One month before the 11-day attack in May, resulting in death Among more than 250 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, the Israeli army released a TikTok video in which the pilot of the plane was in the “Beautiful boy booty“.
With more than 100,000 followers and nearly 100 videos, the Israeli army’s Douyin Reflects typical influencer content. In the official information, you can find fitness tutorials, food recipes, hide and seek games and “soldier training skills” such as scuba diving skills and Maga training.
The first video was released in September 2020 to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Since then, the army’s page has built a large audience, and its most popular video-promoting the Iron Dome air defense system-has been viewed nearly a million times.
TikTok is a platform dominated by young people and has a subtle relationship with political content. Although some political influencers have sparked controversy, users usually deal with politics very cautiously or nuancedly-partly because of the platform’s moderation guidelines and censorship system.
However, when it comes to serious international crises and national security matters, basically all the points of view can be found. At least in the virtual realm, the controversy is not disproportionate-many posts are pro-Palestinian, but there are also many pro-Israel.
When you search for “Israel” on Douyin, dozens of related tags will appear, including “loveisrael” and “boycottisrael”. In total, posts tagged with “Israel” have more than 7 billion views. There are more than 30 million videos under “loveisrael”.
The characters in the content are doing a series of things: they share knowledge, support information, and sometimes joking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
These jokes don’t just come from personal data.Choosing the popular hashtag #HotGuyShit, the Israeli army shared “Just a bundle Defending empowered women in their own country”. In the post, Israeli female fighters imitated the behavior of masculine soldiers.
In another video titled “No makeup, just disguise”, female recruits conduct training activities following the sound of popular music. And these two examples are not isolated. On TikTok of the army, there seems to be an active effort to highlight the presence of women in the Israeli army.
Al Jazeera contacted the Israeli army, but did not respond to an interview request.
“This is a way [featuring women soldiers in TikTok posts] Diversify your deadly forces, not only women, but people of color, and add diversity to these violent organizations,” said Yael Berda, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Berda said that the social media strategy is also on par with the Israeli government’s “pink” efforts. Israel has been criticized for using the country’s vibrant gay scene as a guise for progress and a way to deviate from accusations of human rights violations in Palestine.
Due to inconsistencies, the Israeli army’s apparent strategy of feminism also seems to be counterproductive. Although the profile celebrates its female army, it also constructs content that can be considered a misogynistic sense of humor.
Using the trend #SuperModel and the title “We have provided appearances since 1948”, TikTok users saw the camera panning on the Israeli tank and heard a voice reading: “I tell you, Bob. Such a figure, that face, that His legs will definitely become Victoria’s Secret’s supermodel.”
Social media as a narrative weapon
“Of course, it is a propaganda tool,” said Rebecca L Stein, a writer and cultural anthropologist at Duke University. “Basically,’military entertainment’ can be regarded as a combination of military equipment and arsenals with entertainment equipment and arsenals.”
Stein believes that the Israeli military wants to create a compelling social media narrative in popular language and related content. In other words, they want to humanize their image in order to win international hearts and minds.
“they [Israeli military] Having lost this online war, they are desperate to find a solution,” Stein said.
The author added that the Israeli army’s social media believes that the solution is to improve its information, images, and infographics-more dancing soldiers make the army’s face more human. “they [the Israeli forces] Refusing to treat it as a broader political issue…that’s why they are living in a deep crisis that even the best’military entertainment’ cannot solve. “
Stein also pointed out that the Israeli military has flexible communication strategies. The focus of their narrative depends on the platform and the language spoken. In the Hebrew channel, Stein determined the dominance of the “soldiers go home and reunite with their families” narrative. In English channels such as TikTok, Stein believed that the Israeli army emphasized Israel’s narrative under gunfire, and therefore targeted the reasons for victimization and self-defense.
Whichever method is used, the author says “they [the Israeli forces] It must be seeking to make their soldiers become influencers with viral influence.”
TikTok when the bomb fell
During the latest Israeli attack on Gaza, the Israeli military posted 22 videos on TikTok, an average of two per day. In the post, they talked about military operations, showed rocket videos, and asked TikTok users: “If this is your home, what would you do?”
This is Operation Guardian of the Wall
The communication strategy is criticized. A Twitter user said: “Whenever I think that the sheer happiness that someone can bear in human suffering is limited, the IDF social media manager explodes.” wrote.
No 1. No 2. There were not 34,000 rockets launched from Gaza to Israel in the past 10 days. We will continue to defend Israel.
Israel strives to surpass everyday Palestinians on social media-these people have taken close-up and real-time pictures of the scale of Israeli military attacks.
While the Israeli army is creating content for TikTok, Gaza is being rebuilt from the rubble, this is the fourth time in the past 12 years. “We walked on the broken glass of the broken window,” Say Nadine Murtaja, a Palestinian poet living in Gaza.
Whether TikTok can become an “unbreakable” window to the world remains to be determined. However, most experts agree that Israel may continue to lose this narrative war, and people are also aware of the existence of a social media framework. Or, as the headline of the Israeli military says: “Regardless of disguise or not, our soldiers are masters of disguise.”