Many have been unable to resist comparing Eden Abergil, who posted on Facebook photos of herself as a soldier posing casually with blindfolded Palestinians, to Lynndie England. One difference among many: the role her gender has played in the debate.
Abergil, who completed her compulsory service a year ago — making her about 21 — is from working-class Ashdod. Her photo album was called "IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] – the best time of my life," and under one photo of her with blindfolded Palestinian men (said to be Gazans caught crossing illegally), her friend wrote, "You're the sexiest like that." She responded, "I wonder if he's got Facebook!...I have to tag him in the picture!"
Now, among many other things that are wrong here, this is obviously a grotesque application of the common habit of girls posting photos of themselves on Facebook seeking, and usually getting, affirmation that they are sexy. An Israeli military spokesman's take:
"These are disgraceful photos. Aside from matters of information security, we are talking about a serious violation of our morals and our ethical code and should this soldier be serving in active duty today, I would imagine that no doubt she would be court-martialed immediately," he told Associated Press Television News.
Abergil has defended herself, saying she still doesn't understand what's wrong with the photos. Meanwhile, an Israeli human rights group, Breaking The Silence, has countered that the photos are part of a "widespread phenomenon" of Israeli soldiers posting similar photos of themselves on Facebook, and have already compiled a few.
One thing that has not happened: so far as I can tell, apart from brilliant commenters on American websites who have debated Abergil's relative attractiveness and made comments about the size of her thighs, Abergil has not become the symbol of a fallen woman, a brazen slut, or a cold and heartless example of what happens when women take up guns. Yes, her images have probably drawn more attention because of her gender. Seeing a woman in army fatigues behave in an allegedly unfeminine and possibly cruel way shocks more people than if it were a man.