Passport

Israel's New Military Recruiters: Muscleheads, Old Men, Girl Drummers

The Israeli military, hard up for combat volunteers, has taken up an aggressive viral marketing campaign to attract new recruits for its most dangerous roles. And, if first impressions are any indication, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) may want to hire a new P.R. team. The IDF, which has cultivated a reputation as a savvy user of Twitter, Youtube, and even Pinterest, has recently become the subject of Internet mockery after launching a series of videos on Tuesday aimed at coaxing young people into combat roles.

The creators of the videos rely on a less-than-inspired slogan: "That's strong? The IDF is strong!" One of the videos begins with an old man tasting a cup of bitter coffee (pictured above) and asking "That's strong?" before cutting to a montage of combat scenes, rife with the kind of chest-beating imagery of typical of military ads (see any U.S. Army advertisement, ever). The video cuts back to the old man, who delivers that essential tagline: "The IDF is strong." Other videos feature a tattooed bodybuilder and a girl playing the drums ("The IDF is hardcore!").

Watch one below:

 

If this looks to you a touch desperate, you're paying attention. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the IDF ads come amid concerns over declining interest in taking on combat service in the military. While military service remains compulsory for men and women in Israel, the number of new inductees volunteering to serve in elite combat units has dropped from 79.5 percent in 2011 to 70 percent this year. In response to this trend, the IDF approved a major marketing program two months ago with a price tag of 2.8 million. In an interview two weeks ago, an IDF human resources director told the military publication Bamahane that "even at a time when we're counting every shekel, we were prepared to invest in this."

Israel Defense Forces

Passport

John Bolton Either Had an Awful Vacation or Had His Email Hacked

John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, appears to have run into a bit of trouble during a purported trip to the Philippines.

According to an email sent from Bolton's account Tuesday afternoon, the cantankerous former diplomat and his family were robbed at gunpoint in Manila. "Everything was going on fine until last night when we got attacked by some unknown gunmen," he writes in the email. "All our money, phones and credit cards was stolen away including some valuable items, It was a terrible experience but the good thing is they didn't hurt anyone or made away with our passports."

He now, of course, is asking for help in getting back to the United States. "Right now we're financially strapped due to the unexpected robbery attack, Wondering if you can help us with a quick loan to sort our bills and get back home. All we need is ($2,550.00 USD ) or anything you can afford, I promise to refund you in full as soon as I return hopefully tomorrow or next."

Poor John, the man seems to have had a really awful vacation -- or in the words of the pitch-perfect subject line of the email, a "sad trip."

Or his email was just hacked. Here's his plea for help in full:

From: John Bolton [mailto:*****@aol.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 1:56 PM
Subject: Sad Trip..

Greetings. My family and I had a trip visiting (Manila Philippines), everything was going on fine until last night when we got attacked by some unknown gunmen. All our money,phones and credit cards was stolen away including some valuable items, It was a terrible experience but the good thing is they didn't hurt anyone or made away with our passports.

We have reported the incident to the local authorities and the consulate but their response was too casual, we were ask to come back in 2weeks time for investigations to be made proper,But the truth is we can't wait till then as we have just got our return flight booked and is leaving in few hours from now but presently having problems sorting out our bills here and also getting a cab down to the airport, Right now we're financially strapped due to the unexpected robbery attack, Wondering if you can help us with a quick loan to sort our bills and get back home. All we need is ($2,550.00 USD ) or anything you can afford, I promise to refund you in full as soon as I return hopefully tomorrow or next. write back now to let me know what you can do.

Thank You

John Bolton

TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images