Israeli soldier Mor Ostrovski is facing criticism from both the international community and the Israeli Defence Force for posting an image to his now-deleted Instagram account of a Palestinian child in the crosshairs of a rifle. The picture is disturbing and comes in the wake of several such instances involving other Israeli soldiers, none of which were met with serious disciplinary action.
Based on the way the IDF sought to both trivialize and popularize its Nov. 2012 attack on the Gaza Strip, and the intense and ongoing propaganda directed at young, tech-savvy Westerners (largely), it’s hard to imagine the IDF seeing this transgression as anything more than a PR issue. After all, that’s what Israel’s military seems the most concerned about.
Despite its nauseating use of social media in “Pillar of Defence” in November, an IDF spokesperson recently declared the whole thing a resounding success because “this was the first time the foreign media asked more questions about our Twitter activity than about our bombings in Gaza.”
The spokesperson’s comment is a striking admission of the Israeli government’s approach to war. Distracting reporters and the public with bizarre social media innovations and deceptive infographs allowed the horrific reality of Israel’s attack on Gaza to continue with relatively little scrutiny.
If the growing number of giddy and inappropriate photos posted by soldiers themselves is anything to go by, the IDF’s blasé attitude toward war has worked its way into the Israeli military’s culture. The individuals’ posts display a disregard for Palestinian life and dignity that is mirrored by the IDF’s decision to turn a violent offensive into a game that non-militants could earn “points” off. Since social media is how the IDF is now measuring itself, these photos and the lax punishment they garner are significant.
Because when a country is waging war or occupying another people illegally, the most important thing inquiring minds should be looking at is said country’s social media presence, natch.
Update: This Electronic Intifada story begins with the IDF’s condemnation of Ostrovski’s image as “a severe incident which doesn’t accord with the IDF’s spirit and values” before detailing yet another case of an Israeli soldier with a large and unsettling online presence. Osher Maman, an American citizen who moved to Israel to join the army and is apparently a member of the elite Golani Brigade, posted on Facebook in August 2012 that he “just did it to beat up terrorists and shit.”