Twitter Diplomacy? New Iranian Officials Use Twitter To Make Surprising Moves To Cool Tensions Over Israel And Nukes

from the kind-of-amazing-when-you-think-about-it dept

Here's a fairly incredible story. The Iranian government is quite well known for stifling dissent and trying to limit the internet. However, we noted recently that the new President of Iran had made some surprisingly progressive statements about ending internet censorship and filtering, and supporting human rights. Obviously, it's easy to say things, while actually doing things is quite different. Even so, it's still surprising to see two recent tweets out of the Iranian government that suggest that perhaps they're really looking to ease certain tensions and move towards more peaceful relationships. The Back Channel blog has the details of the two key tweets, starting with surprising tweets from both the new President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wishing Jews a Happy Rosh Hashanah.

As you probably know, Iran doesn't exactly have the best reputation with Jews, and its former President regularly threatened to go to war with Israel. Knowing a few Persian Jews who fled that country years ago, even any suggestion of a conciliation towards Jews is a stunning point. And, it went even further. Nancy Pelosi's daughter, Christine Pelosi, responded to Zarif's tweet, stating that it would be better if Iran stopped denying the Holocaust:
Amazingly, she got back a response, in which Zarif said that Iran does not deny the Holocaust, and that "the man who is perceived to be denying it is gone now," obviously referring to Ahmadinejad.
Zarif later confirmed to reporters that it was really him who was tweeting those messages and also that he recognized he was tweeting with Nancy Pelosi's daughter.

The other interesting tweet came from President Rouhani, noting a change in who controlled Iran's nuclear efforts, and also signalling a greater willingness to have a "constructive interaction" with the world on this:
This, also, is a pretty big deal, and while I'm sure many will (rightfully) view the whole thing with skepticism, one can also be hopeful that this is a sign of a real shift in policies from Iran.

But perhaps even more interesting is the fact that this is all happening over Twitter. The fact that Zarif and Pelosi could have an exchange like that is fairly astounding once you think about it. That sort of thing was basically impossible just a few years ago. The ability to do diplomacy via social media is quite amazing. It really was just a year and a half ago that we were somewhat amazed (and also hopeful) that various citizens of both Israel and Iran were reaching out to each other via Facebook, to try to build direct connections and a hopeful sense of peace between citizens, but we wondered if the same sort of thing would ever extend up to the politicians and those in power. While we're not there yet, it's at least nice to see some sort of encouraging sign.

The ability to actually communicate and relate to one another as human beings rather than as caricatures is incredibly powerful. It can (and will) be abused at times, but we can still hope for good results and be encouraged when we see potential signs of it happening.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 2:45am

    Don't wanna come across as a grammar nazi, but in the headline it should be "Israel" and not "Isreal".

    Back to the topic: this is a step in the right direction, however small it may be. I hope the Iranian official continue to move in that right direction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 2:47am


    Don't wanna come across as a grammar nazi, but in the headline it should be "Israel" and not "Isreal".

    Ugh. That's not grammar nazi'ing, that's pointing out a bad typo. Sorry. It's fixed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 3:10am

    Gotta be a record

    A whole 11 hours before someone brings up the holocaust, that's never been managed on the internet before.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 3:10am

    Iran's nuclear negotiations

    It'd be fairly interesting if Iran started to build thorium reactors. Thorium cannot be used to make nuclear weapons, has much higher energy density (like 60x of u-235) and much more safe than uranium reactors.

    The only problem is because it's abundant, a byproduct of rare-earth production, nuclear fuel contractors don't invest in reactor building -> much higher cost on the government.

    So, in exchange for the assurance of israel and the us that iran won't make nukes, these two should make ample donations for the program.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 3:28am

    well, just *seems* like a big deal...

    ...'cause we have been exposed to propaganda about eye-ran for so long...

    like so many other 'issues' which were mini-false-flags, achminawhateverthefuckhisnamewas (yes, the irony...) did not have the views ascribed to him as reported in our media...

    it was generally a lot more subtle than that...
    but, since eye-ran were teh evil, NOTHING they said could be construed as 'positive'/good, and EVERYTHING they said was spun as threatening...

    same ole same ole: unka sam bullhorning everyone else down, so truth was perverted, and lies were promulgated...
    just another day in Empire...

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 3:29am

    Re: Gotta be a record

    The usual cock-horse of the jews..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 3:45am


    while its true that one views all governments as suspect this does seem so hopeful. Can't think of a better word for it. strangely i welled up reading this. but then it is a friday.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Viln (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 4:25am

    Nice to see the new Iranian diplomatic corps trying to put on a pleasant public face. Now we just need the Revolutionary Guard leadership to send their orders to Iraqi militants for retaliatory strikes via twitter, so we can all discuss and provide feedback.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 6:03am

    Re: Gotta be a record

    Ooops looked at the wrong timestamp.

    40 minutes, much more in line with internet norms. Guess I'll have to call the folks at Guinness and apologise for getting them excited.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Pragmatic, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 6:19am

    This is probably a response to the likely strikes on Syria, since that nation is a key ally of Iran and the war hawks are screaming for an attack on Iran. With Syria gone, they'd have no allies, so they're making nice in the hope of persuading the world that attacking them would be a bad thing.

    They're not a real threat and never have been, they're just sitting on an ocean of oil and are friendly with Syria. All the Israel-baiting was just bravado, red meat for the base. However, it can't be denied that they've been involved in terrorism; what I'm saying is, a full-scale war was always out of the question.

    It might be worth reading this:'%C3%A9tat to get some background on US-Iranian relationships

    Also port-to-assads-syria ds-and-why-are-they-supporting-assad

    http:/ /

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 6:23am

    On Twitter, we are all the same

    There is no real distinction (other than perhaps a minuscule flag saying it has been verified as real) between the Twitter account of a president and the Twitter account of a homeless man. They are all the same.

    Twitter flattens hierarchies. A nobody can talk to a VIP and a VIP talk to a nobody, just as easily as a nobody can talk to another nobody.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 7:01am

    The Iranians have been chronically and consistently mistranslated and misquoted on issues related to Jews and Israel in the western media by certain hawks. It seems like they have decided to bypass those translation and news services in order to communicate with the English speaking world more directly - good for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 7:02am


    I just came across this video. Sounds quite convincing, but can't verify the facts. Any opinions?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Watchit (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    Sometimes it's ok to be optimistic. I hope these are signs for greater peace in the middle east :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Trails (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 7:53am

    Please add salt

    The challenge with Iran is that the president rules with the consent of the mullahs. The theocracy wields the ultimate power.

    They also have an established pattern of looking like they'll allow reform, and those who stick up their heads lose their heads.

    While I would love to see change in Iran, even taking the new president at face value doesn't carry much weight as the mullahs are the final authority in Iran.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    res (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:05am

    Re: Iran's nuclear negotiations

    yes, Iran and China building Thorium Reactors. I would like to see distributed generation with one reactor every 50 miles.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    PRMan, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:26am

    Mind blown

    Good for them. This was the type of response I had hoped for when Kim Jong-il died and his son took over. He could have made peace with the whole world very easily, but chose his father's ways.

    This is great news for Iran.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Erik Jay (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 8:39pm

    Re: Blimey - thank you, you speak for me, as well

    I feel as if I wrote your post, as I have exactly the same skepticism about government pronouncements. Further, I then had the same emotional reaction you did to the tale, so I got that old feeling again, one now so rare that its impact is disorienting -- hope. Hope, with a little love thrown in, can move mountains. Good thing, too: There are lots of them between where we are right now, as a nation, and where we need to be -- moving back over that red line we ALL crossed, called apathy, and toward freedom once again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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