It all began as a personal project by a young Israeli Arab who lives in northern Israel. He wanted to use social networking to convince other Israeli Arabs that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are not some “army of evil” and that its soldiers are not as bloodthirsty as they tend to be portrayed in Arab propaganda films. He soon learned, however, that in the digital age, there is no end to surprises. Instead of messages and responses from the Israeli Arab audience he was targeting, he began receiving messages of peace and love from young Arab men and women from across the Arab world.
M. is an Israeli Arab Muslim who served in the IDF. He spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. Last year, he came across a series of billboards sponsored by the Balad Party as part of its campaign against the recruitment of Israeli Arabs into the IDF. He decided to fight back. “I saw the signs that were hung in Arab villages, and I kept track of the Facebook campaign being run by activists of Balad and the other Arab parties under the name ‘TZaHaL ma bistahal’ ['The IDF isn’t worth it']. It infuriated me,” he said.