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‘The defiant femininity of Israel’s female soldiers’ — you’re kidding, right?

US Politics
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Vice, a publication that has done some excellent work reporting on the occupation, has gone in for Jim Crow journalism: a series of intimate portraits of Israeli female soldiers taken by a former Israeli soldier under the self-parodying headline, “The Defiant Femininity of Israel’s Female Soldiers.” The story appeared two days ago on Vice’s photo pages, along with this text, aiming to justify the pictures as a form of protest.

Mayan Toledano’s intimate series showing female Israeli soldiers was inspired by her own experience in the Israeli military. Her time in the army left her feeling stripped of all vestiges of femininity and any sense of herself as an individual, and in the photos collected here, she shows female Israeli soldiers whose girlishness and teenage boredom act as a subtle but undeniable form of protest.

So girlishness and teenage boredom are an “undeniable form of protest”? But there is nothing subversive in the gallery, no sense of what Israeli soldiers do– enforce an occupation– just eight olive-khaki photos in the loving manner of this one:

Mayan Toledano photograph at VICE of a female Israeli soldier

Mayan Toledano photograph at VICE of a female Israeli soldier



Thankfully, the article is getting savaged on twitter, after Vice posted it. Rebecca Pierce, filmmaker:

Refaat Alareer answers with a Breaking the Silence documentary.

Alareer points out that the piece is in a tradition of eroticizing Israeli soldiers for consumption by American Jews: “israel/zionism is exploiting these women to seduce jewish kids from the west.”

And notes that Googling “Israeli female soldiers images” produces a lot more of the same olive khaki cheesecake.

“[I]sraeli soldiers don’t look very aesthetically pleasing when they’re actually working on oppressing people,” tweets Zeeshan, an aspiring English filmmaker, in posting the famous picture of Eden Abergil, below, which the Israeli soldier put on Facebook in 2010.

Eden Abergil posted this picture of herself with blindfolded Palestinian prisoners on Facebook in 2010

Eden Abergil posted this picture of herself with blindfolded Palestinian prisoners on Facebook in 2010

Wilson Dizard, who pointed the article out to me, writes: The degree of bourgeois myopia in accepting youth itself as a protest against militarism is really dumbfounding. Pictures of handsome, smoldering American GIs in Vietnam didn’t make the war they were fighting any more legitimate or winnable, or less horrific. These young women aren’t to blame. They’re just people trying to live their lives amid forces far beyond their control. Even the artist is just trying to make a living documenting the world. But these young women are no less real than the politicians who perpetuate oppression. Photo series of those people don’t draw traffic. Vice sometimes does great stuff, but they goofed here.”

Sydney academic/artist Safdar Ahmed tweets:

FFS Vice! Israeli soldiers whose ‘girlishness and teenage boredom’ shows just how routine the military occupation of Palestine has become

Good point. The old green line is disappearing from the American discourse. Remember that the Democratic Party platform expunged any mention of occupation– this in the 50th year of the occupation. That the Washington Post did a whole article about “miserable” “pitiful” occupied Susiya without talking about occupation. That a WNYC announcer refers to the “alleged” occupation.

Turns out Vice ran a similar album of photos by Mayan Toledano last spring with more lipstick, different text and the headline, “Photos from the Everyday Lives of Young Female Israeli Soldiers.” So this is a genre.

P.S. Adam Johnson at notes that the Israeli Foreign Ministry commissioned a photoshoot along these lines once with Maxim, and says: “For the second time in the last five months, Vice has run a bizarre, titillating photo spread of ‘girlish,’ ‘teenage’ Israeli soldiers that manages to be obtuse and borderline creepy at the same time.”

Thanks to Adam Horowitz. 

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5 Responses

  1. amigo
    September 1, 2016, 1:28 pm

    Check out the video below .Zionists giving advanced training to their children for when they become full blown idf criminals. Must be the zionist way of demonstrating their love for their children.

    Which of these girls in the video below, (taken in 2006) ,is one of those sitting next to her trophy above.

  2. oldgeezer
    September 1, 2016, 4:13 pm

    I’m not familiar with the different roles played in the entertainment industry. Would Bill Maher being an executive producer at vice not have a role to play in how something like this could get presented. I personally view vice with a jaundiced eye give his association and racist bent.

  3. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    September 2, 2016, 7:39 am

    Does it make me a bad person that I feel no sympathy for Abergil when she got wounded in the last war with Gaza? I hope she’s still limping.

  4. oneangrycomic
    September 2, 2016, 8:27 am

    The amount of makeup that would be necessary to make these vile creatures appear to be feminine does NOT exist!

  5. Marnie
    September 5, 2016, 1:02 am

    Whenever I see a female soldier, I almost burst out laughing. The majority are so concerned with the puerile – their hair, their makeup, how low riding their trousers are, how sexy they try to be and in a heartbeat become the Mademoiselles de Sade. I wonder sometimes if their aggressiveness towards Palestinians is the way they release their fear and anger for being nothing more than a handy piece of ass for their superiors, whether they like it or not, nothing more than an object in the IOF and in the israeli culture. Israeli women share common ground with Palestinians, but their tribal affiliation more precious to them, no matter the cost to their bodies or souls, than joining their Palestinian brothers and sisters in the fight for justice and equality.

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