Israeli soldier mocks Palestinian prisoners in Facebook photos

Israel/Palestine
on 55 Comments
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Two photos from Eden Abergil’s Facebook profile. (Photo credit: Dimi’s Notes)kissyface

Highlighting the cold indifference and cruelty that has come to characterize the Israeli occupation, a recently discharged soldier has posted photos of herself smiling as she sits besides blindfolded Palestinian prisoners.

Eden, the young Israeli woman, posted the pictures on Facebook and titled the album "Army… the most beautiful time of my life. :)" One shows her squatting before a group of bound Palestinians, presumably at or near a West Bank checkpoint, a smirk playing on her face. In another, Eden sits on a cement block next to a prisoner, whose eyes are covered with a strip of cloth. Her head titled upwards, she looks down her nose imperiously towards him.

Speaking to the Israeli daily Ynet, an Israeli army spokesman commented, "This is shameless behavior by the soldier. In light of the fact that she was discharged last year, all of the details have been turned over to the commanders for further attention."

Yishai Menuhin, the director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, a local NGO, commented to Ynet, "These types of pictures reflect the customary norms of IDF soldiers… and the treatment given to Palestinian detainees."

The comments on the photos left by Eden and her friends are equally disturbing as they, at best, show utter disregard for the Palestinian prisoners, and at worst, downright mock them.

One friend commented that Eden was "sexiest like that." Eden responded, "Yes, I know. LOL… What a day it was, look how he completes my pictures. I wonder if he’s got Facebook. I have to tag him the picture. LOL."

First exposed by the blog Sachim, other Israelis expressed shock and disgust with both the photos and the responses left by Eden and her friends.

Journalist and blogger Dimi Reider wrote:

"These pictures really do speak for themselves; of course, [Eden] is no better or worse than thousands of other Israeli soldiers, and I’d like to hope a few years from now she’ll be appalled, rather than amused by the memories. We may and should cut slack to the effect of conflict on a young person’s sensitivity and moral standards – [Eden] by no means should be scapegoated for all excesses of the IDF – and remember efforts by separate individuals, even in uniform, to make an intolerable situation more bearable."

The picture I see in Eden’s photos? An army that has forgotten the other’s humanity–and has lost its own humanity in the process.

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55 Responses

  1. Seham
    August 16, 2010, 10:33 am

    To think, Americans get tax breaks from sending people like her free pizza.

    • MarkF
      August 16, 2010, 12:42 pm

      We can also get tax breaks sending them free donuts & coffee too. You just can’t make this stuff up.

      I’d say she’s the equivilant of Lynndie England, the thumbs-up Gitmo guard, but England didn’t set up a facebook page to show off her behavior.

      • Doctor Pi
        August 16, 2010, 10:35 pm

        Lynndie England wasn’t a Gitmo guard. She was a guard at Abu Graib prison in Baghdad:

        link to en.wikipedia.org

      • MarkF
        August 17, 2010, 7:10 am

        Yes, Abu Graib, thanks for the correction.

  2. Berthe
    August 16, 2010, 10:36 am

    The Israelis are so arrogant and selfish. Its mindboggling to think that probably 90% of the nice American Jews I’ve ever known are OK with this crap. Probably, they’d be quick to make some stupid irrelevant slam on CHINA! if asked about any of it, or Darfur, the Zionist created distraction campaign.

  3. Don
    August 16, 2010, 11:03 am

    “We may and should cut slack to the effect of conflict on a young person’s sensitivity and moral standards…”

    Really? Could the same be said for young German soldiers who humiliated Jews during the Nazi era? And if not, why not?

    I have never come across a written statement by anyone suggesting that those young Nazis be given the same “understanding”.

  4. Les
    August 16, 2010, 11:07 am

    What is the significance that it is a female doing this?

    • Oscar
      August 16, 2010, 11:56 am

      The significance is that it’s a human being doing this . . . to other human beings. The fact that it’s a female is irrelevant.

      • Citizen
        August 16, 2010, 1:16 pm

        It reveals what gender equality means, both the good and the bad?

      • Les
        August 16, 2010, 2:19 pm

        Lynndie England, United States Army reservist, did much the same at Abu Ghraib, but much has been blamed on the limits of her mental abilities. Army Specialist Alyssa Peterson refused to participate in the torture at Abu Ghraib and committed suicide.

    • lobewyper
      August 16, 2010, 7:02 pm

      My take: it says to the Palestinian male prisoner, “You are not even the equal of our women soldiers.” (I. e., “You are a total wuss!”)

  5. pineywoodslim
    August 16, 2010, 11:50 am

    I don’t believe such attitudes shown by the Israeli soldier are in any way unique to her or to soldiers in general. I think it is in the nature of warfare–an ugly business. Nothing unique either about the hurrahs from the US helicopter crew when they strafed the Iraqi crowd as shown on the recent Wilileaks video. That’s what war’s about. People cheer when they “win”.

    • Tom Pessah
      August 16, 2010, 4:03 pm

      not unique to her, but you make it sound so natural and normal. What about holy wars against Americans or Israelis? would you say it’s just an “ugly business” when some civilians get blown to little pieces, but oh well, it’s in the nature of (holy) warfare?

      • Donald
        August 16, 2010, 5:42 pm

        pineywoodslim is just describing what people (or a great many people) are like when it comes to war. They cheer at things that should make them vomit and they dehumanize the enemy. It’s true of Westerners and it’s true of non-Westerners, it’s true when the cause is just and when it isn’t.

        The Israeli cause, of course, is not just, as I’m fairly sure pineywoodslim agrees (unless I’m remembering his/her position incorrectly). And in this case the Israeli soldier isn’t under fire–she’s enforcing a brutal occupation, so she’s got less excuse than someone who is in a kill or be killed situation.

      • MRW
        August 16, 2010, 7:44 pm

        Look at her. At her age and that out of shape? She doesn’t have the discipline to survive a war. Physically or mentally, obviously. Look at her. Her uniform is sloppy. Her shoes are scuffed and unpolished. (Entirely excusable in a time of war.) She has a pink netted handkerchief in her pocket. There’s not the slightest sense that she ever went through boot camp, or if she did, that’s damned poor training. No wonder the Israelis want our boys to fight their wars for them if this is their issue.

        and remember efforts by separate individuals, even in uniform, to make an intolerable situation more bearable.

        No. Not acceptable. What’s intolerable about it? She’s probably a guard.

      • demize
        August 16, 2010, 11:28 pm

        Excuse me, where is the “war”? Wars are of opposing armies, this is an occupation. As for the callous cruelty, I can only hope one day she is in the mirror position and remembers this behaviour, maybe as a hostage or prisoner, I’m a prick like that. I get viscerally disturbed by images like this and my first response is anger and the desire to retribute.

      • Donald
        August 17, 2010, 9:01 am

        “Excuse me, where is the “war”? Wars are of opposing armies, this is an occupation.”

        I already said that.

      • pineywoodslim
        August 16, 2010, 8:58 pm

        What makes what I said sound “so natural and normal” is the ease and frequency with which combatants engage in this sort of behavior. Is it natural? I don’t believe it is, I think it is learned. Is it normal? Appears to be in warfare—regardless of the type of war.

    • Avi
      August 16, 2010, 5:32 pm

      People cheer when they “win”.

      Such cheers come from a deep sense of arrogance and righteousness. I don’t see it as being a natural part of warfare, but a natural part of western psyche.

  6. eljay
    August 16, 2010, 11:57 am

    Eden does not appear to be humanizing “the Other” or making “better wheels”. She must be “generation to generation” fear-scarred. Poor girl. Hamas and other maximalist Palestinians are clearly to blame for this.

  7. LanceThruster
    August 16, 2010, 12:52 pm

    I just rewatched Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” and this reminds a bit me of the guy getting evicted from his home of 5 generations. He said something to the effect of, “I know why people go off the deep end and start wasting people. I’m not advocating it or saying I’d do it. But I understand it. If bad things happen to these people (the bank crooks in his case), they deserve it.”

  8. marc b.
    August 16, 2010, 2:22 pm

    let me make the cranky, generational comment on this post: why must 20-somethings advertise everything they do as if they were on television 24 hours a day? and doesn’t this attitude influence their conduct? there was a brief article in the NYT Arts section this past Sunday describing the gaping disconnect between the reality of people’s lives and the pictures they paint of ‘real life’ events on their Facebook postings. it’s delusional.

    • RoHa
      August 16, 2010, 8:23 pm

      I too am a grumpy old fart, and I too totally fail to understand what Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter are for.

      • marc b.
        August 17, 2010, 11:00 am

        roha, i think that they are, in part, a vehicle for people to feel as if they are performing on TV. everyone gets to be a star. but if that is your intent, you have stepped out of reality. *shakes cane in indignation*

  9. ElSaltador
    August 16, 2010, 2:24 pm

    First of all I would like to make it clear that I am not trolling. Wht I am telling is very relevant to the Zionist message of hate,EXCLUSIVELY reserved for Muslims everywhere.

    The English Defence League, the most violently fascist English group,that is wildly popular among many English kids,including not only whites,but fringe sections of Hindus,Sikhs,and its and bits of virtually everybody but Muslims,have now a Jewish division. As ludicrous as it may seem ,here is the proof…….straight from the horse’s mouth >>>

    Press Release from EDL Jewish Division
    link to englishdefenceleague.org

    A little overview

    link to mwcnews.net

    Haaretz covers it here
    link to haaretz.com

    Now this defintely deserves to be highlighted,more so on this blog,as a proper example of what kind of people Zionists have degenerated into. Or perhaps they were like this always.

    Interestingly,right wing kooks on this side of the Atlantic are lauding it. Islamophobes like Robert Spencer and Pamella Geller (hell yeah) are all ga-ga over it. I am sure all those anti-mosque sickos and Tea Party morons are having the same views.

    Some links from those Islamophobes themselves
    link to jihadwatch.org

    link to atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com

    link to atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com

    link to atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com

    • Diane Mason
      August 16, 2010, 8:15 pm

      The EDL is a natural ally for Zionism. They share a militant ideology that says national identity is a preexisting reality deriving from biological descent from a founding “tribe”, rather than a changeable thing that is created and re-created as different peoples become part of a nation; and that consequently people who don’t have the right ethnic Stuff can’t be equal participants in the nation. With a common underlying ideology and a common Muslim scapegoat to attack, the fact that the English far right has been historically anti-semitic becomes an inconvenience that is easily jettisoned.

  10. Chu
    August 16, 2010, 2:53 pm

    I wish I could say this is outrageous, but it’s just
    another disrespectful soldier, who was stupid
    enough to post these pictures on facebook.

    She doesn’t realize how low-class she appears,
    as it’s reminiscent of the smugness of the soldiers
    at Abu Ghirab prison.

  11. potsherd
    August 16, 2010, 3:41 pm

    Look at these photos in conjunction with Laura Durkay’s account of being interrogated.

  12. DICKERSON3870
    August 16, 2010, 3:51 pm

    RE: “a recently discharged soldier has posted photos of herself smiling as she sits besides blindfolded Palestinian prisoners” – Guarnieri
    MY COMMENT: Look on the bright side; it could have been worse!
    FROM HAARETZ, 11/13/08:

    (excerpt)…Last week, soldiers from the Golani infantry brigade posted a video on YouTube depicting a blindfolded Palestinian being forced to repeat phrases in Hebrew as the soldiers manning the checkpoint laugh in the background. 
    One of the lines is: “Golani will bring you a log to stick up your ass.” 
    As the detainee repeats the words, the soldiers are heard laughing raucously in the background…

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1037217.html

    • DICKERSON3870
      August 16, 2010, 7:08 pm

      P.S. FROM A BBC ARTICLE, 11/07/08:

      (excerpt)…The video shows a bearded Palestinian detainee, blindfolded, and apparently kneeling close to a high concrete barrier.
      Around him are a group of Israeli soldiers, some of whom are jeering. One soldier goads the blindfolded man into repeating what he is saying.
      The taunt ends with the words: “Golani will bring you a log to stick up your ass.”
      As the man repeats it, the soldiers can be heard laughing loudly…

      ENTIRE ARTICLE WITH THE VIDEO EMBEDDED - link to news.bbc.co.uk

  13. Avi
    August 16, 2010, 3:53 pm
    • Chaos4700
      August 16, 2010, 8:07 pm

      I know, really. That’s what lept to my mind upon seeing this.

      Incredible. I’d say I’d have thought people like this would know better after an incident like that, but it’s not like this sort of behavior is punishable, let alone socially unacceptable in Israel.

      • Avi
        August 17, 2010, 12:33 am

        That image was on the cover of TIME — if I recall correctly — a few years back. I had just purchased the magazine and it was sitting with the cover page facing up on the passenger seat of my car. It was during rush hour traffic and the drive was long, so the photo was staring at me and I kept thinking about the contrast between the smiling soldier and the dead body laying next to her. The soldier didn’t look like a monster, no more and no less a monster than any other person you might encounter throughout the day. But, the thought that a normal looking person does — routinely, as we have seen over the last few decades — commit such egregious and inhumane acts was unsettling. How many ‘monsters’ like her are there lurking in the average city or town, I wondered?

        It may have been a hot day, but I was nauseous and sick to my stomach when I got home. And the photo remained etched in my memory.

  14. Shingo
    August 16, 2010, 4:07 pm

    Another day, anotehr violation of the Geneva Convention on human rights.

  15. radii
    August 16, 2010, 4:17 pm

    a picture truly is worth 1000 words:

    this image reflects so many things

    the desensitization of generations of israelis to the suffering they cause

    the process of “blooding” whereby IDF and other israeli military and intelligence agencies inure young people to violence by having them perform it soon and often

    the devaluation of human life and basic moral conduct

    the pornographization of media – whereby nothing is sacred and the form of presentation is not considered – just raw data (words, images, video) is pushed out there without context

    the quiet dignity of the occupied who patiently try to wait it all out with a minimum of harm to themselves and resistance to the oppressor

    the complete vulgarization of culture the past 20-30 years due to many factors but mostly easy access to powerful electronic entertainments that have diverted young minds from education and understanding toward primping, preening and grandstanding

    David Bowie has a great line in one of his songs as ugly as a teenage millionaire, pretending it’s a whiz-kid world which, for me, says so much about Gen-X and Gen-Y – so much smugness with so little to back it up

    this hideous woman IDF soldier and her heartless Facebook posting is emblematic of our times and of israel’s ongoing serial war-crimes

  16. Lexikon
    August 16, 2010, 5:56 pm

    Well, so much for the “most noble army in the world”.

    This is IDF; simply as that.

    • Taxi
      August 17, 2010, 6:55 am

      IDF = Israeli Defeated Army

      • Lexikon
        August 17, 2010, 8:00 am

        More like Israeli Dehumanizer Force.

  17. Surcouf
    August 16, 2010, 6:49 pm

    Hum! This is getting more exposure than I originally thought.
    The Lede blog by Robert Mackey on the NY Times website is featuring this as well. Even our favorite NY Times journalist, Ethan Bronner, has an article about it.

    Israeli Bloggers Copy Controversial Images From Facebook

    Ex-Israeli Soldier’s Photos Condemned

    • Avi
      August 16, 2010, 7:17 pm

      Both Mackey’s and Bronner’s articles are attempting to convey the same message that which one of the comments to Mackey’s article attempts to relate. It reads: They are becoming more and more like American soldiers.

      They are becoming…..

      Dollars to doughnuts that message was posted by a Zionist shill.

    • RoHa
      August 17, 2010, 8:02 am

      Reported on SBS as well.

      link to sbs.com.au

  18. Avi
    August 16, 2010, 6:57 pm

    First exposed by the blog Sachim, other Israelis expressed shock and disgust with both the photos and the responses left by Eden and her friends.

    That Israelis are “shocked” at such photos and such behavior is quite telling. I’m not sure who’s fooling whom, Israelis or those who are shocked at this behavior. One thing is certain, it shows how much cognitive dissonance the average Israeli employs to deal with the occupation, the subjugation of an entire people all the while, sitting safely at a Tel-Aviv cafe sipping coffee and enjoying the summer sun. As this shows, the distance is not merely cognitive. Israelis now live a sheltered life, detached from the cruelties of the occupation, as they live in the equivalent of gated communities.

    • MRW
      August 16, 2010, 7:49 pm

      Shocked, my ass. They’re probably creating youtube sing-alongs to glorify this girl.

    • Elliot
      August 16, 2010, 8:06 pm

      Avi –
      It’s no different than any other war. This behavior should come as no shock to any Israeli. They all have a family member of the daughter of a friend who has either behaved this way or has witnessed it. It’s a willful pretense at creating a cocoon. Standard operating procedure for any civilian population whose children are waging war. As you well know, in Israel this is more glaring because the front line is in the backyard of the home front.

      • Avi
        August 16, 2010, 11:13 pm

        It’s a cocoon for sure.

        As you well know, in Israel this is more glaring because the front line is in the backyard of the home front.

        Precisely. And I suppose the wall provides a semblance of geographic distance that which helps the occupiers in creating that cocoon.

        syvanen has it right. That such a young punk has that power over a grown man, probably an elderly, is disgusting. If that were my father, or my grandfather or my uncle or brother, I don’t think I could let such an incident go. This kind of humiliation is just all too common and for the life of me I have no idea how the Palestinians put up with this crap. But they do, and somehow manage to stay sane and have families.

        It’s not an exaggeration to say that there’s a Gandhi in every Palestinian. Otherwise, how else could anyone explain such resilience and tenacity in the face of a 43 years old injustice?

    • syvanen
      August 16, 2010, 9:31 pm

      My reaction to their being ‘shocked’ was that one of their own soldiers could be so insensitive as to exposing to the rest of the world how they treated their Palestinian neighbors. In the good old days (30 to 60 years back) the Israelis were quite careful to hide their true feelings. It is impossible to imagine Ben Gurian or Abba Eban revealing to their American supporters what they really felt about the Palestinians.

      I had a similar reaction to these images as did radii. There is something communicated in these photos that cannot be described in words. What came to my mind was the child soldiers in Africa and Cambodia that terrorized their elders. Here we see a child soldier humiliating Palestinian adults, as if the respect they should have on the basis of experience means nothing in the face of youthful Zionist aggression. It is so racist — Israeli children have dominion over any gray haired Palestinian.

      • Elliot
        August 17, 2010, 7:14 am

        Reminds me of the humiliation workers receive. I’m involved with worker justice locally. The top complaint of menial workers (after the obvious one that they make only $8.25 an hour) is the lack of respect they receive from managers. The way a 20-something manager addresses someone who could be their grandparent, as if that worker were a child.

  19. Elliot
    August 16, 2010, 7:20 pm

    In the second picture, notice the plastic tie that she is pointing at the bound man. The analogy to Abu Ghraib is pertinent (although the humiliation here is not quite as bad). The dominatrix image is clearly in these pictures.
    The pictures are also emblematic of Israel’s total domination of Palestinian life. The young Israeli playfully mocking the bound, blind, older Palestinian.
    Yet another one of the awful costs of war – boys and girls are indoctrinated and implicated in a set of perverted values and crimes, before they are old enough to figure stuff out. No different than the gangs that demand that novices perform a crime as initiation.

  20. Dan Crowther
    August 16, 2010, 7:43 pm

    Such cheers come from a deep sense of arrogance and righteousness. I don’t see it as being a natural part of warfare, but a natural part of western psyche.

    – Avi

    I agree. Interesting that Facebook is largely absent from the conversation about “what would/could drive people to act this way.” To me, social network sites like that have lead to a “I can top that” mentality among their users, to the detriment of people’s sensitivities and sense of respect for self/others.

  21. thankgodimatheist
    August 16, 2010, 10:16 pm

    The tip of the tip of the iceberg..If this is what they would happily show on Facebook, just think of what they would never want to show anywhere.

  22. syvanen
    August 16, 2010, 11:21 pm

    just think of what they would never want to show anywhere

    Painful to contemplate, but you might be right.

  23. seafoid
    August 17, 2010, 8:29 am

    What was most striking for me was the second photo. The comparison of the footwear. A poor Palestinian man in sandals versus a Jewish woman with military boots. A stupid Jewish women who thanks to the economic system lords it over the man. Why ?
    Israel use to hide this stuff very successfully. Now the younger generation wants to show off and they show off their values. It’s fascinating. How long more can Israel stumble along in this way?

  24. LanceThruster
    August 17, 2010, 9:46 am

    Olive drab is not a good color for her.

    Just sayin’.

  25. Mooser
    August 17, 2010, 10:01 am

    This type of hasbara is Mya Guarneri’s specialty. It’s a delicate, sophisticated operation, and she’s an expert at it, with Shmuel coming in a distant second. This is how it works: You pick some aspect of the occupation which is distasteful, but not lethal, like in this case, the strutting of soldiers over the powerless. Than you pile it on, and talk about “losing humanity” and stuff like that. Naturally, since the behavior pictured is distasteful, but not lethal, it’s impossible for the reader not to feel as if it’s Eden who is in some sense being victimised, since everyone can empathise it.
    It also has the wonderful effect, as you lard it on, of making people think “this is the worst thing you can find in the occupation? A soldier who is distasteful? Gee, that isn’t so bad” Mission accomplished! I haven’t read them, but I’m pretty sure Witty’s comments will support my point.

    Please, don’t get on my case, and let me state right away that I do not think they are doing it on purpose.
    I know, I know, us anti-Zionists are gonna turn Israel upside down, try to see justice done, and to whatever extent is possible, homes and land returned. But we are going to do this without ever getting mad at, or being suspicious of, or ever taking an Israeli at anything other than face value.
    Because if Israelis have to actually suffer, even their reputations, the whole anti-Zionism thing is off!
    Or maybe BDS will come to Mondoweiss someday.

    • Mooser
      August 17, 2010, 10:02 am

      As Shmuel once told me, Judaism is a “we” thing. The more I read Mondoweiss, the more I believe him.

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