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IDF social media director criticized for ‘Obama-style’ blackface photo

In another cautionary Facebook tale, Sacha Dratwa, the social media director for the Israeli Defense Forces, came under fire this week for posting a picture of himself on the site with his face smeared with mud and a caption reading "Obama style." Dratwa, a 26-year-old Belgian immigrant, has since restricted access to his Facebook page, ...

In another cautionary Facebook tale, Sacha Dratwa, the social media director for the Israeli Defense Forces, came under fire this week for posting a picture of himself on the site with his face smeared with mud and a caption reading "Obama style."

Dratwa, a 26-year-old Belgian immigrant, has since restricted access to his Facebook page, according to an ABC News blog post, but it would seem that the damage has been done. His photo, which was reportedly posted in late September, was discovered by Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Lebanese blogger, on Nov. 22, and the story was quickly picked up by news outlets.

Dratwa defended himself in this statement to Mother Jones:

In another cautionary Facebook tale, Sacha Dratwa, the social media director for the Israeli Defense Forces, came under fire this week for posting a picture of himself on the site with his face smeared with mud and a caption reading "Obama style."

Dratwa, a 26-year-old Belgian immigrant, has since restricted access to his Facebook page, according to an ABC News blog post, but it would seem that the damage has been done. His photo, which was reportedly posted in late September, was discovered by Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Lebanese blogger, on Nov. 22, and the story was quickly picked up by news outlets.

Dratwa defended himself in this statement to Mother Jones:

"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."

The IDF’s social media department, headed by Dratwa, received quite a bit of media attention during the recent conflict in Gaza, when it mounted an aggressive campaign that included tweeting a YouTube video of Ahmed al-Jabari’s assassination and trading threats with Hamas online. In a Tablet magazine profile, Dratwa said:

"We want to explain to people what happens in Israel, simply…We believe people understand the language of Facebook, the language of Twitter."

Apparently, Dratwa’s not quite fluent in Facebook. 

Sulome Anderson is a journalist based between Beirut and New York City. Follow her on Twitter: @SulomeAnderson.

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