Losing The Twitter War, Ctd


Goldblog agrees with Koplow, calling the IDF’s social media campaign the “hamasization” of Israeli PR. In a post we cited earlier, Goldblog adds:

David Rothkopf just pointed out to me that people are most influenced by their enemies. In this case, the braggadocio of the IDF is beginning to resemble the braying of various Palestinian terror outfits over the years. All death is tragic, even the deaths of your enemies.

Jeffrey also points to Jon Mitchell’s reporting on another troubling element of IDF’s online campaign:

The IDF Blog now has atrocious gamification badges with points and rewards for sharing the content to social media. For example, if you visit the site 10 times, you get the “Consistent” badge. If you search the blog multiple times, you’re promoted to “Research Officer.” Yes, Israel has gamified war. This is absolutely horrendous. … Gamification is offensive when coupon companies do it. This is a WAR.

The IDF insists that the gamification has been around for months and that Mitchell is incorrect to assume it arose for this conflict. Mitchell doesn’t buy it. Meanwhile, Lauren Bohn has details on the team of 30 soldiers who handle the writing and graphic design for the IDF’s “Interactive Media” branch. One of those soldiers called the Internet an “additional war zone”. Laura Goldman spoke with IDF spokesperson Captain Eytan Buchman about such reasoning:

[Buchman:] “We learned from Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009 that there were potential new audiences that we could target rather than the traditional media,” he said. “There is so much misinformation coming out of Gaza. Videos show a man be carried into an ambulance, but don’t show the same man walking out of the ambulance a few minutes later. Hamas falsely claimed to have hit an Israeli naval vessel. Social media allows everyone to see for themselves what is happening and make their own decisions.” As for the controversial decision to show the video of the assassination of senior Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari, Buchman defends it. “The video shows that we hit him when he was in the middle of the intersection to minimize collateral damage,” he said. 

In a new front in the social media war, IDF soldiers have been sharing their war readiness on Instagram (one such image is seen above). Stepping back, Arwa Mahdawi points out that marketing is something the Israelis have always been good at:

Ever since it officially came into existence in 1948, Israel has gone methodically about the creation of a “Brand Israel”.

This originally began with an emphasis of the religious significance of a state for the Jewish people. Then, in 2005, when it was time for a rebrand, the Israeli government consulted with American marketing executives to develop a positioning that would appeal to a new generation: an Israel that was “relevant and modern” rather than a place of “fighting and religion”. So Israel did some pinkwashing, and suddenly became a vocal champion of gay rights. It fought to retain cultural ownership of falafel, hummus, and Kafka. It poured millions of dollars into tourism campaigns that sought to replace imagery of wartorn landscapes with sun-kissed seascapes.

When it comes to winning modern wars, a robust marketing campaign is as important as a military campaign. But while Israel has long been aware of this, the Palestinians have never been quite so PR-savvy. Back in 2005, the Economist quoted a Palestinian official who said that Israelis “spend a lot of time in marketing, and they succeed, whereas the Palestinians have a really good product, but invest nothing in selling it”. Several years on, nothing has changed. The Palestinian messaging currently being most amplified by the media consists of Hamas’s crazed proclamations about “gates of hell“. …

While Palestine should certainly not be looking at emulating the IDF’s feverous Twitter-tactics, it should be following Israel’s lead in a more sophisticated approach towards nation-branding. Because, in today’s world, if there is ever to be a Palestine there needs to first be a “Brand Palestine”.

Case in point: here is how the Gaza militant group Al Qassam Brigades tweeted the rockets they shot at Jerusalem today: