56 thoughts on “Israel Wakes Up and Discovers Its Soldiers Abuse Palestinians – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Hello Richard,

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what the point you’re trying to make is. You say there is a disconnect in the Israeli society, and that’s why the people in Israel were shocked by this development. Are you serious or are you being sarcastic?

    Because if you’re serious then I don’t think you’ve interpreted this event correctly. The shock was mainly on the part of people /outside/ Israel. Israelis know the IDF abuses and humiliates prisoners. They accept it. Most even support it wholeheartedly. You only have to listen to what this Eden Aberjil had to say in her defense (I didn’t do anything wrong, I just took some pictures etc.) to understand this is not considered shameful in Israel.

    We do pretend to be shocked so as to appease the world and seem less brutal to outside eyes (like that hilarious IDFSpokesperson youtube video), but no one here is either truly surprised or shocked. If anything, we’re only angry at this soldier for hanging our dirty laundry on facebook.

    In the Israeli rulebook, torture is fine as long as it stays out of sight.

    1. “You only have to listen to what this Eden Aberjil had to say in her defense (I didn’t do anything wrong, I just took some pictures etc.) to understand this is not considered shameful in Israel.”
      … let’s say by ‘many’ or ‘most’ people in Israel. I happen to know that there are quite a few Israelis who are ashamed.

      Regarding what she said in her defense, it seems obvious to me that she’s an incredible airhead in addition to being callous and self-centered.

      1. Of course not /everybody/ is unashamed. I myself am ashamed (not surprised in the least, yet ashamed). But I am in the vast minority of opinions here.

        And about her intelligence, I agree she must not be the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawer, to put this stuff on facebook and expect nothing to happen, but as for her callousness, as I said, it is not unique to her.

          1. Sadly (and extremely frighteningly) the answer is yes. It is very widespread. In fact, I can count on one hand the people I know who do not share her point of view (well… maybe two hands, but I choose my friends carefully).

            I wouldn’t say it borders on insanity. It is completely insane. Totally insane. And it’s very hard to keep your moral compass pointing true north in this kind of environment – it’s no surprise most people fail, and the result is what you see. A whole country gone mad.

            And what’s more frightening, is that if you do keep your morals straight, you cannot speak about it without being ridiculed, outcast, or even attacked, because if there’s one thing worse than being an Arab here, it’s being an Arab-lover, a lefty, a self-hating Jew – a traitor.

  2. My husband is confined to a wheelchair due to a lung condition. He is not supposed to walk because exertion would damage his fragile lungs. He is able to walk, and even run short distances. If some Israeli monster fired at him, he too would get up from his wheelchair and run for cover.

    Both his grandparents and mine were Christian families that took in Jewish children from the Kindertransport and cared for them during the war. If this is what those children’s children and grandchildren turned out to be, given the same need for refuge today, I would pass on offering a home to those children.

    1. Fiona, these are very harsh words, but unfortunately the Israelis have rightfully earned them. Your test of whether you’ll be able to stay aloof in the face of Israeli refugee kids is going to be tested soon because Israel is doomed and the end will come sooner than most people expect. Then these same Israelis will ask for your family’s mercy again.

        1. With every passing day my pessimism grows. Just by looking around me, at work, etc., and seeing how completely oblivious everyone is. I wish I knew of a way to approach them in a manner they would not McCarthysly see as being hostile.

          1. Its one thing to be in hell and not being able to get out.

            Its simple masochism to be in hell with an easy way out and not taking it. I checked Yossi’s strange blog and apparently you used to live in the US. If you’re not there now who’s fault is that?

      1. I agree that most countries in Central and Western Europe would probably refuse an influx of Jewish orphans today. Politicians can count votes and in France for example, where Fiona lives. the all important car-burner demographic would object.

        The irony is that Europe needs children now more than it did in 1938-39. No country there is producing 2.1 children/woman, the minimum for mere replacement.

        Not that a lot of Jews would move to Europe, over say the US/Canada/Australia, or even for the younger ones India or China.

        1. I’d smile at your suggestion that India or China may be a better place for immigration that Europe, but counting babies, in Israeli context, can hardly make one smile. Whatever (relatively minor) problems Europe may have with low birth rates, Israel’s birth rates are terrifyingly high. This country has now the TFR of 2.75 births/woman, which is somewhat higher than India (2.68 b/w) and Botswana (2.6 b/w), and considerably higher than – surprise, surprise – Bahrain (2.5 b/w), Qatar (2.45 b/w) and Lebanon (1.85 b/w).
          Of course, the problem with a high TFR is that the country should maintain high rates of economic growth merely to keep its GDP per capita from falling down. This can’t last forever, and it won’t (say “bubble”).

          1. The population of almost all developed nation is much higher than it was 100 years ago , and so is GDP/capita.

            No reason it can’t continue-sorry Dr Malthus.

          1. The total Jewish population of Germany is 118000 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_population

            With all the Jews from the FSU there that doesn’t leave room for a huge Jewsih expat community there.

        2. It’s anecdotal, but from my observations my Froggy neighbours are sprogging a wee bit more than they were. I am seeing more families with three and four kids than I did a few years ago.

          Hey, Europe is brilliant! Healthcare, good climate, it’s secular, so people can worship in peace, or not, their choice… good system of education.

          France is perfect for Jews. The French are the only people who are more irritating than the Jews, except maybe the Scots. 🙂 (I couldn’t resist that.)

          1. France’s fertility rate is currently at 1.97 children born per woman. Together with modest immigration, this is easily enough for replacement. France is one of the, if not the most demographically stable country in Europe.

            Now of course, a period of actual population decline, if it’s merely caused by low birthrates, is not a disaster either. Unless of course, you see the whole world in military terms of manpower and territory, like many Israeli politicians do.

        3. Dave,

          I took a second look at this.

          “the all important car-burner demographic”

          With that thinking in mind, I ask you why would we want to import loads of budding Bernie Madoffs? (You should be careful what you write; you don’t want to encourage that kind of thinking.

          “car-burners”… huh. The Israeli papers are always reporting burning and rioting problems of your own in Jerusalem, and Haredi throwing rocks, spitting, even attacking women. Nice place.

      2. They are harsh words, all the more so since children are always innocent.

        I’m tough, and I can be very stubborn. I have no fear of enemies, if there are enemies. What troubles me hearing and reading the rewritten histories. Go to the JPost, and read what people write. Go to some Jewish blogs, see what people post, and read the comments.

        Why would I, a Scot, even think of taking in a Jewish child when it is pretty clear that many, possibly the majority of Jews think we’re a bunch of snarling anti-Semites?

        One example:


        Then read the talkbacks:

        Typical comment:

        “Forgive them for they were born that way: It is part of the upbringing; Christian I mean. G-d gave them brains, perspective, so they’ve no excuse to err. What came first, the fall of Jerusalem under the Roman Empire, or the biblical recollection of said murder of Jesus? It’s like the Kennedy assassination. We’ll never really know, but it’s what one is led to believe that has consequence in practicing what you preach. Many more than English need repent.”

        I’m certain that this gentleman would rather his child be gassed than sheltered with such scum as my English husband and me, either in England or France.

        No, should the need arise – and I hope it doesn’t – I’ll pass.

        1. and u only prove what israeli right wingers claim all the time. Thanks for doing that, Fiona in france.

          60 years ago ur family saved jewish kids. 6,000,000 of the jews werent saved by anyone (including large parts of my family, btw) and were sent to die by the Germans, and u r surprised 2 generations later, when so many people who actually experienced the holocaust on themselves are still alive and +- well, we still dont automaticly trust all the europeans?
          What you practicly saying is “so there was a holocaust, 6000000 people died, but hey – my family saved few jews, so the jews have no right to talk about antisemitism anymore”. Yeah, right. It really is surprising i, as someone who grew up hearing stories from my grandmother (a holocaust survivour) about her childhood cant see myself moving to Germany, right? besides, has it ever crossed ur mind that european antisemitism (or racism generally) was not invented by hitler in 1933? Jews (and not only jews but also gypsies, and others) werent usually the most welcomed guests on the european continent during the last 2000 years, but im guessing we should all forget it – because ur family saved few jewish kids during ww2.

          Do u really think that if there were no antisemites around the world people like myself wouldnt have rather moved to Netherlands or Germany or any other european country – than waste our life in this s***hole called israel?

          btw, fiona, its obvious to anyone but you that u ARE an antisemite, when u write ud rather see jewish kids going to gas chambers than save them – if those were ur choices. and u blaming jews for ur antisemitism.. well its rather sad.

          1. u r surprised 2 generations later, when so many people who actually experienced the holocaust on themselves are still alive and +- well, we still dont automaticly trust all the europeans?

            Actually there are very few survivors alive contrary to yr claim. You are not a survivor & perhaps not even a child of survivors, yet you claim some connection to the Holocaust that allows you to believe that European nations are still prepared to slaughter Jews & so cannot be trusted–or some such nonsense.

            I find yr response to Fiona offensive. Just because your family suffered (& so did mine btw, but I somehow can manage not to flip people off as you do) you think that gives you the right to be mean spirited & dismissive. I’ve got news for you–yr response only shows you have no derech eretz. If Fiona or anyone she knows protected Jews you should be proud of her actions & encourage her. Instead you spit on her. Shame on you! And I will not allow you to continue in this vein. If you have no manners I will insist on them on her behalf.

            BTW, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have already emigrated fr the place which you yrself called a “shithole” (not I btw). So I’m not sure what’s holding you back. We’ll welcome you w. open arms here in the U.S. or any number of other countries. And you wouldn’t be the first or the last.

            its obvious to anyone but you that u ARE an antisemite, when u write ud rather see jewish kids going to gas chambers than save them

            I find this statement so patently offensive, mean-spirited & full of lies about what Fiona wrote that I’m banning you. If you wish to be reinstated you will have to go back to my comment rules which you claim to have read. YOu will first have to support to me your claim that Fiona said any of those things. You will 2nd have to promise not to call anyone anti-Semitic unless you very carefully & precisely prove they are by quoting (not paraphrasing) any statement you believe fits that category.

            I’m prepared to rescind yr banning (unlike others I have banned), but I simply will not allow these types of charges to fly in my comment threads w/o putting offenders on notice.

            If you wish to talk about this contact me privately.

          2. The BNP are quite taken with Israel’s tactics. Nuff said.

            By the way, Grampy did a wee bit more than save a few Jews. He was one of the men who set up the Kindertransport.

            Now my mother was French, Breton, actually. Her father, a retired military man, was in the Résistance. His activities consisted of smuggling downed Allied airmen, Maquisards on the run, Jews, and political enemies to the coast, sometimes navigating in all weather in tiny boats along the rocky coast in small craft to boats waiting to take them to England, sending messages to England, and hiding Jews. He was turned in by a collaborator and sent to in a concentration camp.

            His sister, Louise, was in Paris. She brought Jews out to our manoir on the Brittany coast for hiding. One of them, Jean-Yves, came as a teen and still lives in the village. He is one of our closest friends. They never caught Lolo but they caught my mother’s sister, Annick, who had been studying in Paris, but not the two little Jewish boys she was hiding at the manoir. Tugdual and Loïck, my uncles, who were teenagers, grabbed the kids, ran low across the fields, circled back to the village, and hid them at the boulangerie. The boulanger got word to the priest who spirited them to safety. Annick was taken away by the Gestapo, accused of aiding the Résistance, and shot. The boys and the boulanger, who was only twenty, were taken to the village beach, and executed. They assembled the entire village, including my grandmother, and made them watch the execution. Loïck was only fifteen.

            My grandfather was tortured and returned a cripple to find his daughter and both his sons had been killed. The priest secreted my mother to a convent to keep her safe from reprisals.

            I have the Nazis to thank for my living in this gorgeous 15th C manoir. I’m the last of my family.

          3. I hope your family history will be a heart-felt rejoinder to the unmannered idiocy of the commenter who took issue with the significance of the deeds of heroism in which your family engaged. You have the undying gratitude and solidarity of this Jew.

  3. The prisoners still have necks. Check.

    The prisoners aren’t in a thousand pieces. Check.

    The ‘torture’ involves being blindfolded. Check.

    Yup, its in Israel-the only place in the ME where that could be true.

    1. There are other photos freely available of IDF soldiers standing next to Palestinian corpses & viewing them as trophies of war. If you watch the 60 min. video Dave Ehrens links to above it portrays 6 Israeli women scarred by army service that involved such horrific abuse. If you want to be a hasbarist couldn’t you at least be a bit more intelligent & convincing?

      1. That video can’t be streamed outside the US (I’m outside the US)

        Obviously the producers don’t want it shown in places where people could easily see the errors.

        1. What a nitwit. I’m sure it can’t be seen outside the U.S. because of rights or copyright issues. Are you going to argue w. six IDF veterans traumatized by their service. What are you going to tell them–that they err in their emotions about their trauma??? Couldn’t you for a second stop with the flackery for Israel & be a human being?? I know, it’s a rhetorical question.

          1. We’re not talking about a big studio with lots of lawyers. we’re talking about a small oufit, which according to you, is more interested in its copyright than spreading its documentary beyond the US.

    2. RE: “The prisoners still have necks. Check…” – Dave Boxthorn

      A COUPLE OF COMMENTS FROM thelede.blogs.nytimes.com:

      15. / Brent J. /Dennver, CO
      I am reminded of pictures that a friend has of trophy hunting in Africa. In the pictures, he and others are crouching over a kill surrounded by the accouterments of the hunt with arms around each other smiling.

      25. / Tracy / USA
      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?

      SOURCE – http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/israeli-ex-soldier-defends-her-facebook-snapshots/?hp

      1. African trophies pictures are of dead animals, and lynching pictures are of dead people.

        Apparently anti-Israel commenters have difficulty understanding the difference between life and death.

          1. Its a photo of 3 soldiers, impossible to say what army, with a dead man.

            I have no idea what the expression is on their faces, since the photographer intentionally blurred them.

          2. It is VERY clear what army their uniform represents, and it is the IDF (trust me, I have the exact same uniform in my house). Those are three IDF officers.

            And does it really matter what their expression is? What do you think it is? Remorse?

          1. I clicked on your link. This is what it said:

            This content is currently unavailable.

            The page you requested cannot be displayed right now. It may be temporarily unavailable, the link you clicked on may have expired, or you may not have permission to view this page.

    3. Ah, yes. The famous, “What we do to these Arabs is perfectly acceptable, because what those Arabs over there do to each other is surely worse. And these Arabs don’t deserve to be treated like human beings until those Arabs over there raise their own standards. The connection is fair and logical because all Arabs are the same, and responsible for one another’s actions!”

      Amazing what happens to your logic when you start to take racist beliefs as unquestionable axioms. This picture shows a fairly routine and everyday scene – by the standards of the IDF. That doesn’t mean that worse scenes don’t unfold, or that no worse photos are available. But even if it WERE the worst incident of abuse, which it certainly is not, how would comparing it to the torture techniques of neighbouring regimes make it any more justifiable? Are the prisoners in the picture supposed to be grateful for the liberal-minded treatment they receive from a woman who openly admits that she wants to ‘slaughter Arabs’, telling themselves that at least they’re not in Syria? This logic salves the self-righteous Zionist conscience, but it doesn’t do anything to ease human suffering.

  4. RE “They [IDF draftees] certainly see and participate in such degrading events and sometimes they even document them on video…” – R.S.

    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 HAARETZ ARTICLE – http://www.haaretz.com/news/idf-soldiers-filmed-humiliating-bound-palestinian-face-court-martial-1.285454

    FROM BBC NEWS, 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 BBC ARTICLE WITH THE VIDEO EMBEDDED – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7715861.stm

  5. Richard-
    You are aware that YOUR country, under the command of YOUR President Obama also has to take prisoners in this way, because this is, unfortunately, the nature of counter-insurgency warfare, which the US is conducting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    1. I disapprove of such abuse whether it is U.S. soldiers or the IDF doing it. THe diff. is there are many Americans & U.S. NGOs who have taken on this issue & are vigorously fighting against it. The opposition in Israel is much feebler & the notion of abusing Palestinians is much more accepted. Besides, the IDF often abuses civilians, not militants. It makes little effort to distinguish bet. them. The U.S., while we err, at least attempt to make such a distinction. Not always of course. I am not whitewashing U.S. policy. But Israel doesn’t even pretend to make such an effort as both the Lebanon & Gaza war massacares showed.

  6. I’m sorry, as disgusting and disturbing as these photos are, they do not compare with Abu Graib. All they show is a stupid young girl showing off in front of blindfolded prisoners. There is no indication that these people have been tortured. The photos of the IDF soldiers posing with their “trophies” are equally stupid, but still do not compare with photos we’ve seen of American atrocities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. At Abu Graib and other other prisons in those areas, we have witnessed torture, humiliation and slaughter by indifferent, sadistic war criminals.

    This is not to condone what is seen in these pictures, but let us keep some proportion.

    1. Gene, do some Googling. Gruesome pictures of Israeli soldiers with their dead trophies are easily accessible online. The only reason there aren’t as many Abu Graibh type images is that the IDF has been smarter about suppressing them.

    2. Gene, thank you SO MUCH for putting things in perspective. I hope that if you have relatives in Israel, they will only undergo the Abergil drill, and not the Abu Ghraib drill, when the tables are turned. That would be very comforting for you, I’m sure.

      The point is, there is little point in comparing how the Israelis treat “their Ayrabs” to how the American treat “their Ayrabs”. The Americans will likely not have to face the consequences of their actions while the Israelis will not be able to escape them. So the Israelis have to start thinking about it in practical terms (well maybe it’s too late for that). What goes around will come around pretty soon. Your relativism of the form “master A treats his slaves better than master B does” is of little practical consequence.

      1. Yossi, your sarcasm is not appreciated. And your concern for my relatives is irrelevant. I was only comparing the PHOTOS, and how they affected me, not the comparative treatments dished out. I know very well what IDF is capable of; what cold blooded sadistic bastards they can be. I do honestly hope that the blowback will not hurt innocent Israelis, just as I wish innocent Palestinians would cease to suffer.

    3. A sense of proportion? Here goes.

      You are bound, you are blindfolded, and you are kept waiting. Perhaps for ten minutes, perhaps for ten hours. You’ve got no way of knowing, because they don’t speak to you except to insult you. Sometimes there is a language barrier. You sit there with no food or drink or access to the toilet for however long it takes, in the knowledge that imprisonment without trial is a common thing, that prisoners from the West Bank are routinely transferred to prisons in Israel (illegally, I might add), and that torture is a routine part of the Palestinian experience in Israeli jails. Legal representation and family visits, on the other hand, are not.

      You sit there with that blindfold and those bonds and you don’t know what’s going to happen to you now. Maybe you’ll be walking home at the end of the day, when the IDF girl has got her snaps for the album. Or maybe you won’t. And you have family and friends who are waiting for you in a town three miles down the road. You’re an hour late to meet them. They won’t be worrying – yet. They’ll assume it’s just another hold-up at another checkpoint. Maybe you’ll be with them before they start to worry.

      Or maybe you won’t.

      As Richard has said, there are worse photographs and testimonies available. Raja Shehadeh’s book ‘Strangers in the House’, dealing with his experiences as a Palestinian human rights lawyer, contains meticulously researched stories to rival Abu Ghraib. In Susan Nathan’s book ‘The Other Side of Israel’, she interviews former IDF soldiers who used to chalk smiley faces on their guns to chart how many Palestinians they had killed. Smiley faces were for adults. Children were represented by balloons. And have you forgotten all the pictures that came out of Cast Lead? Young soldiers sporting T-shirts that showed pregnant women in the sights of a gun, captioned ‘One Shot, Two Killed’?

      This is why those pictures are very useful in shaping our ‘sense of proportion’ – they show the IDF treatment of Palestinian prisoners at its finest. The comments by Dave Boxthorn show that some supporters of Israel’s actions are quite proud of that finest.

      This is why I object to the lolcat version of Aberjil’s photograph. It’s funny and it’s pretty clever. But it also raises the question, “What values?” How much principle can an occupying force claim to have?

      1. Ido had created many diff. Aberjil photo spoofs & I looked all of them over. Many were too “inside Israeli baseball” for most readers to get. The one I chose was the most direct & appropriate, but not what I would’ve chosen had there been something better.

  7. Gene, thanks for clarifying and sorry about my sarcasm. As far as the level of shock experienced by a Western observer, yes, the Abergil photos are much more banal and benign compared with Abu Ghraib but in a way this is even more depressing because you know that the episode in Abu Ghraib was a singularity of violence that would have ended at the latest at the same time with the time-bound occupation of Iraq, but in Israel, you see whole generations of Israelis who were raised to be oppressors and are clueless about what they have become. The jailers in Abu Ghraib knew that they were doing something wrong, the Israelis on the other hand, many don’t have a clue any more.

    1. Yossi, I am afraid I must again disagree. First of all, there is nothing time bound about the occupation in Iraq. It will continue long after everyone contributing to this blog are long gone. Second, it is not a “singularity” of violence. It is a continuing practice wherever the US engages in war. The jailers at Abu Ghraib should have known they were doing wrong, but (and I hate to use this expression) they were just “following orders.” The lack of a clue for Israelis is due to the fact that they have been conditioned for the past sixty years to treat their neighbors as üntermenschen.

      1. The good old Nuremberg defense. Officially invalidated since 1947, and still being invoked all the time. I sometimes wonder: How difficult can it be for militaries to hold a 2-hour-seminar for all of their soldiers, which should begin by the lecturer writing on the blackboard “Just following orders is not a valid defense”?

        P.S.: Untermenschen. No umlaut in there.

  8. I read these comments. As an American Jew, I can never know what my Israeli brethren have faced over the last 60 years in forging a nation. Remember that murder, terror and hate makes you fight back in ways you would have never thought possible.

    But for those Israeli Jews that need to survive, you must be aware of the consequences of your actions for your families and your people in Israel. “What goes around comes around.” You must defend but not be brutal. You must kill for survival, but not for sport.

    Always remember, fellow Jewish brethen, how fragile Jewish global presence is — we are hated, despised, vilified by almost every nation in the world. We are hated for being white racists, yet not white enough to be imported to other white countries. Emigration to other countries is precarious — we are not wanted anywhere, believe me. American Jews are viewed as racist, secular, overly pampered and controlling too much in American economics. No, I am NOT a self-hating Jew, just a cautious one!!!

    The damage that is done by IDF could harm us — in America there is fear — in France there is fear. In America, we already have the Bernie Madoff and now, the Strauss-Kahn scandals. As Jews, we are making disproportionate headlines.

    Please be careful, Israel, for your people. But, yes, survive. To Ms. Fiona, may God Bless you always for your wonderful heroic deeds in the name of humanity. May we as surviving Jews thank you in heart and soul.

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