Image 1 of 10: Israeli women are exposing more than just support for the troops when they whip off their tops and post pix on Facebook sites like “Standing With IDF”. The week-old site has garnered nearly 18,000 followers with pix of semi-nude “patriots” painted with pro-Israeli slogans. Is this what the IDF is fighting for? And is it kosher?
Image 1 of 10: Launched July 19, FB page “Girls Love IDF” shows "love & support to IDF soldiers” and is for women who choose sincere over sexy. (They post modest selfies with hearts drawn on open palms, “IDF” inside.) But a peek at their “Likes” tab shows a downward trend in new fans - maybe new visitors are just looking for some skin?
Image 1 of 10: Nudity-in-the-national-interest is a game everyone can play! The dude who developed “Standing With IDF” made a similar Facebook site for guys to bear their butts and biceps (or benchpress their near-nude girlfriends). The site becomes unseemly when you consider that the fighting men and women are peers of these posers.
Image 1 of 10: “Bomb shelter selfies” are trending hot on social media. Air raid sirens send Israelis scrambling to safe rooms, shelters, and stairwells - sure it’s for safety, but what an opportunity to tweet how cute you look under fire! Pose with neighbors, families and pets, and don’t skip the perky captions like “Lovin’ this ceasefire!”
Image 1 of 10: David Sheen of Mondoweiss (a site reporting “from a progressive Jewish POV” on US policy in the Middle East) has been tracking a flood of terrifying tweets from pre-Army-age Israelis calling for Arab torture and total genocide. Young women author most of the posts, adding incongruously sexy selfies. (Where are their mothers?)
Image 1 of 10: We tracked this shirt (worn by an anti-Gaza guy on TV news) to blog Bare Naked Islam, which calls Islam “a mortal threat for over 1,400 years, and this culture of savages will never give up.” Why stick to facts when quoting dead leaders? (Who can’t call for retractions!) Merchandise your POV and profit from idiocy!
Image 1 of 10: An Israeli spokesman confirmed that images of Dublin’s Molly Malone in abaya, Mona Lisa in a niqab, Michelangelo's David wired up as a suicide bomber, and Denmark’s Little Mermaid with a gun were sent from his embassy’s “Israel in Ireland” Facebook and Twitter accounts. Irish viewers demanded retraction of the outrageous propaganda!
Image 1 of 10: Capitalizing (literally) on anti-Palestine fervor, an Israeli crowdfunding project to tear down Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock and build The Third Temple on the ruins raised over $14,000 in two days. Rabbi Chaim Richman, man behind the plan, says this will bring “a new era of universal harmony and peace”. He has rocks in his dome!
Image 1 of 10: Bloody war, when young men’s minds turn to...pizza? A project named PizzaIDF starts its blog with, “Once again our homeland is under attack. Missiles from Gaza are flying on our southern cities, and again civilians are in the front line.” So thin-crust pizza with mushrooms is the answer? Treat a platoon for less than $200, soda included.
Image 1 of 10: Sending “care” packages to soldiers is a tradition as old as war. There are sites collecting hand knit hats organized by moms, and many others such as “Thanks Israeli Soldiers” that use private donations to send personal letters, small goods and services to active militia. Schemes like this tend to sidestep hatred. How it should be.
Israeli civilians have seized upon social media to express strong support of the IDF’s offensive - examples range from reasoned to ridiculous. Supporting the forces is understandable - we hate the war, but comprehend that warriors are human pawns - people with families and friends anxious for their safety, organizing messages of comfort and care packages.
But what are we to make of increasingly goofball messages of support? Bizarre “bomb shelter selfies” are trending out of Tel Aviv as residents vow to “keep on smiling!” Facebook forums flood with snaps of near-naked women painted with pro-IDF messages; pre-teens tweet with terrifying ferocity on topics they can’t possibly comprehend; as opportunists squeeze shekels from supporters with inflammatory merchandising. Is this light-hearted fun or marathon insensitivity?
It’s an age-old debate as to whether any topics are off-limits for comedy. We sure won’t settle it here, but ask you, dear reader - is poking fun at ongoing war ever ok? Or is a spell of sobriety needed when streets are still wet with blood?
(Since July 8, more than 1,800 Palestinians, 64 Israeli soldiers, two civilians and a Thai migrant worker have died as rockets and shells have flown across the Israeli-Gaza border, according to Hurriyet Daily News.)
Let’s make the argument more complicated. Ought there be similar self-censorship for how we support soldiers in active conflict? What is appropriate, and what earns an epic fail? In our increasingly instant-to-internet approach to life, social ground rules are as firm as a waterbed.
Mandatory military service is a common Israeli experience; a symbolic unifier of a society that is fractured by political and religious divides. Approximately 50% of eligible residents actually serve - many take a pass citing religious reasons, marriage or pregnancy, or on “grounds of conscience”. Ethnic Druze and Arab citizens are also exempted from duty.
Troops are largely young (many not far from childhood) with parents, siblings, friends and lovers with whom they communicate via social media. So, self-posted images of smiling soldiers sort of make sense. And maybe it’s ok to tweet a few personal photos to your army sweetie, riffing on the “pin-up” girls of WWII. But there’s a blurry tipping point where images and opinions best-left-private go very public, becoming provocative in every sense.
Competing (and childish) Facebook pages drown out more serious efforts to support the people involved in this horror by groups with less aggressive POVs. This new breed of political “Twidiots” is further distancing us from rationalism and reconciliation.
Can you conjure up a conundrum more complicated that this? Or is everything fair in war?