In Israel over the weekend, a so-called “groundbreaking” story emerged.
Eden Aberjil, a female Israeli soldier (who has finished her required time in the army) posted pictures to Facebook that were widely considered disrespectful and offensive.
The pictures displayed Aberjil posing in front of several Palestinian men. The men were prisoners, therefore blindfolded and handcuffed. Naturally outraged, Palestinian leaders quickly condemned the IDF and Aberjil, comparing the photos to those taken at the Abu Gharib prison in Baghdad (in 2004). IDF spokesman Barak Raz also denounced the photos, saying “we are talking about a serious violation of our morals and our ethical code.” Journalists almost universally expressed similar concerns.
But– momentarily– let me speak to you as a teenager.
When I have an experience with my friends– going to the beach, taking a trip to Israel, visiting a friend in another city– we take pictures. When we do something new, we take pictures. When we do something invigorating, we take pictures. And then we post them to Facebook so that everyone can comment and “like” our pictures.
Obviously, Aberjil’s experience wasn’t a walk on the beach or a weekend road trip to San Diego. It was much more controversial and eccentric. In fact, I would argue that it was wrong and immoral. I don’t think that she had nefarious intentions, but I do think that it showed poor judgement on her part. But that’s where I’d like to point something out.
Israeli soldiers are eighteen, nineteen, twenty years old. They are taken straight out of high school and placed into one of the most rigorous training programs in the military world. Once they are wearing that deep green uniform, they are immediately held to an exceptionally high ethical code. As they should be.
But as hard as it may be to imagine, they are teenagers. They are youth. We hope and pray that the people defending the state of Israel will not break the rules and will be sensible, mature adults. But the world is so shocked when a young Israeli soldier makes a poor, naive decision. Why isn’t the world prepared for that? They are teenagers. There’s a reason that you can’t drink until you’re twenty-one in the United States. It’s because that’s when the brain starts to fully develop.
Why are we so shocked when teenagers behave like teenagers? We should be constantly impressed by the soldiers who don’t do childish things, and be cautious of people like Eden Aberjil. I’m not saying to hold soldiers to a lower standard. I’m saying that when someone acts their age, the action they performed shouldn’t be a rude awakening.
I’m sorry if this wasn’t the post you wanted to read, but I believe it’s the truth.