What the Israeli soldier facebook photos tell us
I’m in a huge hurry to get a train, but couldn’t not use these few minutes to address this one news story from the last few days: an Israeli soldier’s photos of herself posing with blindfolded Palestinian men that have been posted to facebook. Whilst the IDF seems determined to make this “an isolated incident”, I think it shows us far too much to simply pass it by.
The way these pictures seem to show someone proud of their work and having a great time show something of the way a violent state normalises such degrading treatment. Where the Israeli PR machine uses words like regrettable, to those on the frontline, its normal, and it can be fun. This might be an isolated incident, but it is a candid view, a look through a window, onto what is really going on.
If I had time I might throw around the language of Azar’s theory of Protracted Social Conflict (conflicts that go on to the extent that they are a part of who their participants are, and in which people define their lives around hatred, rather than some starting grievance, and how this ingraining of war raises children for whom there is little doubt that the other is somehow differently human, and therefore not going to be hurt by some or other action, not properly going to feel it.
If the Israeli government and defence forces really want to claim to be tackling this behaviour, they must start right from the very beginning. They must transform their existence and tear down the physical and emotional barriers they are building to separate themselves from the Palestinians. They must work to co-educate Israeli and Palestinian children and to engender some respect from a young age. Otherwise, they will continue to raise the kind of violent generations that will occasionally do something this embarrassing.
Yes this was rushed, but I think it had to be said.