Israel's Wars are Waged Online

Published: June 3rd 2010
in News » Israel

IDF Logo
Pic: IDF

Israel has always been known, and feared, for its military. A military that had an aura of invincibility around it, making the impossible possible.  Missions were carried out with a surgeon’s precision, logistically and tactically, and the world, including Israel’s enemies, was in awe.


Recently that all changed.  That’s not to say that the IDF is less professional.  On the ground, sea and in the air the IDF is more advanced then they have ever been, and better equipped to handle all combat scenarios, but they were ill prepared for the wars waged online.


Israel’s enemies have learned a very important lesson: if you broadcast your message, people will listen.  Regardless of whether that message is completely true or not, when the message is provided by only one side then it’s seen as the truth.  This had been made even easier due to the IDF’s stance on shared information.  Aside from the lack of concern for world opinion, the IDF believes that their soldiers are put in further harm due to outside media pressure which can cause them to be hesitant.


However, recently the IDF has had to change their stance on shared information.  The use of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms by Israel’s enemies have made them realize that world opinion is as important as the results of the mission itself.  During the Gaza campaign of 2009, the IDF provided full camera crews in their combat units in order to protect their soldiers from accusations of war crimes, which did nothing to stop the Goldstone report from accusing Israel of said crimes, but found another use of the videos.  An Israeli soldier and former Yale student, together with another American Israeli, decided to post some of these videos online.  The reaction was tremendous and instantaneous, and thus their YouTube channel became the IDF's official channel, and had generated millions of views within days.


The reaction was so swift and powerful that the IDF decided to create a social media department to maximize their outreach.  They created a Twitter page, a Facebook page and along with their YouTube channel, had their much needed three-prong media attack plan.  Videos were posted and shared all across the net.  The IDF finally had a way to show their version of the truth, and make this media war a bit more competitive. 


Earlier in the week when the flotilla crisis occurred, the IDF had videos up within hours to back up their claims that the “peaceful” activists were not quite as peaceful as they were made to be.  They followed several videos of the soldiers being attacked while entering the boat with other videos of the IDF transferring aid to Gaza to rebuke the accusations that Israel provides no assistance to the Palestinians during the blockade.  These videos have generated over 3 million views so far and while they might not change the mind of officials who were quick to condemn Israel , they have helped the IDF defend themselves in the court of public opinion. 


For a military to use social media to justify its actions is unheard of.  But Israel is in a unique position, one which no country has ever had to deal with.  With so much false accusations and misinformation being spread about the IDF and the State of Israel, they don't have the luxury of ignoring the world media like the United States does.  Therefore to exonerate themselves, the IDF had to essentially become a brand which is being marketed online, but one with no goods to sell, just their side of the story.

Related articles: (gaza aid flotilla, IDF, social networks)

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