Nation Of Misguided Teenagers

“I still don’t understand what I did wrong. Seriously, I don’t understand!” Eden said during a morning radio interview after pictures of her posing next to blindfolded Palestinian detainees were found on her Facebook page.

Of course she doesn’t understand, she spent “the best years” of her life serving in an army of occupation, immersed in a culture that is blind to the humanity of it’s subject population. It’s not a sentiment reserved for the lower ranks, or the middle ranks, it goes all the way up. It’s a mentality where the only people with mothers are people who speak Hebrew. The Israeli army is where youthful experimentation occurs, you get to humiliate, you get to intimidate, and if you are lucky: you get to kill.

“I’ll rephrase my question, Eden, so that perhaps we can learn together how it was wrong…”, the radio host will walk her through it, slowly.

She crossed an invisible line, specifically she embarrassed the IDF, “I hoped there wouldn’t be any media interest” an IDF spokesperson said. But the media showed interest, and that is what turned Eden’s souvenir into “shameful behavior”.

And now Israel’s military, media and political elite must fulfill their solemn role: behave like disappointed adults, and wrinkle their noses in distaste. Another delinquent youth has infiltrated “the most moral army in the world”.

This isn’t of course the first morally corrupt soldier that the IDF has disowned. There are many more, and they have done worse deeds. Mostly these individuals don’t exceed the rank of second lieutenant.

And this is how the IDF keeps it’s legitimacy in it’s own eyes. While the Israeli government and it’s army are accused repeatedly of war crimes and violating human rights, the IDF, through internal inquiry, discovers that all of those heinous acts were committed by the rank and file alone. Where were the brigade and battalion commanders? Where was the regional command? The general staff? They were giving compassionate orders of the utmost morality, but a few teenagers spoiled it for everyone.

“We are a nation surrounded by enemies” Eden tells the the radio host. She doesn’t understand she is outside the fold, she is now a joke. She will repeat all the mantras and clichés she was told that enabled her to see Arabs as less than human. That allowed her to enjoy those army years so much without a hint of remorse or regret. Everyone else will shake their heads: “she doesn’t “get it”, she doesn’t understand how bad this makes us look.

Nation Of Misguided Teenagers

28 thoughts on “Nation Of Misguided Teenagers

  1. If you have the time, you should check “The Lucifer Effect” on Youtube. Very interesting conference about how we react to strong authorities and how terrible things like those prisonners abuse can happen.

  2. Steven says:

    So… She danced to some music and upload that to youtube while on patrol. I’m with her on this one. What is the problem with that?

    If you want to rant against the IDF, whatever, but this seems a pretty weak thing to point at and call bad.

  3. zekopeko says:

    @Steven

    How would you feel if I roughed up your mom/dad/sister/brother, blindfolded and tied them, and then took a photo next to them in such a state while making a duck face and acting as if they were simply an irrelevant part of the background? Would it be perfectly ok for me to do that to your family?

  4. Steven says:

    Again I don’t see the outrage here. If those people should not have been detained, then that would be a problem. If there was good reason to detain them I don’t see the problem.

    Maybe I’m not seeing everything, but we’re not talking about beating people, torture, starving, or other kind of abuse. We’re talking about some pictures.

    If somebody in my family put themselves into a position that they were correctly detained I wouldn’t be overly upset that they also had their picture taken.

  5. @Steven

    “correctly detained”? So in your mind, if someone is bound and blindfolded by uniformed people, it must be legitimate? The whole outcry here is that in the large majority of these cases it is _not_ legitimate, it is just another tool for repressing and pacifying an occupied population.

    If a family member called you from jail, you would immediately assume that they were guilty? They are innocent until they have been proven guilty in court, but you already reached that conclusion, because they are behind bars so they must have done _something_ wrong.

  6. zekopeko says:

    @Steven

    So you see no problem in taking “trophy” pictures of prisoners? Does law enforcement in your country usually blindfold people, keep them in areas obviously not designed for imprisonment and then takes “trophy” photos of them like they are prey that was caught?

    Here is more, the one in this post was tame compared to others: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2010/aug/17/israel-palestinian-territories

    I’m sure you can find a perfect explanation for each and every one of them. Also try to ignore the reoccurring theme in them since it would require you to question your moral compass.

  7. zekopeko says:

    @Flavio

    The atrocities of one do not excuse the other. There is plenty of blood on both nations hands.

  8. Jake says:

    Is there anyway you can keep this stuff off of planet.gnome.org? It’s a technical blog not a political blog.

    1. Jake,

      Planet GNOME is not limited to technical blogging. I tend to write about both about Israel/Palestine and technology in equal proportion, both are political! If this blog turns into a heavy weight Israel/Palestine blog, I’ll make sure to spare those posts from the planet.

  9. Eitan, thanks for posting this. Coming from you, it has a lot more value than if I, for example, had written it.

    I had blogged about Israel/Palestine for a few years and most of the comments dismissed my arguments with the “you don’t understand, you don’t know what it’s like to be here” weak argumentation.

    For anyone coming here to argue this is offtopic on Planet GNOME or any other planet: It’s not. Planet GNOME states, “Planet GNOME is a window into the world, work and lives of GNOME hackers and contributors.” My life is not all about Debian or GNOME. There are a lot more things, including having an opinion on political matters.

    Hopefully the following will be crystal clear:

    From http://live.gnome.org/PlanetGnome:

    Do I have to only blog about GNOME things?

    No. Planet GNOME is a good way to know the contributors. This means we’re happy to have you post about your life, or the latest recipe you cooked (especially if you add a photo!). Keep in mind, though, that if you don’t post anything of interest to most of the community, people will not enjoy your posts.

  10. Jake: At the bottom of http://planet.gnome.org/ there is a “Feeds” section that provides checkboxes (maybe in combination with a cookie I guess). Also there is a way in Firefox by using custom CSS to not display them (don’t remember the exact steps though but it works for me).

    I think it’s imporant to find such posts on Planet Gnome and it’s one reason why I read it, as the Planet was never meant as a “technical blog” and as it’s clearly said so at the top of the page. If you want a “technical blog” only, read http://news.gnome.org/ instead.

  11. Jon says:

    Brilliant and insightful. Its the utmost hypocrisy of the IDF to say “oh well this was just some silly teenager” when all the ideas this girl had about arabs were exactly what the IDF taught her.

  12. João says:

    Eitan,
    you are the one watching the photo as a trophy scenario, not her.
    She is is just a teenager posing during her duty, just as you see thousand of such photos from teenagers on different jobs/duties. Being a soldier does not turn a teenager into a mature, considerable woman.
    Participating on the photo was inconsiderable because others like you watching that photo would feel it as humiliation, that is what she failed to understand. Anyway she was not seeking to, or damaging in anyway more than her duty requires to.

  13. Peteris Krisjanis says:

    While I can understand outrage, I want to see bigger picture. And bigger picture is still – lot of Palestinians wants Israel to be wiped out, and lot of Jihadists are ready to help them. You can criticize Israel as much as you want – and all probably will be valid reasons to do so – but it won’t still solve main issue here.

    Girl did wrong, and it is bad that she doesn’t get it why it was wrong. But that’s about it. Israel is still at war with their neighborhood. There are still lot of people who celebrate that if some peaceful Jews get killed. They require respect for themselves, their lives, their religion, but they are not ready to give it to others. That’s what I am sad about. That’s why while I criticize Israel on lot of actions, I still can understand them.

    On positive site, it was very informative and interesting post and I welcome such posts on GNOME planet – yes, it is not about free software, but it is stuff we seemingly all care about.

  14. tuxy says:

    I do not condone this behaviour but the girl’s action is not as bad as Islamists showing off their latest beheading, and do not tell me that because they are not representing a country or government that they are not misguided or have any responsibility at all. I would want to believe that when one launches rockets into cities with the hope of taking as many innocent lives as possible is as misguided as anything else, I would believe that walking into a market place with mostly innocent people and blowing up as many as possible is a blind disregard for the sanctity of human life, the life of fellow Muslims at that, I would also believe that blowing up people looking for work is more outrageous than occupying a piece of land in order to protect ones country from such attacks. I also believe that one nation calling for the destruction of another recognized sovereign nation in whatever form is irresponsible and misguided, but alas only Israel and a few other western powers must take responsibility for their actions and only the IDF and a few western Military operatives have to be careful of their actions.

    Before you start talking about occupation just remember why there is an occupation in the first place. I strongly believe Hamas is more blind to the humanity of the people that elected it. please criticize the woman for her silly behaviour and leave the other sentiments out if you can not look at them fairly. And by all means when there is wrong doing on the other side please be as vociferous as you are now, this is what is lacking in people like you, a sense of fairness.

  15. KaKaRoTo says:

    Thanks Eitan for an interesting post!
    @Jon : nicely said!

    @João: her ‘duty’ as you call it is not serving burgers at the local fast food, her ‘duty’ is the humiliation and abuse of human beings. That’s what makes the difference. And I have absolutely no idea how someone would not see this as a humiliating trophy picture!

    @Peteris: You don’t see the bigger picture.. yes, eliminating Israel is the final goal, but it doesn’t mean wiping out every living being there. Erasing Israel off the map, or destroying Israel or wiping it out, simply mean that the terrorist and illegal state of Israel should be dismantled, Palestine restored, give the right to the Palestinians to return to their land and freedom be given to all. And it can all be done without any bloodshed. And no, Israel doesn’t have “neighbors” for it to be in a war with them, it is an occupation force in a place where it does not belong, it didn’t get bad neighbors, it *created* displaced ‘owners’ and made them ‘neighbors’ by taking their place.

    @tuxy: I think you’re so far off that it won’t even matter to try to reason with you. Yes her actions were bad, and yes, terrorists/extremists showing off their beheading is also bad, and I don’t see anyone saying the contrary and I have no idea why you’re stating that. I see no mention of Hamas anywhere so why bring it up? About your sentence : “I would also believe that blowing up people looking for work is more outrageous than occupying a piece of land..”, there are so many things wrong in there that I don’t know where to start. No, there is nothing worse than what Israel is doing, it not only occupies a piece of land, but it also kills and humiliates the Palestinian population every day. When you say “people looking for work”, you probably mean Israeli Jews, right? Because when it is Palestinians that are looking for a job (because their offices got bulldozed, and their economy destroyed by Israel), and then they receive a missile over their head, that doesn’t count, right ? Israel does both, occupy the land and “blows up innocent people looking for a job”
    And no, I’m sorry but Israel is not a “recognized sovereign nation”. If I stole your car, then my wife ‘confirms’ it’s mine, it doesn’t make it mine, when the accomplices of the crime are the one recognizing Israel as the sovereign state, it doesn’t makes it any more real. Israel will only be a recognized sovereign state (never) when everyone, including Palestinian truly recognize it as such, and that can never happen as long as Israel is representing death and occupation.

    Sorry Eitan for this rant at your zionist readers, but sometimes, it’s hard to hold it back!

  16. Craig says:

    It’s interesting that one could condone IDF’s actions based on Palestinian’s attacks, while perhaps not considering that consistently targeting admittedly innocent Palestinian *civilians* at check points and *in their own homes* to possibly identify a single ‘suspect’ is not only encouraged it’s (based on reported military testimony in court proceedings) actually ordered.

    We can spend a lot of time here arguing who has done the greater evil – but the fact is – both sides are living in fear, both sides are being terrorized by the other, both are suffering unjustifiable civilian losses or at least blaming the other for the state of things right now, both are fighting back in justifiable and equally unjustifiable ways… an extremely historically and emotionally complex situation.

    So I don’t want to step back and look at the big picture … because to me, that’s just avoiding connection emotionally with a tragedy that this young woman believes it’s OK to take some candid shots using quite likely innocent and unfairly detained people at their most vulnerable as props and interesting details in her shots — there is a loss of empathy and respect for human rights, and the people who encouraged and ordered this use her as a scape goat rather than risk ’embarrassment’ and taking accountability for this.

  17. Craig says:

    (and yes, this should be equally applied to the other side … but that isn’t being discussed at this moment, terrible behaviour is not justified by terrible behaviour — at some point, both sides are going to have to face that this situation isn’t working for anyone, and isn’t getting anyone anywhere)

  18. tuxy says:

    sure right, beheading largely innocent persons and deliberately blowing up innocent people should not be justified, pity we see such little if any condemnation from you and others like yourself, that is the point, not what is conveniently discussed here.

  19. tuxy says:

    KaKaRoTo, nary a nation on earth by your definition would be fit to be called a recognized sovereign nation, and please learn to distinguish intent from mistakes, yes I am far off from the nonsense you are spouting, and yes do not bother to reason with me if you are unreasonable and unjust. and sorry to disappoint you I am no Zionist, neither am I a Jew, I am not Israeli or American.
    Do not apologize to Eitan, just hold back the rant especially if it is an asinine one such as the one you posted.

  20. OK! Since this is my blog, I am going to get the last word and close this post for comments.

    My original post was about the dehumanizing process that Palestinians are subject to by Israeli society, and how this Facebook incident has triggered hypocritical reactions from Israel’s elite who are ultimately responsible for Israel’s moral corruption.

    I feel uncomfortable with a lot of the language used here. I don’t know how this conversation got to be about “eliminating” states, or even about terrorism. I also don’t like the term “zionist” used in a derogatory way.

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