An Arab-language Facebook page posted by an Israeli Arab citizen seeking to paint the IDF in a positive light has surprisingly attracted adoring feedback from youths across the Middle East who have responded with expressions of love and peace.The page, which was given the title Tzahal bistahal (“the IDF is worth it”), features pro-Israel messages about the country and the army as well as anti-Hamas images. Yet what is most noteworthy were the numerous photographs sent by young Arabs from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Morocco wishing to express solidarity and admiration for the Israeli military despite its image as an occupying power.The site’s author, himself an IDF veteran, told the online news outlet Al Monitor that he got the idea to create the page in response to a campaign by the Arab nationalist Balad Party, which employed a campaign slogan that read “The IDF isn’t worth it.”
He said that though his initial goal was to counter anti-IDF sentiment whipped up among Israel’s Arabs, he was stunned to find that his message resonated with young Arabs outside of Israel’s borders, particularly in countries that are still technically at war with the Jewish state.
“Good evening. I am a young woman from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia,” one Facebook user is heard saying in a video sent to the site. “I am a member of one of the better-known tribes of the Hijaz, and I am showing you Darajeh Square, a famous landmark in Jeddah. I’d like to send a message of peace and love to Israel and its dear citizens. I know it is surprising that a Saudi Arabian citizen sends a message to the people of Israel, but it is a basic principle of democracy that everyone is free to voice an opinion. I hope the Arabs will be sensible like me and recognize the fact that Israel also has rights to the lands of Palestine.”
“I support the State of Israel, and their army and nation, but in our country we are not allowed [sic] to express our opinions or we will get killed by doing it,” wrote one user from Falluja, Iraq. “I hope there will be peace between our nations, we love Israel, their people, and it's army.”