More evidence that Israel’s image has dramatically shifted

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 28 Comments

Robert Mackey of the Times did a good piece today about the former Israeli soldier’s facebook photos of humiliated Palestinian prisoners. He mentions Breaking the Silence’s collection of similar photos, he quotes a Palestinian on routine humiliation. He leads with the former soldier’s statement that she feels like she did nothing wrong. 

A commenter named M. Junaid from New York wrote:

In a pathetic but very real sense, this woman is right – within the context of a society such as Israel, there is indeed "nothing wrong" about humiliating and oppressing another people. That deterioration of any moral sense is exactly what happens in any colonizing country, whether it was France in Algeria or the British in Kenya.

The difference, of course, is that the Israeli colonial project has no interest in pulling back to pre-1967 borders. For that, we can thank AIPAC and the American public that foolishly subsidizes Israeli colonialism, no matter how wrong it is or how much it alienates the entire Muslim world.

187 readers then recommended this comment. More than any other by far. Oh wait, Fizzy in Philadelphia comes close at 111:

As a result of their "Ethno-Centric" consciousness, they [the Jewish people] have become like those who persecuted them for generations. Ultra nationalistic, egomaniacal, and militaristic. They have gained world power status at the expense of their soul as a people.

Something is stirring in the American elite consciousness… (Thanks to Peter Voskamp)

28 Responses

  1. Avi
    August 17, 2010, 10:18 pm

    It’s encouraging to see Mackey stepping up to the plate.

    I yearn for the day when the NYT will have such an article on its front page.

    I yearn for the day when the NYT will let a Cal McAffrey (State of Play, 2009) publish in print what Della Frye was allowed to publish on the paper’s blog.

  2. Pamela Olson
    August 17, 2010, 10:39 pm

    I’ve been seeing this trend for months. The NYT readers are far savvier than the pundits. Has anyone else noticed that Thomas Friedman has stopped letting people comment on his columns? I think it’s because his reader-recommended commenters, who are much smarter than he is, have been savagely, smartly skewering him for the past two years.

    • Oscar
      August 19, 2010, 6:17 am

      Pamela — exactly right. It’s the same reason Jeffrey Goldberg doesn’t permit comments on his whackadoo columns. The vox populi rejects the hasbara being force fed to readers by Friedman and Goldberg and they don’t want the comments section to prove the emperor has no clothes.

      Fortunately, blogging critics of Goldberg and Friedman (Walt, Greenwald, MJ Rosenberg, Mondo, etc) do permit comment sections, and it’s obvious from the vitriol that the tide has turned. The paid hasbara troops deployed by Israel are no match for the internet-savvy American progressive base that has been sickened by the ongoing human catastrophe created in Gaza, and the MSM and Congress’ attempt to manipulate Americans to keep the billions in aid flowing to our “special friend.”

  3. syvanen
    August 17, 2010, 11:09 pm

    I also noticed this NYT piece this morning. It is a change. I hope Mackey can keep his job. There is something else going on at the NYT that is worth noting. The comments to many articles are very good. Last year some of Friedman’s articles were absolutely raked over the coals, recently his missives no longer have comment sections.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    August 17, 2010, 11:34 pm

    AN EXCELLENT COMMENT (29 recommends):

    Brent J.
    Dennver, CO
    August 17th, 2010
    1:19 pm
    I am reminded of pictures that a friend has of trophy hunting in Africa. In the pictures, he and others are crouching over a kills surrounded by the accouterments of the hunt with arms around each other smiling.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    August 17, 2010, 11:41 pm

    ANOTHER EXCELLENT COMMENT (29 recommends):

    August 17th, 2010
    1:21 pm
    These remind me of the lynching pictures taken in the US before the civil rights era. How can one person delightfully take a photo when another is suffering. These people have no soul. Since when is war fun and games?

  6. Taxi
    August 18, 2010, 1:10 am

    Oh it’s ‘shifting’ alright, Phil.

    But Seham’s painful stories from occupied Palestine are still coming in faster than this ‘shifting’.

    • Oscar
      August 19, 2010, 6:21 am

      Taxi — the two situations are linked. The more Israel faces delegitimization in the world community (BDS, politicians speaking out, etc), the faster they have to “create facts on the ground.”. This is no coincidence — they are simply accelerating the timetable on complete ethnic cleansing.

      Amazing that Obama can sleep at night.

  7. Richard Witty
    August 18, 2010, 2:59 am

    The image of Palestinians has also shifted. There are no longer daily reports of terror in the streets, or rockets fired from Gaza.

    If there were, then the suppressive separation of the two communities would be accepted in Europe and the US.

    Hamas’ policies make a very very big difference.

    • Richard Witty
      August 18, 2010, 3:01 am

      The anachronism, the mismatch of military to law (consider the statements by the Israeli human rights lawyer posted yesterday), of military to border administration (implied in the dramatic post by the woman crossing the border yesterday), is only an anachronism when there is no terror.

      • Shingo
        August 18, 2010, 8:48 am

        “is only an anachronism when there is no terror.”

        As Siegman has documented, there hasn’t been any since 2006, so yes, it is an anachronism.

      • eljay
        August 18, 2010, 10:56 am

        >> The anachronism, the mismatch of military to law (consider the statements by the Israeli human rights lawyer posted yesterday), of military to border administration (implied in the dramatic post by the woman crossing the border yesterday), is only an anachronism when there is no terror.

        As usual, you present a one-sided and hypocritial assessment of the situation. “Terror” is what Palestinians do, but not what Israelis do. And, once again, you place squarely on the shoulders of Palestinians the full blame and responsibility for the beginning, continuation and the ending of “terror” and violence.

        But, hey, keep those slogans coming: “Making the Better Wheel: How to Resolve the Anachronism of Terror-Based Mismatches!”

        What a joke(r).

    • Sumud
      August 18, 2010, 8:36 am

      “There are no longer daily reports of terror in the streets, or rockets [missiles, remote control machine gunning, bulldozing, arson, destruction of agriculture]..”

      There’s no shortage of such reports, it’s just that Israel is the perpetrator, and you refuse to look.

    • Chaos4700
      August 18, 2010, 10:06 am

      Hooray! Painting Stars of David on Palestinian business, running them out of their farms, homes and businesses and putting them into concentration — oh, sorry, prison and refugee camps has made der Vaterland safe from Semitic terrorism!

      Seriously, Witty. That is not the lesson your ancestors wanted you to learn from what was done to them.

  8. Citizen
    August 18, 2010, 5:03 am

    “Had ten minutes conversation with Henry Morgenthau about Jewish ship in Palistine. Told him I would talk to Gen[eral] Marshall about it. He’d no business, whatever to call me. The Jews have no sense of proportion nor do they have any judgement on world affairs. Henry brought a thousand Jews to New York on a supposedly temporary basis and they stayed. When the country went backward — and Republican in the election of 1946, this incident loomed large on the DP [Displaced Person] program. The Jews, I find are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as DP as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the under dog. Put an underdog on top and it makes no difference whether his name is Russian, Jewish, Negro, Management, Labor, Mormon, Baptist he goes haywire. I’ve found very, very few who remember their past condition when prosperity comes. Look at the Congress[ional] attitude on DP — and they all come from DPs.”
    Truman’s personal diary 6:00 P. M. Monday (21 July 1947)

    • Richard Witty
      August 18, 2010, 9:34 am

      I guess that supports the view that we Jews are only self-centered opportunistic parasites, not worthy of consideration.

      • Sumud
        August 18, 2010, 10:23 am

        Only among the simple-minded.

      • Richard Parker
        August 18, 2010, 2:12 pm

        One of the first intelligent remarks I’ve seen you
        make, Richard

      • Chaos4700
        August 18, 2010, 7:40 pm

        Seriously, guys. You let Witty slander Citizen with the implication that he’s an anti-Semite and you refuse to let the rest of us respond to that?

        No offense, but… double standard.

  9. hophmi
    August 18, 2010, 10:14 am

    It’s probably M. Junaid Alam, a guy who writes for Counterpunch all the time.

    This whole story is much ado about nothing and could have been taken by any army in any conflict at any time. It could have been taken of a Palestinian policeman and a Palestinian dissident. It’s not even clear that the soldier is mocking anybody, and much as I know you love to discount anything an IDF soldier says, the soldier has said that she was not mocking anybody.

    But since not recognizing the humanity of Israelis is essential to your narrative here (makes it easy to argue that Israeli fears are unjustified and their right to self-determination meritless), you’ve creatively interpreted the photographs differently.

    And as usual, Phil, you are grasping at straws. What is clear from looking at the comment recommendations is that few people read the comments past the first page, and that the comments on the first page are overwhelmingly critical of Israel. Welcome to the blogosphere. Hey, great, a couple hundred fellow travelers recommended Junaid’s comment on a site that is read by millions every day. It confirms that most people could not care less about the conflict.

    • Sumud
      August 18, 2010, 10:39 am

      It’s not much ado about nothing.

      Even Donald Rumsfeld would agree with me. In his own words:

      “The Geneva Convention indicates that it’s not permitted to photograph and embarrass or humiliate prisoners of war,”
      link to

      Of course, at the time he was talking about US prisoners being held by Iraqi forces, just days after the invasion of Iraq began in March 2003. Before Abu Ghraib.

      • Avi
        August 18, 2010, 12:34 pm


        After reading all the comments in Hebrew on the blog where the photos were ‘leaked’, I was reminded of Israeli indoctrination and simple mindedness from which I have been attempting to distance myself and forget; Many of the comments proclaimed that the Palestinians in the photos were all terrorists, so it follows, “What’s all the outrage about?”

        In other words (1) a Palestinian in handcuffs is automatically branded a terrorist and (2) Even a terrorist is not protected by the Geneva Conventions. Mind you, according to Israeli hasbara, attacks on civilians and soldiers alike are acts of “terrorism”. There is no distinction between civilian and military targets. So, any form of armed resistance against the occupation forces is an act of terrorism by default. But, you and I and many others already knew that.

      • hophmi
        August 18, 2010, 2:02 pm

        These are not POWs.

      • Sumud
        August 18, 2010, 8:35 pm

        There is something oddly fragile about the mentality of the IDF soldier, It’s OK for them to do whatever they want – occupy, humiliate, terrorise, kill – and the government largely backs them up. But harm or kill an IDF soldier and it’s tantamount to genocide – and screw the Geneva Convention(s) and any rules of engagement.

        I’m thinking of the IDF soldier who apparently did his best impersonation of Rambo on the Mavi Marmara – he apparently single-handedly killed 6 of those who died on the flotilla. And there was talk at the time he’d get a medal of honour:

        “The attackers had already seized two pistols from the commandos, and fired repeatedly at them. Facing more than a dozen of the mercenaries, and convinced their lives were in danger, he and his colleagues opened fire, he said. S. singlehandedly killed six men. His colleagues killed another three.”
        link to

        Reading that article again I notice another interesting passage:

        “T. said he realized the group they were facing was well-trained and likely ex-military after the commandos threw a number of stun grenades and fired warning shots before rappelling down onto the deck. “They didn’t even flinch,” he said. “Regular people would move.””

        Interesting admission:
        1. IDF fired from helicopters. MM eyewitnesses claim live ammo used and two people killed before any IDF soldier landed on deck
        2. IDF soldiers had decided before landing on deck that the MM activists were in fact trained militants. Having come to that conclusion, obviously snipers on board the helicopters are going to give cover fire as the soldier rappel down. As well as the 9 killed, it’s worth remembering there were about 50 others who sustained gunshot wounds during the raid.

        Since you read Hebrew Avi there’s another account of the exploits of soldier S:

        link to

    • eljay
      August 18, 2010, 1:25 pm

      >> It’s not even clear that the soldier is mocking anybody, and … the soldier has said that she was not mocking anybody.

      Of course she wasn’t mocking anyone. Posing with cutesy smiles in front of handcuffed and blindfolded men can never be mistaken for anything other than “humanizing ‘the Other'” and making “better wheels”.

      It’s also important to note how brave she is to do these things, given that she is a “generation to generation” fear-scarred Israeli. Kudos to her.

  10. MarkF
    August 18, 2010, 11:58 am

    Of course, she wasn’t mocking the person tied up and blind-folded. That’s why she put it on her Facebook page.

    Simple test – how would you feel if it was you or your dad? Much ado about nothing? You see, that’s what happens when you can’t relate. So let’s see, if you saw pictures on a Facebook page of Shalit blind-folded and a Palestinian soldier mocking kisses at the guy, you would also feel that it was much ado about nothing, correct? And if that soldier said he/she wasn’t mocking him, you’d believe it.

    It doesn’t matter if one of one hundred people care. It was wrong.

  11. rachelgolem
    August 18, 2010, 8:43 pm

    Israel’s image must really be suffering.

    Just yesterday, I heard an American woman say she was afraid to put her children on a plane with “Zionists”.

  12. RoHa
    August 18, 2010, 8:45 pm

    The story is still running on SBS. They had another report on it last night.

    link to

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