You may have already seen the photos: a young IDF female soldier posed in front of blindfolded Gazan men. Her name is Eden Abergil, and she insists “There’s nothing wrong with the pictures I uploaded to Facebook…” One of Abergil’s friends wrote, regarding one of the shots, “That looks really sexy for you,” with her response, “I wonder if he is on Facebook too — I’ll have to tag him in the photo.”
Now to be a real Debbie Downer! Here are some stats on the Gaza blockade, which has been in effect for the past three years. Perhaps most relevant are the food shortages: not only are 61 percent of Gazans “foods insecure,” but 80 percent of homes are dependent on food aid. Moreover, one third of children under five and women of childbearing age suffer from anemia, according to the World Health Organization. Although Abergil may be unaware of this fact, electronic items, including computers, are generally denied entry into Gaza.
Hey, at least the men with whom she posed will be spared the further humiliation of an virtual reunion with their captor. And you thought it sucked getting Facebook requests from those horrible people you went to high school with…
Where would an Israeli soldier get the idea that this was kosher? That it’s perfectly okay preen and pose with prisoners for your own amusement? Well, here in the U.S., college age kids are known to invade Mexican border towns over spring break, where they take pictures of themselves mock-raping inflatable burros, downing shots and snapping pics of insecure girls flashing their breasts. Pathetic, sure, but less legally damning.
Then there was Abu Ghraib, back in 2004. Remember those Iraqi prisoner abuse pics, memorably featuring a then-twenty-one-year-old Lynndie England? To her credit, Eden Abergil didn’t post any shots of her holding a leash attached to a naked, crawling man. She does not make the thumbs up sign behind human pyramids. There are no snaphots of her leering at men being forced to masturbate.
Moreover, there’s no evidence that Abergil did it to please a man, unlike England, who happily posed for the enjoyment of her now ex-boyfriend, Charles Graner In a half-assed defense of her reprehensible behavior, England remarked to an interviewer, “I didn’t want them. But he was so persistent. Go on! Just for me! If you loved me, you’d do it. I’m like, gee, OK just take the damned picture.”
I suppose it’s somewhat comforting to know that Abergil probably didn’t take her pictures for some fella’s titillation. Perhaps there’s more gender equality in a country with universal conscription. Sisters are doin’ it for themselves!
When Abergil was asked about the harm Israel’s international reputation could face as a result of her actions, she protested, “We will always be attacked. Whatever we do, we will always be attacked.” For Abergil, the Geneva Conventions (to which Israel is a signatory) are major a killjoy when she’s having “the best time of my life” (as her IDF Facebook album is labeled).
There’s nothing wrong with violating international human rights standards of the people you’re occupying. It’s just good, healthy fun when you’re young.