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Using Female Soldier Influencers as a Tool to Garner Sympathy and Conceal Israeli Army Violence

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
3rd March 2024
Using Female Soldier Influencers as a Tool to Garner Sympathy and Conceal Israeli Army Violence
Israel exploits female soldiers to evoke sympathy and normalize violence (X)

Natalia Fadeev, the long-haired blonde with blue eyes and precisely drawn eyebrows, is not a show business star; she is a reserve soldier in the Israeli army. With nearly a million followers on Instagram, she dedicates her account to publishing pro-Israeli army content, often accompanied by sexual suggestions.

Fadeev, along with other female soldiers, is on a mission to promote Israeli propaganda during the Gaza war. Her videos are part of thousands of similar scenes that advance the Israeli narrative, with a style that emphasizes her external appearance.

Recently, she posted a photo holding flowers with the caption 'Make love, not war,' and commented on another picture, stating, 'People were savagely killed for one reason only: because they are Jewish.'

Natalia Fadeev
Natalia Fadeev

A search on Instagram reveals the widespread presence of pictures and videos of female soldiers promoting the Israeli narrative, using their appearance to serve the war machine. Numerous pages, like 'girlsdefense,' are dedicated to publishing pictures of Israeli female recruits in exhibitionistic scenes, holding weapons.

Israeli Agency Recruits Army Women as Social Media Influencers

Research shows that the Israeli army employs a strategy to promote its narrative by enlisting girls whose appearance is more likely to attract attention. For instance, Natalya Fadeev is a member of an organized team called 'The Alpha Gun Angels,' an Israeli agency founded in 2018 by Orin Julie, a former soldier in the Israeli army and a renowned Instagram fitness model.

The agency comprises soldiers who gained fame on social media, particularly on Instagram. This Israeli agency focuses on marketing the military model of the Israeli army with a sexy style, often enhanced with physical suggestions, adding to the mix of the prevailing Israeli militarism. Its goal is to recruit young Israeli women into the army, transforming them into influencers and fashion models to enhance the military's public image.

The Alpha Gun Angels
The Alpha Gun Angels

Influencer Soldiers and Empowering the Israeli Narrative

Israeli female soldiers' social media activity garners widespread interaction, leading some to dedicate their accounts to posting hundreds of artistically-themed images. This includes sharing videos of them dancing with weapons, engaging in fun rituals, and playing games in their service locations. Such content aims to create a 'positive' perception of the army, diverting attention from the atrocities committed in the Gaza Strip. This seems like an attempt to normalize violence by associating it with attractive content promoted by influential female soldiers. The continuous effort to propagate the notion that Palestinians are solely terrorists and extremists is also evident.

Influencer Soldiers and Empowering the Israeli Narrative

Entertainment Militarism in Support of the Israeli Narrative

Rebecca Stein, a Cultural Anthropology professor at Duke University, asserts that employing attractive female soldiers as influencers on social media constitutes a propaganda strategy by the Israeli army. This approach holds significant importance for the army as it aims to control the media narrative through 'entertainment militarism.'

According to Stein, the Israeli army seeks to construct a compelling narrative on social media, using simple, popular language and relatable content, particularly material with an artistic aspect. In essence, the Israeli army aims to project a consistently positive image to capture the hearts and minds of people worldwide.

the Israeli army

Israel Supports Beautiful Female Recruits To Gain Sympathy and Distract From Genocide

The prevalence of this content is not confined to the personal pages of Israeli female soldiers; official Israeli pages actively promote it as well. A quick visit to the official Israeli army channel on TikTok reveals a continuous stream of videos featuring female soldiers dancing to music.

“There is a long history of the Israeli military supporting beautiful female soldiers, who become influential military icons that incorporate ‘beauty,’ in an attempt to gain sympathy and distance the recipient from the ugly, actual face of Israeli militarism and its practices,” explains Rebecca Stein, the cultural anthropology professor.

"The Israeli army uses these icons in new ways to meet the needs of media propaganda in the age of digital progress," Stein explains. This strategy often succeeds, given the volume of interaction with this content. Combining Israeli military uniforms and weapons with beautiful women in their innovative style can, for example, create a distorted image for a young, progressive American sympathetic to the Palestinians. The calm and life-loving appearance reflected in the videos and pictures of female soldiers cannot be directly connected to the scenes of brutal violence actually practiced by the Israeli army, constituting a form of misinformation that the public may receive.

For her part, Yael Berda, a sociology and anthropology professor at the Jerusalem University, says that the use of attractive women in the armed forces as TikTok influencers reflects an attempt to diversify combat groups and introduce an element of sexual and cultural difference into such violent institutions as the Israeli army. This applies not only to attractive women, but also to people of color, in order to reflect an apparent image of equality and pluralism within the ranks of the Israeli army.

attractive women in the armed forces as TikTok influencers

According to Berda, there are similarities between the strategy of influence through beautiful women on social media and Israel's "pinkwashing" strategy of promoting its support for LGBT people and other minorities under its rule, in order to project an image of "civility" to public opinion and deflect attention from human rights violations of Palestinians and the apartheid policies pursued by Israel. Promoting scenes of gay people and attractive women within the Israeli army could contribute to redesigning the image of the Israeli army to appear as a progressive army with liberal values.

the Israeli army

The Fake Israeli Plurality: Misinformation Through Promoting Equality Values

The Israeli army is developing a clear media strategy based on the appearance of support for women, aiming at multiple goals. This includes winning over the feminist movement, especially women activists with pro-Palestinian positions. The apparent efforts to support women are utilized as a marketing tool, diverting public opinion from concerns about the occupation's practices and crimes.

Despite the goal of creating a humane image of the Israeli army, a contradiction in the content published by the Israeli army reveals misinformation about the real image. There is evidence of sexism against women, portraying them as mere sexual beings and using their bodies as a marketing tool for propaganda. This reinforces a negative and humiliating image around them. For instance, the Israeli army page published a video showing an Israeli tank with the hashtag “#SuperModel” and the caption “We have been serving appearance since 1948,” comparing the Israeli tank to the ideal body of a fashion model.

The Israeli Army's TikTok page
The Israeli Army's TikTok page

Official Israeli pages have also posted content depicting Israeli women fighters as workers and mothers. This suggests that acts of violence carried out by Israeli forces are portrayed as a necessity and a defense for those who were living a quiet life, attempting to convey that violence is not an inherent characteristic of the Israeli army.

Israeli women fighters as workers and mothers

The Israeli Army and the Aesthetic Coordination of Violence

By crafting the persona of the 'fun army,' the Israeli army portrays itself on the internet as an unofficial, humorous, and romantic entity with noble values. Seizing opportunities to showcase women during globally recognized events like Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Day, and weddings, it successfully diverts attention from its military practices and the notorious aggression it is known for.

This strategy is part of a broader plan to disseminate propaganda normalizing the scenes of violence committed by the Israeli army. The intention is to depict the violence as a 'necessary' response to 'terrorism,' aligning with the Palestinian doctrine, as the Israeli army asserts. This effort seeks to imbue the Israeli war machine with a moral aspect.

The Israeli Army and the Aesthetic Coordination of Violence

According to American activist and academic Angela Davis, the Israeli army does not attempt to conceal or soften the violence inflicted upon the Palestinian people. Rather than hiding from it, they reproduce and present it in a new light on social media. This includes effects like combining it with background music, intensifying it in aesthetically artistic or sexual videos, effectively transforming violence into comic entertainment or an attractive element that obscures the truth. This is evident in the use of women in videos, where violence and misleading propaganda become virtual commodities that garner admiration and interaction, consequently expanding the reach of the misleading content.

It is clear that social media platforms are crucial tools for the Israeli army, receiving systematic financial support from Israel. Since the onset of its war on Gaza, Israel has disseminated numerous paid advertisements on the internet, including videos that reached millions worldwide. The Israeli army has deployed a multifaceted propaganda machine, utilizing various forms and tools to disseminate the Israeli narrative. This includes leveraging Israeli influencers and employing techniques such as comedy and satire.

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