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Facebooking with Bibi Netanyahu

There's an old saying: He who social networks well shall be victorious in the quest to lead the Promised Land on Feb. 10, 2009.

Or something like that. Several weeks ago, I was Facebooking as usual -- the best way to stay in touch with old friends, new acquaintances, fellow journalists, and high school classmates without getting spammed -- when Benjamin Netanyahu asked to be my Facebook friend. This wasn't just his page or fan site, which also exist on Facebook, but a profile like that of any other user.

Around the same time, Knesset member Michael Eitan, also of the Likud Party, asked to be my Facebook friend. Then a prominent Israeli political strategist and convert from Kadima to Likud added me. Recently I added Likud MKs Gideon Sa'ar (deputy speaker of the Knesset) and Gilad Erdan.

Granted, utilizing the popularity and reach of social networking sites is as obligatory for politicians these days as it is for journalists. But most politicos set up their Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Flickr links on their home pages, have a staffer post updates, and then have a staffer approve friend requests as the fans come to them. Never have I seen such proactive social networking like what's come out of Likud staffers this campaign season. It's the 2.0 version of precinct walking. Do you just set up the booth on the corner and wait for voters to come to you, or do you knock on doors and introduce yourself and your platform?

Especially considering Netanyahu and Eitan were sending friend requests to a non-Israeli. But again, that's a wise move. Do I have a history of supporting Netanyahu and Likud? Yep, like lauding Netanyahu's foresight on the Gaza withdrawal in a reflective 2006 column. Does Israel's future depend solely on the support of Israelis? Of course not. So identifying global supporters and keeping them up to speed on the campaign is also wise.