After serving for more than a decade as the Israeli military’s chief Arabic-language spokesman, Major Avichay Adraee had become a fixture on Arabic news programs. Last summer, he decided to expand his efforts by taking Israel’s cold war with Hizballah to Facebook. Elhanan Miller writes:
Hizballah [members have] developed the habit of tweeting greetings from their posts in Syria to loved ones back in Lebanon. One combatant, his face unseen in the photo, thought it funny to address Adraee directly by holding up a cardboard sign: “We are practicing on the Nusra Front [a Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate currently at war with Hizballah] in preparation to occupy the Galilee.” . . .
Adraee retorted on Facebook, bashing Hizballah for attacking a field hospital that treats Syrian refugees in the Arsal region, near the border with Lebanon. “My response, I thought, left us even,” Adraee said. “But the following day another fighter from [Hizballah’s] Radwan Force appeared, in full fatigue, with a similar sign reading, ‘When we finish with the takfiris’”—a pejorative term for Islamist Sunni fighters—“‘we’ll come for you.’”
At this point, Adraee and his team decided to up the ante. IDF intelligence provided him with photos of undercover Hizballah agents positioned along the border with Israel. Adraee promptly published the images among the Syrian population, adding a warning that “these are Hizballah men endangering you.” . . .
Since its launch on Facebook four years ago, the official IDF Arabic spokesman’s page—boasting over 1.2 million followers—uses Avichay Adraee as its brand. The same is true for Twitter, with 177,000 followers. As a result, he has become a household name across the Arab Middle East, with spoofs and parodies displaying the uniformed, eloquent Israeli on a regular basis. . . . It is hard to gauge the effect of the army’s Arabic activity on social media, but Adraee said several positive indicators cannot be denied. [He uses as one] yardstick for success the growing use by Arab media of the term “Israel Defense Forces” when referring to the Israeli army. “That term used to be unacceptable [in Arabic media]. . . . The change is slow and small, but extremely significant.”