The State of Israel prides itself on being masters of public image. They are experts at marketing Israel as a tourist paradise (as long as you’re not a tourist of Palestinian descent) and spinning the occupation as an inconvenience that visitors shouldn't worry their little heads about. Israel also tries very hard to present herself as religious tolerant while granting superior status to its citizens of a certain faith. In an effort to distract from the almost daily incitement by Israeli extremists at Islam's third holiest site, Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem, and the recent raising of the Israeli flag in front of the Dome of the Rock the Israeli Defense Forces thought it would be fabulous to record a vlog wishing those very same Muslims they harass daily a very Happy Eid al Adha.
The army needed someone to deliver this special message and they knew there was only one man for the job: Avichay Adraee, the head of the IDF's Arabic Media Desk. I’d like to tell you more about Avichay but he’s a man of mystery. There’s not even a Wikipedia page for him; but there will be one next week when I’m done building it. What he lacks in biographical history, he makes up for in social media presence. Avichay Adraee tweets, he friends folks on Facebook, he stars in a slew of videos on the IDF YouTube channel, and he’s LinkedIn. Nowhere on any of these platforms is his formal education listed, so I am going to assume he was raised by wolves and that is why he is fluent in Arabic. You see, Adraee is not your average Israeli soldier, screaming “Bo, bo, bo!” Double A prefers to use Arabic to express himself and did exactly that as he delivered the performance of a lifetime in the Israeli Army’s Eid Al-Adha clip.
Avichay Adraee seems to have shot and directed himself in the extreme close up, "Happy Eid," message posted to the IDF official YouTube channel on Tuesday. Palestinian Twitter reacted swiftly to Adraee's holiday video greeting. Words used to describe the message were “creepy” “delusional” and “WTF.” Surprisingly, there were no outpourings of thank yous from the Muslim community at large or from the over 1 million Muslims who carry Israeli citizenship.
When I watched the video for the first time my initial queries were, "Is this a joke?" “Why is he shouting?” and “Why is this dude speaking Arabic?”
Does the Israeli Defense Forces' PR department really think it makes the message more palatable to Palestinians because he is using their native tongue while Israel continues to deny them access to Jerusalem? Adraee's YouTube greeting is subtitled in English for viewers who prefer to watch it on mute or don't have Avichay's Arabic skills. Nevertheless, I would like to take a moment to translate the translation for you. Adraee's stellar performance may overshadow his actual message so I have taken the time to break it down for you. It is important for readers to note that I’m not a licensed psychoanalyst, nor do I play one on TV—yet. This is just my artistic interpretation of Avichay Adraee's spoken word Eid piece:
Greetings to you
[My boss is making me do this]
In honor of the blessed Eid al-Adha,
[Which I totes don’t believe in]
Which is being celebrated by Muslims and Druze
[Who I have to be nice to because the Druze are good little citizens who serve in the Army when they are not refusing to; plus they only have one holiday and this is it. As for the Muslims, that Son of Hamas guy is pretty cool, but I think he turned Christian. Happy Eid anyway, my man.]
In the State of Israel and around the Arab worldI extend to you great blessings:
I wish peace and goodness to everyone on this blessed holiday.
[Except the Palestinians who can go to hell in a hand basket]
This holy holiday comes as the regionIs experiencing its most difficult time.
[The Arab Spring is a total fail, yo!]
—Blood, murder and displacement,
[The occupation and the settlements are the gift that keeps on giving from Israel to the Palestinians, with love on Eid Al-Adha. Build! Build! Build! Oh, and shout out to the Prawer Plan: Only 40,000 Bedouins left to forcibly transfer!]
This is the reality of the present situation
[Too bad, so sad]
From which are absent the meaning, the wisdom,The justice and symbols of Eid il-Adha
[Sucks to be Muslim if you live in Gaza or the West Bank. No justice or access to Jerusalem for you!]
That demand love and understanding.
[It is very important for the Palestinians, and the Arab countries that ignore them, to understand that we are number one, we are the best, and the Palestinians will remain oppressed.]
I hope that those who celebrate this holiday will fulfill its meaning;
[I don’t think he knows what the meaning of this holiday is or what he’s asking for at this point.]
That it will serve as a symbol of renewal for your hearts;
That in the near future, the region will experience a great peace.
[Didn’t Kerry say something about sealing the peace deal in nine months? Fifty shekels says that never happens. Who’s in?]
Here, I would like to especially extend my good wishes
To the soldiers of the Israel Defense ForcesWho are celebrating the holiday.
[You guys are the best, seriously. Please ignore the fact that your holy sites are under siege and even though you are willing to die for Israel, you are a second-class citizen. Don’t even think about family reunification. Happy Eid!]
Our fellow citizens, may Almighty God ensure health,
[Even though you are a demographic threat and I wish you would all move to Jordan.]
Security and joy for you and your families.
[but not for the Palestinians.]
[Peace out, I'm awesome]
This is not the first time Adraee reached out to the Palestinans online. In July, he tried to rain on Arab Idol winner Muhammed Assaf’s parade by taking to Twitter to praise the Palestinian pop idol from Gaza and take a swipe at Hamas. Adraee tweeted in Arabic, “Congratulations Assaf on winning—we wish Hamas would allow the people in the Strip to be happy instead of restraining all signs of happiness as they have been doing so far.”
Assaf politely told Adraee to take his Tweet and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine and he wasn't talking about Gaza. The Arab Idol took to his Facebook page and responded, “What would really be ‘brilliant’ is if you stop killing our children and stop occupying our land so that our people can enjoy hearing our singing and not the sound of your bombs falling.”
The Eid Al-Adha message was was similarly offensive because while Israel is wishing the Muslim community a happy Eid, they are simultaneously denying access to Jerusalem to millions of Muslims, Palestinian or not. Eid Al-Adha marks the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca and Muslims believe that continuing the pilgrimage from Mecca to Jerusalem makes the journey even more blessed. It is called to “Qadis.” Israel, which controls access to the Muslim holy sites in the Old City, denies that privilege to the same Muslims it claims to be wishing a very happy holiday.
Perhaps next year, instead of making a YouTube clip, Israel should consider granting Palestinian Muslims living in the West Bank and Gaza freedom of movement so they can celebrate Eid in East Jerusalem.