There's a controversy unfolding in Israel after a picture of two men holding hands was posted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the Middle Eastern nation's military. In an effort to tout its inclusiveness and respect for gays and lesbians, the IDF posted the following image on its international Facebook page -- a picture that is sparking intense scrutiny and accusations of misleading the public.
What's the problem, you ask? Well, aside from the fact that the image, itself, draws the ire of those opposed to homosexuality, it seems some are questioning whether the picture was manufactured. While it's supposed to depict a real-life military couple, allegations are flying that one or both of the men depicted may, indeed, be straight and essentially "acting."
"It's Pride Month. Did you know that the IDF treats all of its soldiers equally? Let's see how many shares you can get for this photo," the text under the image reads.
The image has since been liked and shared thousands of times and the IDF has used it to drive home its commitment to gays and lesbians. In fact, a spokesperson has used it as an example of the military's overwhelming inclusiveness.
"No other military in the world has taken such an initiative," an IDF spokesperson said of the image and the army's efforts to showcase its kindness and inclusiveness.
When questions about the photo's authenticity began to arise, a spokesperson told the Times of Israel that it wouldn't release the names of the soldiers represented in the picture.
"The IDF respects the privacy of the soldiers featured in the photograph, and will not comment on their identities," the Israeli military said.
The Times of Israel continues, sharing more purported details and calling the "gay soldiers" photo "misleading":
The newly hip, multimedia-savvy IDF Spokesperson’s Office posted Monday on its Facebook page a photo of two ostensibly gay soldiers, one seeming to belong to the Givati Brigade and the other to the Artillery Corps, holding hands and walking on a city street.
In fact, the two soldiers in the photo are not a couple, only one of the two is gay, and both the soldiers serve in the IDF Spokesperson’s Office.
The picture appears to have been taken on Itamar Ben Avi street in Tel Aviv, around the corner from the Spokesperson’s Office headquarters.
Gay pride is nothing new in Israel, of course. Last week, we told you about Tel Aviv's annual -- and colorful -- gay pride parade. While the military is perfectly able to promote whatever it so chooses, why it would purportedly manufacture an image using "models" is somewhat confusing.