Israeli army spokesman says he's "candid," not racist
In an ”official comment” published on Facebook yesterday, the Israeli army’s social media guru, Sacha Dratwa, bemoaned the “cynical use” of his “private pictures” (which are actually public, as he himself goes onto say in a muddled statement.)
Boxes & Briefs reported Friday about a photo posted by Dratwa on his Facebook profile, which depicted him posing with brown mud on his face under the caption “Obama Style.”
Dratwa appears to have since removed the photo, but maintains that he has always been “completely candid about [his] beliefs and ha[s] nothing to hide.”
— Sacha Dratwa (@SachaDratwa) November 25, 2012
“There have been attempts to make use of private photos from my Facebook profile in order to publicly misrepresent my opinions. Due to the amount of public attention I’ve garnered in recent days I have decided to restrict access to my page, in order to protect my privacy and prevent further cynical use of the information therein.
I am, and have always been, completely candid about my beliefs and have nothing to hide – as reflected by my Facebook profile, which until recently was open to everyone. The aforementioned photos do not reflect my beliefs and have no bearing whatsoever on my position in the IDF.
Dratwa is likely right that the photo will have no bearing on his position in the IDF. Indeed, Dratwa’s non-apology even invited some declarations of support.
— Miriam(@Miriam_Young) November 25, 2012
@sachadratwa todah. If there's anything we can do for you in America, please, please let me know. Would love to help. Maybe crowd source.
— Avi Geller (@AviGeller) November 25, 2012
Elsewhere, on Reddit, a defender of Dratwa’s argued that Israelis “are insensitive to the whole race thing because they never fucked over or enslaved Africans,” (tell that to these Ethiopian Jews who were attacked by a mob that had reportedly "mistaken" them for African migrant workers ), while several Tweeps questioned the veracity of the photo and demanded proof (despite the fact that Dratwa didn’t issue a denial in his official declaration and hasn't responded to questions asking whether the photo was doctored.)
— David Clinch (@DavidClinchNews) November 24, 2012
While Dratwa, the IDF and their supporters can continue to claim that any offense taken is “cynical,” we at Boxes & Briefs have drawn a different conclusion:
Had Dratwa been unaware of the history and significance of blackface, an apology would have been appropriate (surely, Dratwa and his supporters are fluent in identifying and deploring the symbols and stereotypes that conjure an ugly, painful past for Jews.)
Brownface/blackface isn’t a harmless gesture. It’s also merely the tip of the iceberg (icebergs happen to be white, which makes this a stellar idiom for elucidating issues of race to self-justifying racists.)
Parallels between the pre-civil rights era treatment of Blacks in America and Palestinians by Israel today are far-reaching. Consider that Dratwa may well have had the (in his mind, brilliant and social-media savvy) idea to pose in brownface as Obama, all the while frolicking at a beach resort on segregated, occupied land, the type that routinely denies access to non-Jewish visitors.
And finally, Sam Biddle of Gizmodo/Gawker, who published a November 21 profile of Dratwa featuring his Facebook photos but – bizarrely – omitted any reference to the blackface one (the fourth photo down in Dratwa's public gallery), has not responded to repeated requests for an explanation, neither on Twitter nor by e-mail. Indeed, Gawker has also repeatedly deleted comments we left under the article. What gives?