On Facebook, Israel Writes in Arabic to Engage a Contentious Public

The men and women in charge of branding and marketing for Israel’s military are known for their active engagement in social media, but something they had not been particularly known for, at least not until very recently, was the generation of content written and produced in Arabic. Incredibly, this week didn’t just see Palestine voted into full membership at UNESCO, it also saw the public unveiling of the Israeli army’s first bona fide Arabic Facebook page. It’s set to join the ranks of the army’s official Arabic Twitter, YouTube channel, and the Israel Defense Forces’ official Arabic website.

The army’s updates on the world’s largest social network are intended to supply “approved public information” about its “activities in the Palestinian territories” and spark off interactive engagement with its readership — something the Israelis don’t expect to have much trouble with.

That Israel is providing military dispatches in the language of its famously disputatious brethren is being viewed by many as the country reaching out to the domestic and international Arabic-speaking community — most especially the great numbers that find themselves under new, if unresolved, leadership on account of this year’s phenomenal Arab Spring uprisings.

Maj. Avichay Adraee, spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, is credited with championing Arabic social engagement. He has referred to the need for Israel’s military to build a relationship of trust with the Arabic-speaking public — one that is “maintained on a daily basis” and that extends beyond times of crisis.

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