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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Facebook controversy

The story of photos of IDF soldiers posing with Palestinian Arab prisoners is exploding.

It started yesterday when images of a former soldier surfaced. She had placed the pictures on her Facebook page with her smiling in front of prisoners. These photos were nowhere near what we saw at Abu Ghraib, yet the anti-Israel crowd came out in force.

The IDF released what can only be considered an extraordinary video denunciation of the incident:



An argument can be made that this was overblown even by the IDF. The girl in the pictures was not doing anything to demean the prisoners; the fact is that nowadays, 19-year olds will put up everything on Facebook - here I am at the beach, here I am in my kitchen, here I am at work. Her job might have been extraordinary but it is normal human psychology to get used to the circumstances you are in and regard it as routine.

But now, Breaking the Silence has released other photos that are much worse. There is simply no justification and no excuse for these photos and for treating Arab prisoners this way, no matter what they had done. This is not how a professional army should act, ever, and it must be condemned in the strongest terms and the people involved should be punished.

Even though this is a despicable story, and one that might very well get worse, I am still struck at the hypocrisy from the supposedly outraged Arabs and their supporters.

The initial set of relatively innocuous photos were described as "despicable," "shameful" and "repulsive" by the IDF.

Can you imagine any act that any Arab could do against any Israeli that would be so reprehensible that a Palestinian Arab leader would use those words to describe it?

If a tiny Islamist terror group would pop up and systematically rape Israeli infants before ripping them limb from limb on video, would we ever hear a condemnation from any Arab leader that would approach the IDF's reaction to pictures of a girl smiling in front of prisoners? On the contrary - they would close ranks, and the worst possible condemnation would be (as it always has been after the most horrific terror attacks) that such actions "hurt the Palestinian cause."

As far as I know, no Palestinian Arab leader has ever condemned any terror attack because it was immoral. Kids blown up in ice cream parlors, pizza shops or at school were perfunctorily and emotionlessly "condemned" in order to appease the Americans. But never did Arafat or Abbas or Fayyad or Erekat or anyone else say that a terror attack was wrong for any other reason than that it made their side look bad. Quite the opposite - the terrorists are lionized, their schemes considered heroic, and schools and camps and streets are named after them.

The photos we are seeing seem to show something severely lacking in how the IDF teaches its code of conduct. They cannot be excused. The incidents need to be taken seriously and the people behind them need to be punished.

However, these incidents show us once again the enormity of the gap between the morality of the IDF and of her enemies, as well as the light-years between how the world expects Israelis to act and how Arabs are expected to act.