There is no excuse for the manner in which voices on the Left have chosen to vilify the entire nation because of Abergil’s indiscretion.
By MICHAEL FREUND
Earlier this week, the world was treated to yet another scurrilous attempt to besmirch the Jewish state’s image and slander an entire nation.Only this time, the perpetrators of the outrage were neither Palestinian propagandists nor European socialists, but several of our very own.The tumult began after the publication of some appalling photos from former IDF soldier Eden Abergil’s Facebook page.In the shots, Abergil is seen posing alongside blindfolded and bound Palestinian prisoners, gazing at the lens as if oblivious to how such scenes can and might be construed. Sure enough, the young soldier’s bad taste and unsound moral judgment, as captured by the camera, quickly took on a life of their own.The Israeli and international press seized upon the material and trumpeted it far and wide, as though they had uncovered the secret formula used to make Vanilla Coke.Here, after all, was “proof” of the dastardly side of the Israelis, or so they would like us to believe.Indeed, in one particularly outrageous dispatch, the Associated Press went so far as to suggest that the photos “were a reminder of snapshots taken in 2003 by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that showed Iraqi detainees naked, humiliated and terrified.”AdvertisementFrankly, the AP’s own reporting is a “reminder” of the kind of propaganda regularly issued by dubious NGOs rather than intelligent and evenhanded journalism.IN THEIR mad rush to share this story with a global audience, few journalists took the time to ask themselves a simple yet highly relevant question: so what if one foolish young girl took some outrageous photos? It may speak volumes about Abergil herself, but it says nothing about the organization to which she belonged any more than it does when one professor or lawyer – or for that matter a journalist – acts in a degenerate or depraved manner.Simply put, to elevate this story to international prominence is to blow it wildly and entirely out of proportion.Sadly, however, the lopsided reaction by much of the mainstream media comes as no surprise. For years, Israel has been subjected to such treatment, with little regard for fairness or accuracy.But what is especially galling about this episode are the reactions that came in its wake from various quarters on Israel’s Left, some of whom saw this furor as a ripe opportunity to bash their own country.Take, for example, the group “Breaking the Silence”. In a statement released on Tuesday, this merry band of Israeli peaceniks declared almost gleefully that Abergil’s photos represent “a widespread phenomenon”.Asserting that they embody more than the “ugly behavior of just one person,” the group insisted that Abergil’s deeds were “the norm” in the Israel Defense Forces! “The norm”? Are these people smoking something? Not to be outdone, another Israeli outfit calling itself the Public Committee Against Torture was also quick to respond.The organization’s director, Yishai Menuchin, proclaimed that, “The horrible pictures demonstrate a norm” – there’s that word again – “of treating Palestinians like objects instead of human beings – treatment that disregards their feelings as humans and their right to privacy.”And so, in one fell swoop, Menuchin and his ilk paint the entire Israeli army, and by extension all of Israeli society, with the brush of extremism and cruelty. All because of the actions of one person! Someone should perhaps inform Menuchin and his comrades that issuing such outlandish statements maligning Israel’s image are no less a form of mistreatment and abuse.They paint a false and even libelous picture of the state of affairs in Israel’s military, which upholds the highest standards of morality of any armed force on the planet.And they feed anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism the world over.ISRAEL’S NUMEROUS foes naturally seize upon these kinds of reckless and irresponsible statements with glee, pointing to them as evidence that the Jewish state is worthy of condemnation and censure.If self-styled Israeli human rights groups are saying such things, they argue, then it must be true that the Jewish state is unsavory and ruthless.Moreover, the left-wingers give added steam to the story, enabling journalists to keep it alive for a few more news cycles by feeding them with some succulent anti-Israel rancor they are only too happy to print. And that serves only to fan the flames of hatred still further.Hence, in the wake of this incident, it is in fact Israel’s Left which needs to do some serious soul-searching.They should look themselves in the mirror and ask what it is that motivates them time and again to undermine and weaken the country they claim to love. And just what they hope to gain by washing Israel’s dirty laundry in public for all the world to see.Sure, there are plenty of things about this country that need to be aired in public forums. All too often, that is the only way to bring about change.But there is no excuse for the manner in which voices on the Left have chosen to vilify and smear the entire nation because of Eden Abergil’s rashness and indiscretion.That’s not mature whistle-blowing – it is childish name-calling, pure and simple.And in a world that is increasingly hostile to the Jewish state and its very existence, it is a highly dangerous game that none of us can afford to be playing.
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