OMG (and WTF!) - What’s Up With IDF Groupies?
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? Continue reading below »
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?