The next Israel Independence Day, expect to see the letters of the Google logo featured on the company’s homepage shaped by Israeli air force personnel and framed by two F-16 jets. No, this is not a hoax and not from The Onion. It was reported by Israel state radio (IBA) veteran military reporter, Carmella Menashe.
When Google CEO, Eric Schmidt came calling at the Hatzerim Airbase, the airmen there were ordered by their commanding officers to join in a formation which, from the air, spelled out the Google icon. The logo was framed by two Lavi fighter jets. How absolutely picturesque.
This macabre commercial venture appears to have been organized by those innovative folks in the IAF public affairs unit. Though what they could’ve been thinking when they devised this stunt, Lord only knows.
The airmen themselves were unhappy with being recruited to promote Google. They believed that they had enlisted in the Air Force to serve their country and not to promote corporate interests.
In separate remarks made during his Israel visit, Schmidt praised Israel for its compulsory army service which, so he naively believes, “allows both men and women to emerge from such service with superior analytical and leadership skills, permitting the State of Israel to become a global leader.”
This whole gambit by the IAF reminded one reader of the character Scheisskopf (“shithead” in German) in the novel, Catch-22. He is a low-level officer who is continually promoted from a minor rank to Lt. Gen. despite having no other skills than obsessively marching his men in formation on a parade ground.
In another social media story, Facebook Israel hired former PMO staffer and current foreign ministry PR flack, Jordana Cutler. She will be a liaison for Facebook with the government. Her hiring appears to be a sop thrown to Internal Security Minister Gil Erdan, who threatened to submit a Knesset bill which to hold a Facebook responsible for anti-Israel content.
Cutler will presumably be the right wing government’s eyes and ears inside Facebook and an internal lobbyist for ultra-nationalism inside the company.
Israel has stepped up its monitoring of social media as have other authoritarian nations like China, Kuwait, Dubai and Qatar. It arrested Palestinians who have posted material supporting resistance to Occupation. If Cutler’s hiring means Israel expects Facebook to preemptively monitor and censure such content, then the company may face the wrath of users both in Israel and worldwide.