Three’s a crowd

This is a guest post by AKUS

The world media – well, actually, pretty much the Guardian and sister paper the Observer – are agog with the latest story from Israel.

A female soldier named Eden Abergil posted a picture of herself on Facebook with two handcuffed Arab prisoners. Despite the Guardian’s attempt to play to the Arab street by allowing the tireless Jewish defamer of Israel, Rachel Shabi, to link the images to the infamous Abu Ghraib pictures in two articles, the prisoners were not being subjected to Abu Ghraib style humiliation. They were not the object of evil buffoonery to which Gilad Shalit has been subjected by Hamas. It was a stupid thing for Abergil to take the picture, and even more so to post it on Facebook. Her action was condemned immediately by the IDF.

Of course, this was a huge opportunity for the Guardian to make the leap from one foolish young woman to promoting the idea that there is a veritable photofest taking place among Israelis serving in the army– which is most young Israelis. Abergil’s “crime”, in reality, was that she was not in the slightest repentant about serving in order to protect Israel from murderous Palestinian terrorists.  The Guardian immediately dispatched its crack team of anti-Israeli muckrakers to find nine more examples for a photo gallery, citing “Breaking the Silence” to claim that such pictures are “widespread” (“See more of the Israeli soldiers’ ‘trophy’ photos”) and say something terrible about Israel.

Following Shabi’s lead, the Guardian/Observer’s Harriet Sherwood, eagerly scrounging for news around the fringes of an Israeli society she cannot understand and quite obviously hates, has found (or, more likely, is regurgitating reports from Israeli press or blogs) two Israeli women who served and were horribly shaken by their experiences – Inbar Michelzon and Dana Golan. Sherwood presents them as examples of a sort of brave and no longer silent minority among Israelis for “speaking out”.

What Sherwood seems unable to comprehend or prefers to overlook with a total lack of empathy for the situation in which young Israelis find themselves, is that the experiences related by Abergil, at one end of the spectrum, and Michelzon and Golan at the other end, are part and parcel of a country that is trying to maintain a relatively normal life in an environment where its citizens are daily threatened with rockets, mortars and shameless calls for their extermination. The stories she presents and the arguments about “peace” and “occupation” are hammered out around the kitchen table on a daily basis in every home in Israel – the homes to which she unlikely to ever be invited. After months in Israel, Sherwood has not managed to write a single article that reports a direct, cited, interaction that she has held with Israelis– everything she has written is a digest of second-hand news or reportage from briefings she has attended.

Sherwood is unable to comprehend the unique circumstances in which these three find themselves, unlike anything faced by young woman of similar age in their peaceful Western societies, using professional armies that wage war against enemies half a world away. Pretending that Israel is not at war is quite easy for a reporter on an expense account living in Jerusalem’s hotels, but is something brought home to every family whose members serve for years in regular service, then for weeks each year in reserves. These three women played an active part in ensuring the safety of other Israeli citizens, both Arab and Jew,  that is experienced by many Israelis who are face to face with the reality of Hamas along with  suicide bombers and snipers from Gaza and the West bank. They were not shop-girls in Oxford Street trying to deal with some difficult customers.

If Sherwood would get the three young woman in a room together, rather than reprinting excerpts from the English language Israeli press or English language Israeli blogosphere, I am sure she would find that there is one thing on which the three will agree – they want the fighting to stop, and everyone, on both sides, to just get on with their lives. Then Sherwood could go home, since she is oblivious to the real life that Israelis live while each, in turn, keeps the enemy at bay.

10 replies »

  1. Dana Golan is not just any old ‘Israeli woman shaken by her experiences’.
    She is the Executive Director of ‘Breaking the Silence’ and has made quite a career of relating her experiences on university campuses both at home and abroad.
    Somehow, Sherwood seems to have forgotten to mention that.

  2. Excellent insight into Harriet Sherwood’s limited range of perception and limited range of ability of interaction, IsraeliNurse.

    Israelis are very friendly and interested in meeting new people and discussing how they see them and their situation. Accounts of visits to Israel almost invariably include reports of invitations to meals by sociable Israelis met on the way.

    I can’t help but wonder why she is different.

  3. Sherwood writes: “‘It is impossible to know how representative their testimonies are…” but then continues to splash their testimonies over a long story.

  4. Israelinurse – good catch about Dana Golan – it shows once again the sly way in which the Guardian tries to hide important information from readers (usually in the form of water-down bios of its contributors).

    Whenever we start digging in and check the “facts” in the Guardian’s stories, is amazing with the reality we find.

  5. Harriet Sherwood likes to pick at scabs,and so does Shabby Rachel.

    There are beautiful Israeli’s who respect themselves and are proud of their state warts and all. Then there are the ugly ones like Shabby Rachel

    Why hasn’t Israel kicked Harriet Sherwood out of Israel,why are we tolerating her.WE should have a petition to kick her out of Israel and send it to Avigdor Lieberman.

  6. “I for one am very proud of all the amazing young women who serve their country so loyally. (And the boys, too, of course!)”

    Me too! And there is something special about the ladies!

  7. This piece from Haaretz in 2007 highlights the experiences of those young girl soldiers from very sheltered backgrounds who were suddenly faced with certain realities of the occupation and its administration. As expected, they took it badly, but notwithstanding having to relive the events for the benefit of Ms Sherwood, all seem to have full and interesting lives.

    The “revelations” that suspected wrongdoers are cuffed using plastic ties and blindfolded using material which is used for cleaning small- arms, should only upset the hypocrites. On the Net, countless photos can be seen of troops from the US, the UK and others adopting the same technique for the same purposes. As one might expect from the Guardian, it’s the context ( Palestinian prisoners, Israeli guards) that matters.

  8. “I for one am very proud of all the amazing young women who serve their country so loyally. (And the boys, too, of course!)”

    Me too. And they are all absolutely gorgeous. Duvidl is glad he doesn’t have to live in the US with Helen Thomas, although being on the same planet is bad enough.