Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cruel and stupid ...

That seems to me the only way of describing the actions and reactions of the female Israeli soldier who posted photos to Facebook of herself posing in front of bound and blindfolded Palestinian detainees. Her comments to Israeli media seem to indicate that she really doesn't understand the significance of her actions.
"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 no 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.

During the Army Radio interview, Abergil repeatedly said that it had never occurred to her that "the picture would be problematic," asking interviewer Ilana Dayan whether the media asked for detainees permission when they film them.

It's interesting to note that she doesn't see any statement in the photos she posted, or in the comments she later wrote on Facebook. This speaks to something that I have observed among some Israelis; a kind of ignorance and profound immaturity amongst a certain segment of the population.

Some have argued that this behavior is a result of Israel's control of the territories and the Palestinians. I'm not so sure. I have seen some Israelis behaving in equally crass ways to each other. Israelis are notoriously blunt, and will often speak their mind without considering the impact of their words or actions on other people.

Many Israelis simply believe it is more important to be straightforward than to be sensitive. The merits of this line of thinking are highly debatable.

The IDF has an important role to serve and valid reasons to be in the West Bank and Gaza. Detaining Palestinian's who attempt to cross into Israel, as apparently these individuals were doing, should be rightly prevented.

However, Israeli society must ensure that the task is carried out with appropriate sensitivity to the Palestinian population. In this case, it is clear that we failed.

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