During the recent uproar over IDF Captain Peter Lerner’s cold-hearted Twitter #fail put-downs of the murdered Palestinian protester, Mustafa Tamimi, I spent some time reviewing his Twitter feed and that of others like Avital Leibovich and Captain Barak Raz. Despite the fact that their lies and pimping for the IDF were to be expected since it is, after all their job to lie on behalf of their country and army, I hadn’t expected is that their PR efforts were far broader.
They view their job as promoting Israel in all its infinite variety. If an Israeli won an international sailing competition, they’d tweet it. Captain Lerner seems to admire Jewish comedy in particular as he retweets about Tom Lehrer. Perhaps that #fail hashtag was another feeble attempt at Jewish wit (or snark). I suppose also Lerner feels compelled to throw a sop to “the other side” as when he promotes the beauties of the Israeli Palestinian town of Nazareth (unless he really means to tout the higher class Jewish-only enclave, Upper Nazareth. He also gets into the spirit of the holidays by wishing the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles “hot doughnuts, chilly nights, and cozy evenings” during Hanukah. I tell you, if I hadn’t known Lerner was a heartless SOB who valued Palestinian lives as little more than dirt, I’d have been downright touched at his humanity. Lerner also appears to be a cheerleader and career advisor for the foreign ministry as he wished Israel’s new ambassador (the last one was run out of town on a rail after Israel invaded Egypt to kill five Egyptian policemen) well in his new job. He probably should’ve warned him to always know where the key to the panic room is just in case. Lerner’s also a bit of a foreign policy wonk who takes a great interest in the goings on around the Middle East including the toppling of the ruler of Israel’s neighbors, Syria.
Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich’s specialties seems to be tourism promotion as she touts the beauty of Bethlehem during the Christmas season with a heartwarming video from the “Civil Administrator” about peace on earth and good will to man…except for Palestinians it appears. I tell you, I never knew a Civil Administrator could be so menschlich. Here she praises the desert beauty of Beersheva. Leibovich’s skills are so acute she may’ve even been on the Nobel Committee which awarded Prof. Dan Shechtman the most recent Israeli Nobel Prize. At least you might think that from her tweet congratulating him. Israel may be the only country in the world which feels national pride when its citizens win such prizes and use them as apparent confirmation of the righteousness of the cause in oppressing the Palestinians. But don’t ask the Lt. Col. any “political questions” because she’s not allowed to offer such opinions. Leave aside the fact that her very job as PR flack and her Twitter feed are political statements in themselves.
It makes you wonder why the IDF would feel it needed to employ spokespeople who delved in tourism promotion, touting of the nation’s IQ, and promoting observance of the Jewish holidays. Don’t know about you, but I always thought that soldiers fought and defended their country and should leave extraneous subjects to others. Can you imagine a U.S. military spokesperson tweeting to a Bulgarian about how gorgeous a Rocky Mountain sunset is? There seems to be a great deal of confusion within the IDF about its purpose. It has ranged far outside defending the country from military threat and bled over into PR flackery and hasbara puffery.
I suppose it’s possible that Israel’s national army, like that of China or Egypt plans to branch out into numerous profit-making enterprises which could be used, in these parlous economic times, to subsidize all those mega-billion arms system purchases and R&D. That may explain some of the diverse interests of the IDF’s spokesrepresentatives.
Finally, all of the IDF’s PR flacks seem to have majored in basic elementary math as they count fastidiously every rocket fired by every Palestinian militant which lands harmlessly in open fields. You’d be hard-pressed though to find even a whisper about routine killings of Palestinian civilians by the IDF and Border Police.