Pro-Palestinians Hijack Israeli Military's Holocaust Twitter Tag

IDF's 'selfie with a survivor' Holocaust Remembrance Day initiative arouses mixed responses among non-political audiences, too.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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A screenshot from the #wearehere hashtag image selection. Via Twitter.
A screenshot from the #wearehere hashtag image selection. Via Twitter.
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israeli army's English-language blog is calling on readers to post photographs of themselves together with a Holocaust survivor, as part of a Holocaust Remembrance Day project the Israel Broadcasting Authority ombudsman derided as "selfie with a survivor."

But the hashtag chosen by the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Office took on a life of its own Wednesday, as activists flooded the office with pro-Palestinian remarks and flipped the hijacked hashtag on its head, turning "We are here" from a slogan referring to the Jewish people to one referring to the Palestinians.

Twitter user Peter Feld went so far as to compare the Palestinians to Holocaust survivors, tweeting: "Palestinian survivors of Israel's ethnic cleansing take over IDF's #wearehere Holocaust selfie hashtag."

On Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, photographs like the one portraying Auschwitz survivor Asher Aud, 86, of Jerusalem, were difficult to find amid messages like "Tweet for #Palestine use this hashtag #WeAreHere," "#WeAreHere to support #Palestine" and "#WeAreHere Palestine has always been and will always be."

Twitter user Eli Singer complained about the influx of pro-Palestinian comments, writing: "Great initiative by the @IDFSpokesperson but I'm saddened that this hashtag has been ambushed by people with other intentions."

The project, which was launched by the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Office, calls on readers to "pay tribute to Holocaust survivors" by posting the photographs on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag "WeAreHere," along with the survivor's name, age and place of residence.

The Spokesperson's Office plans to publish an interactive map on Sunday, the day before Holocaust Remembrance Day, showing the location of all the survivors in the photos.

"This will contribute to commemorating those who were lost, and produce a dynamic memorial to those who remain across the globe," the Spokesperson's Office said in its description of the project.

Even before pro-Palestinian activists began their effort to hijack the project, which is being promoted only in English, it had its critics in Israel.

"The IDF Spokesperson's Office is working on an original angle for the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Selfie with a survivor," tweeted Dedy Markovich, the ombudsman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. "Unbelievable."

This isn't the first time the IDF Spokesperson's Office has taken on a project that goes beyond simply explaining Israel's military activities to the public.

In July the army created an interactive website in English that was aimed at "revealing the true face of Hezbollah." The site, which includes news articles about the Lebanese militia, was meant as a " public diplomacy site that constitutes another weapon in the IDF's spokesperson toolbox the world over," the army said.

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