forgotten by history books. Aiming to change that, Dvir has presented A Wing and a Prayer at prestigious venues around the world, including the Center for Jewish History in New York City, Columbia University’s Global Center in Paris and Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Here’s the trailer:

Follow Dvir (@boazdvir) on Twitter. To buy the film’s DVD, which includes the longer director’s cut as well as five bonus scenes, please call 1-800-222-9728. To invite Dvir to present A Wing and a Prayer, email him at

Girls Rights in Mexico Fri, 22 Jan 2016 10:31:57 +0000 Every year, young women in Mexico face a variety of challenges and threats ranging from bullying, early pregnancy, violence, and poverty. Rosa Fosfo is Mexico’s first NGO dedicated to girls rights. In this podcast the organization’s founder Schkolnik discusses the organization’s goals and programs that aim to empower young women and provide them with a better future.

Can the U.S. Counter ISIS on Social Media? Wed, 02 Dec 2015 01:44:00 +0000 Originally posted on author’s Huffington Post blog

The continued success of ISIS in using social media platforms for global recruitment has frustrated American officials. In an internal State Department memo published by the New York Timeslast month, undersecretary of public diplomacy Richard Stengel commented on the common perception amongst US allies who likened the terror organization’s global expansion to that of Starbucks franchises.

Led by the inter-agency Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), the Obama administration has taken the war on ISIS to social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube, where such initiatives as the Think Again Turn Away (@ThinkAgain_DOS) have emerged. This campaign aims to counter-radicalization and dissuade young Muslims from joining ISIS.
In a recent Op-Ed published in USA Today, Undersecretary Stengel offered his vision of “The right path to counter Daesh.” In this article, he announced the establishment of the Sawab Center in Abu Dhabi where American led efforts would foster and promote an alternative narrative to that of ISIS.

For nearly a decade, the American narrative regarding ISIS was based on a 9/11 war on terror worldview. Yet, such a perspective may be inconsistent with that of many Sunni Muslims who view the ISIS phenomenon as a reaction to the oppression of Sunnis and the expanding Shiite-Sunni civil war.

Two key limitations continuously undermine America’s online war of ideas with the terror organization. The first has to do with America’s message. The second has to do with the messenger itself.

As presented, America’s narrative to young Muslims presents ISIS is a brutal terror organization that hijacked Islam. It claims that its Middle East policies aim to fight terrorism and promote democracy and human rights.

Such a narrative may resonate with Western audiences but is disconnected from the post Arab-Spring geo-political realities of the region. For those who view the region in terms of a Sunni-Shiite conflict, America’s foreign policy consistently seems to favor the Shiite over their Sunni rivals.

After decades of exclusive rule and domination of Shiites, Iraq’s Sunnis were stripped of their power by the Bush administration’s experiment in democracy. While the Americans provided the oppressed Shiite equal vote, they did not provide the Sunnis with minority protections or a guarantee of rightful participation in the political process of post-war Iraq. The American supported Maliki government soon sided with Iran and disenfranchised and oppressed Iraq’s Sunni population.

Sunni frustration and distrust of the United States was further amplified by the Obama administration’s mumbled and inconsistent Syria policy that failed to prevent Assad’s slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Sunni civilians.

In the case of both Syria and Iraq, ISIS was the only force to achieve meaningful military victories over the Shiite rivals. These achievements are key to the organization’s global recruiting success as it positions the organization as a legitimate Sunni military power.

What many in the Obama administration fail to recognize is that American foreign policy seems to position the U.S. as an Iranian ally. Such perceptions are supported by the ongoing American-Iranian military cooperation in Iraq and by the nuclear deal that legitimized the Iran regime and its quest to become the regional superpower.

Based on America’s foreign policy in Iraq, Syria and Iran, the U.S. lacks credibility among a growing mainstream who view ISIS as a Sunni counterweight to Shiite regional hegemony.

As a general rule, public diplomacy campaigns both traditional and on social media can only be successful when their key claims and proposed values are consistent with the foreign policy.

Undersecretary Stengel and his team should be commended for their valiant effort. However, the utility of digital engagement is limited when not aligned with government strategy.

In order to successfully counter ISIS online recruitment, both the message and messenger should be of Sunni origin. It is the grassroots Sunni religious leadership not Western powers that can effectively articulate the threat that ISIS poses not only to people of the Middle East but also to Islam itself.

Twitter @GuyGolan

How Safaricom Helps Shape Kenya’s Nation Brand Wed, 26 Aug 2015 13:17:22 +0000 University of Iowa assistant professor Melissa Tully (Twitter @tullyme) and doctoral candidate David Tuwei (Twitter @david_tuwei) discuss their research on Kenyan mobile phone service provider, Safaricom and its role in shaping Kenya’s nation brand. Their study found that Safaricom’s marketing engages with discourses of commercial nationalism, creating a marketable Kenyan identity and culture tied to both national economic development and individual success. In addition, they found that Safaricom tied Kenyan identity, pride, and distinctiveness to commercial success, profit, upward mobility, and economic development. Click here to watch the Safaricom ads.

Japan’s JET Program Sun, 16 Aug 2015 15:30:41 +0000 Professor Emily Metzgar of Indiana University joins Professor Guy Golan of Syracuse University to discuss her research on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program) and its many implications towards Japanese public diplomacy. The podcast was recorded during the 2015 conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)in San Francisco. You can follow Dr. Metzgar on her Twitter account (@emilym123) and read more about her on her website.

The Real Cyber War- The Political Economy of Internet Freedom Fri, 14 Aug 2015 01:38:11 +0000 Professor Shawn Powers of Georgia State University discusses his new book The Real Cyber War: The Political Economy of Internet Freedom (coauthored by Michael Jablonski). As described on the publisher page, the book offers a “Contemporary discussion surrounding the role of the internet in society is dominated by words like: internet freedom, surveillance, cybersecurity, Edward Snowden and, most prolifically, cyber war. Behind the rhetoric of cyber war is an on-going state-centered battle for control of information resources. Shawn Powers and Michael Jablonski conceptualize this real cyber war as the utilization of digital networks for geopolitical purposes, including covert attacks against another state’s electronic systems, but also, and more importantly, the variety of ways the internet is used to further a state’s economic and military agendas.” You can read more about the book on Amazon and follow Dr. Powers on Twitter @shawnpowers and the official book website


Understanding Nation Branding & Public Diplomacy Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:32:03 +0000

Oklahoma State University’s Peggy Welch Chair in Integrated Marketing Communications Dr. Jami Fullerton discusses nation branding, it application, and relationship to public diplomacy. She explains her newly proposed Model of Country Concept.


Between Digital Diplomacy and Diplomacy 2.0 Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:03:25 +0000 Several weeks ago I was asked if there was a difference between the terms digital diplomacy and diplomacy 2.0 or if they are simply synonyms. At the time, my answer was that both terms relate, among other, to the incorporation of Social Networking Sites (SNS) in the activity foreign ministries (MFAs).

However, the more I explore the use of SNS by MFAs, the more I realize that the two terms may in fact be different. Defining digital diplomacy, and diplomacy 2.0, is important to both scholars and practitioners. MFAs must define digital diplomacy so that they may train diplomats, developed best practices and evaluate their digital diplomacy efficiency. For scholars, defining digital diplomacy may lead to a better understand of the relationship between the concepts of public diplomacy and nation branding.

Digital Diplomacy:

Over the past year I have dedicated much time and effort to characterizing the manner in which MFAs currently use SNS. My analysis has shown the following:

  1. Many MFAs use SNS in order to transmit information to their followers with regard to foreign policy events, issues, initiatives and actors (i.e., foreign countries)
  2. MFAs, embassies and foreign ministers are able to attract large audiences to their SNS profiles. These audiences are comprised mainly of international followers. Only a small segment of the local population follows its MFA online.
  3. Engagement between MFAs and their followers is almost non-existent. The vast majority of comments posted by MFA followers do not receive any attention from MFAs.
  4. When engagement does take place it is quarantined by MFAs. The US State Department, for instance, holds many Q&A sessions on Facebook. Such sessions take place at a pre-defined time and deal with one specific issue. SNS followers are not able to ask questions relating to other topics.
  5. MFAs and embassies routinely follow their peers on SNS in order to gather and disseminate information to the diplomatic community.  Diplomatic institutions, and figures, create vast online social networks. As such, digital diplomacy has become an important working tool for diplomats.
  6. MFAs use SNS in order to portray a certain national image. Thus, SNS is used in both public diplomacy and nation branding activities.

It is therefore fair to claim that MFAs have incorporated SNS in the conduct of diplomacy to the extent that it amplifies traditional public diplomacy and nation branding activities. By speaking at a global audience, rather than with a global audience, MFAs have yet to abandon the broadcast model of public diplomacy. When compared to the Voice of America radio station, The State Department’s twitter and Facebook channels represent an evolution in public diplomacy rather than a revolution.

We may therefore define digital diplomacy as the use of SNS by MFAs for gathering and disseminating information. Diplomacy 2.0, on the other hand, may be defined as the incorporation of the ethos of Web 2.0 in MFA online activity.

Diplomacy 2.0:

The evolution of the internet has often been described as a transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. Popularized by Tim O’Reilly in 2004, Web 2.0 websites are quite different from the static web pages of the late 1990’s. What characterizes web 2.0 is an “architecture of participation” in which website users are invited to contribute to web platforms. Moreover, Web 2.0 is also based on an “architecture of listening” in which feedback from users and “friends” is regarded as important and relevant information.

SNS may be the quintessential representative of Web 2.0 given that they cultivate a participatory psyche among users. When people add content to SNS they are often the authors or curators of such content. Given that such content is visible to all their online contacts, or “friends”, they become part of an online information community. Members of this community are expected to react to content shard by their “friends” be it by posting a comment or hitting the “like” “share” or “re-tweet” buttons. Thus, SNS also represent vibrant online communities.

MFAs have yet to adopt the Web 2.0 culture of dialogue, listening and participation. While MFAs offer their “friends” relevant and interesting content, and while “friends” may comment on such content, lack of two-way communication and emphasis on followers’ comments means that MFA social media channels are still characterized by a Web 1.0 architecture. It may also mean that MFAs are characterized by a Web 1.0 mentality.

The transition from digital diplomacy to Diplomacy 2.0 would see the incorporation of the following elements:

  1. Ongoing engagement between MFAs and their followers that is not limited in time and topic. Naturally, MFAs cannot engage with all their followers all the time. Nor are they expected to. Yet resources should be devoted to communicating with followers and creating vibrant online communities hosted on MFA SNS channels. MFAs should also routinely comment and “share” information posted by their folowers.
  2. The adoption of an architecture of listening among MFAs. This new architecture would view comments by followers as important information that relates to how a nation is vied by foreign publics. It may also be used by MFAs when outlining foreign policy initiatives. Such an architecture would signal a transition from the broadcast model to the dialogic model of public diplomacy.
  3. User generated content is seldom used by MFAs. When such content is used it is usually part of a photo contest on Instagram or Facebook such as” What does the UN mean to you?” Yet MFA followers may be called on to contribute to the development of MFA and embassy web sites, special web platforms and nation branding campaigns delivered via SNS.
  4. Crowd sourcing is another important element of Web 2.0 which is largely overlooked by MFAs. For instance, I have yet to find an MFA that posited the following question to its many followers: What do you expect to find on our channels? What kind of content would interest you? What would like to talk to us about?  Nations may also call on local populations to help outline foreign policy goals. Only Ambassador to the UN has used SNS in order to ask her followers- what issues would like to see the UN Security Council tackle this year? If web 2.0 is user centric, then Diplomacy 2.0 should be follower-centric.


Foreign ministries have only recently migrated to SNS. Given that MFAs are large organizations with firmly established working routines, it is fair to assume that the process of adapting to new technologies and mentalities will be a long and complex process.  Thus, integrating SNS in the conduct of diplomacy presents many challenges. However, it also presents many opportunities including the establishment of long lasting relationships with foreign publics. In a world marked by a decline in political awareness and interest, SNS based diplomacy may be also prove an innovative tool for increased political and civic engagement. These opportunities will only be realized when MFAs make the transition to a Web 2.0 mentality. Thus, it is possible that we should use the term digital diplomacy when referring to the current use of SNS by MFAs and the term Diplomacy 2.0 when referring to the potential of SNS use by MFAs.

A potential that has yet to be realized.