They’re probably 18 or 19 years old and they’re having fun. They are not hurting anybody and they’re not being violent, hostile or demeaning. In contrast with the propagandist who put the comments on the Youtube video, it seems the reason the street is empty is that the hour is first light of day and the first call of the mu’azzin.

And yet, it seems these young men don’t understand the meaning of their standing and dancing for joy while wearing military garb and carrying weapons in an area which has a majority Arab, non-Israeli population. It’s a small thing and can even be read as nothing more than childishness reflecting youth, joy and humor. On the other hand, it reflects a callousness to the meaning of having to be a civilian under somebody else’s military rule and a view of the ones under their military rule as “others.” It may be necessary, but having Israeli troops in the midst of another population has a slow and insidious effect on them and the country as a whole, if only because it engenders insensitivity and callousness towards those who have no choice but to live under the rule of their conquerors.

The soldiers are being punished by their officers. I get why they should be punished, but the problem isn’t with the soldiers, it’s with the untenable situation.

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themiddle

13 Comments

  • So, in other words, you are saying ‘the occupation corrupts’?

    Not. Soldiers have been doing this since there were soldiers. War sucks, got to blow off steam sometime.

    You know what really has a slow and insidious effect on them and the country as a whole, ??? Being under a constant threat of terror since being born. Non-combatants are forced to be vigilant from the age of kindergarten even until getting into golden age homes. That is what engenders insensitivity and callousness towards those who have no choice but to live under the rule of their conquerors.

  • We agree about much of what you wrote, Josh, but I think you’re being disingenuous by suggesting that there isn’t some sort of pernicious effect on Israelis because they have to rule, with the military, over another people. I’m not discussing, by the way, whether it’s necessary, but I am questioning how it affects people who are soldiers with the authority bearing arms confers on them when they have to enter the neighborhoods and cities of another people day after day and night after night for 43 years.

  • This was funny and totally harmless. It’s pointless to read anything more into it than that.

    • I thought there were some unintentional layers in there. But yes, it was funny and I suspect their officers were chuckling while reprimanding them.

      • Well, the video has hit the local and national US news. In the couple of reports I’ve seen, it is seen as a funny blowing off of steam and nothing else.

  • Was the music really playing that loud on the street?

    If Muslims weren’t restricted from drinking alcohol the conflict would have been resolved long ago.

  • Usually I am the one who blows things out of proportions – or so i am told. But really. Really? This is about the funniest thing that has come out Israel since Salah Shabati. Ok, maybe that is an stretch. But the thing is viral, Israels looks like HUMANS instead of monsters. I think that the soldiers should be awarded medals from the Misrad HaCHtuz.

  • I served as a fighter in Hebron in 2002. I promise you it’s worse for the 18, 19 and 20+ year olds forced to risk their lives serving there than it is for the occupied (albeit it’s definitely pretty rough for them too).

    I look forward to the day when the threat of attacks ceases and the lives of these young soldiers need no longer be interrupted, and jeopardized.

    Until then, good for them if they can find a bit of fun amidst a dangerous, brutal and exhausting period of their youth – a period for which none of them asked.

  • Well, TM – Congrats on the NYT appearance!!

    If I may rephrase what I think you said – and I agree: We wish the world would stop holding our soldiers up to ridiculous, impossibly high standards…and yet it’s not a bad thing if we have these standards for ourselves. The problem, of course, besides the fact that such vigilance totally precludes having any sense of humor, is that unfortunately much of the world waits for Jews to criticize themselves tothen have legitimacy to jump in on the fun. It doesn’t mean we should become less introspective. It just means that this introspection comes at a price which must be calculated into its value a priori.

    BTW – Maybe a more humanizing and less contentious video to viralize would be one like my husband filmed in Gaza back in 2002 or so, of his battalion playing soccer with some kids from Rafiah. There are dozens of these around, videos with a kind of Hurt Locker vibe of human interaction with local kids, which might communicate humanity without at the same time seeming callous.

  • You know, my intention isn’t to impugn the soldiers who made the video. I understand that to them, this was innocent and harmless fun. Nobody was hurt, they made a lot of people laugh and they timed it so that they were not seen by anybody who was there. In this sense, it bothers me that my brief comments are being used to represent the “dark” viewpoint of this video. But to me, this video is a reflection of how Israel has become used to having soldiers and an entire way of life in the midst of another people. If anything, this video is SAD for that reason, not pernicious. Being the military authority in there is pernicious, even if there is no realistic alternative right now.

    I discuss some of these ideas in this post and the discussion that follows.

  • Must admit I am not living in occupied territory but watching the video it humanises the soldiers. Instead of just patroling with guns at the ready the video surprisingly and delightfully remind us that sometimes life is fun.

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