Israeli army’s TikTok tries to make propaganda cool | Israeli-Palestinian conflict News
A month before embarking on the 11-day May bombings that killed more than 250 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, the IDF released a TikTok video of airplane pilots celebrating the independence of Israel to the sound of “Pretty Boy Swag”.
With over 100,000 subscribers and nearly 100 videos, the IDF’s TikTok reflects typical influencer content. On the official profile, one can find fitness tutorials, cooking recipes, hide and seek games and “soldier training hacks” such as scuba diving skills and Krav Maga workouts.
The first video was posted in September 2020 to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Since then, the Army Page has built a substantial following with its most popular video – promoting the Iron Dome air defense system – which has been viewed nearly a million times.
TikTok, a youth-dominated platform, has a delicate relationship with political content. While some political influencers have sparked debate, users normally treat politics with a great deal of caution or nuance, in part because of the platform’s moderation guidelines and censorship.
However, when it comes to serious international crises and national security matters, it is possible to find virtually any point of view. At least in the virtual realm, the dispute is not disproportionate – many posts are pro-Palestinian, but there are also many pro-Israel.
Our birthday party is better than yours 🇮🇱7️⃣3️⃣🇮🇱 #IDF #Plane #Independence # 73
♬ Pretty Boy Swag x What You Know mashup – asamr
When you search for “Israel” on TikTok, dozens of related hashtags appear, including “loveisrael” and “boycottisrael”. Posts tagged “israel” collectively have over seven billion views. The videos under “loveisrael” have more than 30 million.
The people featured in the content do a series of things: they share knowledge, messages of support, and sometimes joke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
And the jokes don’t just come from personal profiles. Co-opting in the popular hashtag #HotGuyShit, the IDF shared “Just a group of empowered women defending their country.” In the post, Israeli female fighters mimic the behavior of macho soldiers.
In another video titled “No Makeup, Only Camouflage,” female recruits continue training activities to the sound of pop music. And these two examples are not isolated. On the Forces TikTok, there appears to be an active effort to highlight the female presence in the IDF.
The IDF has been contacted by Al Jazeera, but there has been no response to an interview request.
” It’s a mean [featuring women soldiers in TikTok posts] to diversify your murderous forces, not just women, but also people of color, and somehow put pluralism in these violent organizations, ”says Yael Berda, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem .
According to Berda, the social media strategy also draws parallels with the Israeli state’s “pinkwashing” efforts. Israel has been criticized for using the state’s vibrant gay scene as a pretext for progressivism and a way to sidestep accusations of Palestinian human rights violations.
The IDF’s apparent strategy on feminism also seems to backfire because of the inconsistency. While the profile celebrates its female troupes, it also builds content with what can be seen as a misogynistic sense of humor.
Using the #SuperModel trend and the caption “We’ve been serving looks since 1948,” TikTok users see the panoramic camera on an Israeli tank while listening to a voice recite, “And I’m telling you, Bob. With a body like that, a face like that, and legs like hers, she’s going to be a Victoria Secret supermodel ”.
We’ve been serving looks since 1948 #IDF #Fashion #Looks #SuperModel
original sound – Charly Jordan
Social networks as a narrative weapon
“Of course, it’s a propaganda tool,” says Rebecca L Stein, author and cultural anthropologist at Duke University. “Basically, ‘militainment’ can be seen as the combination of a military apparatus and arsenal with an entertainment apparatus and arsenal.
Stein argues that the IDF wants to create a compelling social media story, with popular language and relevant content. In other words, they want to humanize their image to win international hearts and minds.
“They [Israeli military] have lost this online war and they are desperate to find a solution, ”says Stein.
The author adds that the IDF’s social media believe the solution is to improve their posts, images and infographics – more dancing soldiers who humanize the face of the military. “They [the Israeli forces] refuse to see this as a larger political problem… and that is why they are going through a deep crisis, a crisis that even the best “militainment” cannot solve.
Stein also points out that the IDF has a flexible communication strategy. Their narrative focus changes depending on the platform and the language spoken. In the Hebrew chains, Stein identifies the predominance of the narrative of “soldiers returning home and reunited with their families.” In English channels such as TikTok, Stein believes the IDF is emphasizing the narrative of Israel under fire, targeting grounds of victimization and self-defense.
Whatever the approach, the author says “they [the Israeli forces] are definitely looking to turn their soldiers into viral power influencers ”.
TikTok while the bombs are falling
During the last Israeli attack on Gaza, the IDF posted 22 videos on TikTok, an average of two per day. In the posts, they talked about military operations, showed rocket videos, and asked TikTok users, “What would you do if this was your house?”
It’s Operation Guardian of the Walls
original sound – IDF
Communication strategies have been criticized. “Whenever I think there is a limit to the sheer joy that someone can feel in human suffering, the IDF social media official bursts in,” one Twitter user said. wrote.
Step 1. Step 2. Step 3.4,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel in the past 10 days. We will continue to defend Israel.
original sound – IDF
Israel struggles to outdo ordinary Palestinians on social media – people who captured the scale of the Israeli military onslaught up close, in real time.
As the IDF creates content for TikTok, Gaza is being rebuilt from ruins for the fourth time in the past 12 years. “We walk on the broken glass of our broken windows,” says Gaza-based Palestinian poet Nadine Murtaja.
Whether TikTok can serve as an “unbreakable” window to the world remains to be seen. However, most experts agree that Israel is likely to continue losing the narrative war and people are aware of the social media framing. Or, as the legend of the Israeli army says: “Camouflaged or not, our soldiers are masters of disguise.”
Camouflaged or not, our soldiers are masters of disguise. #IDF #Soldier #HideAndLook #Camoflauge
original sound – Nicola