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Nation of Misguided Teenagers

by Eitan Isaacson, crossposted at his Monotonous.org blog.

“I still don’t understand what I did wrong. Seriously, I don’t understand!” Eden said during a morning radio interview after pictures of her posing next to blindfolded Palestinian detainees were found on her Facebook page.

Of course she doesn’t understand, she spent “the best years” of her life serving in an army of occupation, immersed in a culture that is blind to the humanity of it’s subject population. It’s not a sentiment reserved for the lower ranks, or the middle ranks, it goes all the way up. It’s a mentality where the only people with mothers are people who speak Hebrew. The Israeli army is where youthful experimentation occurs, you get to humiliate, you get to intimidate, and if you are lucky: you get to kill.

“I’ll rephrase my question, Eden, so that perhaps we can learn together how it was wrong…”, the radio host will walk her through it, slowly.

She crossed an invisible line, specifically she embarrassed the IDF, “I hoped there wouldn’t be any media interest” an IDF spokesperson said. But the media showed interest, and that is what turned Eden’s souvenir into “shameful behavior”.

And now Israel’s military, media and political elite must fulfill their solemn role: behave like disappointed adults, and wrinkle their noses in distaste. Another delinquent youth has infiltrated “the most moral army in the world”.

This isn’t of course the first morally corrupt soldier that the IDF has disowned. There are many more, and they have done worse deeds. Mostly these individuals don’t exceed the rank of second lieutenant.

And this is how the IDF keeps it’s legitimacy in it’s own eyes. While the Israeli government and it’s army are accused repeatedly of war crimes and violating human rights, the IDF, through internal inquiry, discovers that all of those heinous acts were committed by the rank and file alone. Where were the brigade and battalion commanders? Where was the regional command? The general staff? They were giving compassionate orders of the utmost morality, but a few teenagers spoiled it for everyone.

“We are a nation surrounded by enemies” Eden tells the the radio host. She doesn’t understand she is outside the fold, she is now a joke. She will repeat all the mantras and clichés she was told that enabled her to see Arabs as less than human. That allowed her to enjoy those army years so much without a hint of remorse or regret. Everyone else will shake their heads: “she doesn’t “get it”, she doesn’t understand how bad this makes us look.

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