Israel’s changing image

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
Instagram photo published by Mor Ostrovski 20 Israeli sniper
Instagram photo published by Mor Ostrovski, 20, Israeli sniper

The Instagram photo posted by an Israeli soldier, of a Palestinian boy’s head in crosshairs, has now become an international scandal, thanks to Ali Abunimah’s discovery of it. We are surely jaded by seeing evidence of this dehumanization all the time; but this image has demonstrated a power that other reports have lacked; and the optics of the Israeli miracle are changing before our eyes. Is this startup nation or the child-targeting nation?

ABC News is covering it, and it is the top story on Yahoo.

JERUSALEM – A photo posted online by an Israeli soldier showing a child in the crosshairs of a rifle scope has created a firestorm on the internet, drawing widespread criticism.

The photo was reportedly posted on Jan. 25 by Mor Ostrovski, 20, a member of an Israeli sniper unit. It shows crosshairs zeroed in on the back of the head of what appears to be a Palestinian boy in a village. The photo has since been taken down and Ostrovski‘s account has been deactivated.

“There are no other images to suggest that the photographer actually fired at the person in the image in this case,” wrote Palestinian activist Ali Abuminah who runs the site Electronic Intifada and drew much of the attention to the photo. “The image is simply tasteless and dehumanizing. It embodies the idea that Palestinian children are targets.”

But Palestinian children are targets: nearly 400 were killed by Israel just four years ago in 3 weeks in Gaza. It does not appear that the New York Times has covered the story yet. No it is covering the pistachio ice cream scandal, Netanyahu’s ice cream budget. How long can it postpone that hour?

The Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood made it international a day back:

An Israeli soldier has sparked outrage by posting a photograph appearing to show the back of a Palestinian boy’s head in the crosshairs of his sniper rifle on a social networking site….

The Israeli military said the soldier’s commanders were investigating the incident. His actions “are not in accordance with the spirit of the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] or its values”, a spokesperson said.

Ostrovski, who has closed his Instagram account, told the army he did not take the picture but found it on the internet.

Breaking the Silence, an organisation of veteran Israeli combat soldiers campaigning to raise awareness about life in the West Bank, condemned the image. “This is what occupation looks like. This is what military control over a civilian population looks like,” one member wrote on the group’s Facebook page….

In December, [Electronic Intifada] discovered Nisim Asis, a 22-year-old soldier from the Beit-El settlement, who posted racist images on his Instagram page, including a picture of himself licking what is probably tomato ketchup from a knife with the caption: “Fuck all Arabs their blood is tasty”.

In another unrelated incident, an infantry corps soldier was recently sentenced to 14 days in military prison for posting a picture of himself beside a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian on Facebook.//

More on the targeting of children. Last year we covered Breaking the Silence’s shocking report on the routine humiliation and victimization of children by Israeli soldiers. From our coverage:

The report teems with instances of teenagers, some 14 and 15, held till they foul themselves. They soil themselves because of beatings or because they are manacled and not allowed to go to a bathroom overnight. Other forms of humiliation include slapping children in the face, making them take off their pants to be searched, and stepping on their testicles.

This wasn’t the first Electronic Intifada report on the Israeli military and Instagram. In December Benjamin Doherty coined the term “war sporno” to describe “the use of male and female bodies to eroticize the military, to displace violence against Palestinians, to encourage Western publics to identify with Israeli soldiers, and to identify Israeli soldiers.”Here is one example Doherty published which speaks for itself:

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(Photo Nadav Peretz via Electronic Intifada)

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