CYBERSPACE—Late to the party, Israel (the country) recently decided it needed a Twitter account. Naturally, it wanted a handle (i.e. username) that wasn’t confusing, like @israel. Unfortunately, by arriving a few years into the Twitter era, someone had gotten there first. Of course!
Israel Meléndez, a Miami resident and Spanish citizen, had snagged @israel in 2007, according to The New York Times. He already had one using his own name, but he told the Spanish newspaper Publico that he registered @israel to try to shake off an ex-girlfriend.
So what does any of this have to do with porn? Well, it turns out Melendez runs a Spanish-language porn site called GreenShines.com. That’s it for the porn connection.
As far as the Twitter handle goes, Meléndez was willing to hand it over to the country. He used it infrequently, but when he did he said he would be bombarded with anti-Semitic or anti-Israel responses.
“My account was basically unused because I was getting dozens of replies every day from people who thought the account belonged to the state of Israel,” he told the Times.
Better they should deal with the replies, but not for free. Meléndez wanted something for the @israel username. After some haggling, they came to a price, one an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the Times was “not pro bono.” Meléndez referred to it as “adequate.” Other reports put it at six figures.
Whatever it was, the transaction was concluded and Israel the country took over @israel, as part of a campaign to improve its global image and “expand into social media,” according to the Times.
As of today, @israel has 6,290 followers. Meléndez is free from Twitter abuse. His porn site is getting some media attention. Life is good.