Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Move Over Eden Abergil. New Facebook “Souvenir Pictures” of Bound Palestinian Civilians

Update: Ynet has now published the story with the pictures (blurred, unlike the ones you will find here)

Second Update: At the request of my source, I published the blurred pictures. But, for what it's worth, the IDF person posing with the gun is female.

So Eden Abergil, recently discharged from the IDF, poses with bound Palestinian civilians and then posts them on her Facebook page under the title "IDF – the Best Time of My Life." She sees nothing wrong with that.

"I still don't understand what's wrong," Abergil told Army Radio on Thursday, saying that the "pictures were taken in good will, there was not statement in them."

The former IDF soldier said the pictures, which she said were of Gazans who had been arrested while attempting to crossover into Israel, were meant to depict a "military experience," and were not intended to injure the detainees.

So what if she pretended to kiss them and her friends thought it sexy? (Note to readers: the pictures have been blurred – probably because of the military censor -- to protect Eden Abergil's identity. Needless to say, nobody , especially Eden, thinks that the civilians' identity needs protecting.)

What I don't understand is the IDF's response, "On the face of it the behavior exhibited by the soldier is base and crude." That reminds me of Captain Renault's, "I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling here" in Rick's Café, right before he pockets his winnings. Come on, IDF Spokespeople – taking souvenir pictures of bound Palestinians to show the gang/hevreh is as Israeli as felafel, oops, victory albums. When the IDF veterans group "Breaking the Silence" had its first photo exhibition in 2004, pictures like that were included. Once again, the IDF put a show of being shocked; once again nobody really cared. OK, so it's not required, but has anybody ever been disciplined for it? Can't it be construed as part of the IDF's attempt to establish deterrence, to show these people who are the boss.

Some people will say, "Hey, Jerry, Eden is not leading around a naked man by his genitals." I suppose we have to thank our lucky stars that "the most moral army in the world" doesn't post those photos on Facebook.

But how about these new ones, courtesy of "Breaking the Silence"?


Their title: "The Norm that IDF Spokesperson Avi Benayahu Wants to Deny"

Oh, I should add that soon I may be required by Israeli law to mention that Breaking the Silence receives support from European states that support human rights (the bill passed its first reading yesterday). Note to Breaking the Silence – try to get funding from Jewish gambling moguls and slumlords. You won't have to report that.

(Hat tip to Gerald Steinberg's NGO monitor for helping to delegitimize Israel, one law at a time.)



Peter Schwartz said...

Call me callous, but the FB pictures you link to show an Israeli soldier next to a wounded (Palestinian?) on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance.

Another one seems to show a soldier administering an IV.

The others don't seem all that atypical of soldier pictures from the battlefield.

But perhaps I'm missing something here. I'm not trying to make excuses for the IDF...

Jerry Haber said...

Peter, think the point is that these are "souvenir" or "trophy" pictures. They have no military necessity. And that is an invasion of privacy at best and ghoulish at worse.

Jerry Haber said...

And surely some of the pictures are worse than that.

Anonymous said...

The photos of the soldiers should not have been obscured; those of the abused prisoners should have been.

Elliot said...

Jerry - Thank you for continuing to speak clearly about these kinds of abuses. The comparison to Abu Ghraib stops with the pictures themselves. Israelis are so inured to these images that there will be no meaningful response.
It's sad to see the country destroying the moral life of these boys and girls by throwing generation after generation into this army. After the indoctrination comes complicity in the state's crimes and then they will likely never break free.

Eric said...

It is not the pictures -- it is the lack of real questioning of "the most moral army in the world" and the role of compulsory IDF service pushing Israel further to the authoritarian right. It is a miracle of the Jewish people that the nation-army-state idea that emerged in the latter days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire did not take root in Israel the way it did in much of central Europe.Or perhaps it just had to wait until the Holocaust was sufficiently in the past to be used as a reason for a nation-army-state not a warning of what happens if a nation-army-state is unchecked by sense of liberal democracy and minority rights .

lives in israel said...

"It is not the pictures -- it is the lack of real questioning of "the most moral army in the world" and the role of compulsory IDF service pushing Israel further to the authoritarian right. "

as usual the myopia on this blog is breathtaking. No mention that she was dismissed from the army (any future reserve duty), that the idf stated that since she is no longer in active duty she can't be subject to military justice but would have been otherwise, the calls for a civil prosecution, the massive outrage expressed on israeli websites including the israeli press. One example a major piece in the shabbat yediot labelling her the banality of evil and decrying the impact of the occupation on society. No no non only one view of israel here: a myopic callous, uniformly totalitarian society facing a palestinian society that follows due process (like the pa round up of 350 with no habeus corpus not to mention hamas' social policing and imprisonment for religious infractions). The amazing thing is that people here lap it up and then accuse the other side of intellectual close mindedness. Is this the methodology you use in your academic research and in the classroom ?

Jerry Haber said...

An extraordinary comment. You manage, in the space of a few lines, to appeal to contradictory positions for support.

First, you say that Israeli society is genuinely disgusted about a Eden Ebergil, whom you treat as a "rotten apple" and not as expressive of a widespread phenonomenon.

And then you appeal to an excellent article,which I will blog about, which tries to explain the moral denial and self-deception of the Israeli public regarding the Occupation.

You also fail to cite Aluf Benn's Haaretz piece, "When I was Eden Ebergil" in which he basically said that this behavior has always been the norm, he behaved like her, and what of it? Or Gideon Levy's powerful rebuttal to him.

The point of the article you appeal to is to explain why many(though not all -- look at the Hebrew talkbacks) have been appalled by Eden Ebergil's pictures, and yet still believe that this humiliation of Palestinians is not the norm -- when there is enormous counterevidence to show otherwise. The answer in the article is that the deep denial that the article spoke about.

And finally, with regard to methodology. Look *when* I posted what I did -- I am not responsible for updating everything I write. In this case, the Ebergil, and its aftermath was extraordinarily ordinary. What was less ordinary -- and what was impressive for its honesty -- was the Aluf Benn article, and the article by Gitit Ginat that you referred to.

In fact, if you read the article carefully, you will see that your predictable defensive response is also anticipated and explained by Schnell and Greenberg.

And, for the record, I think the PA stinks in upholding human rights, and I have said that repeatedly.

Read what the article says about the moral consistency of the "extreme left" and you will see how they anticipated my response to you.

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