Earlier this week, photographs of a group of female Israeli soldiers "loving the camera" in a variety of "sexy" poses were uploaded to Facebook. The photos, in one of which the girls were posing in their underwear with their guns, soon reached the press worldwide and caused an embarrassment to the IDF and its image.
This incident follows a list of previous inappropriate Internet conduct. In February, an IDF soldier posted a photograph of a Palestinian boy in the crosshairs of his rifle drew harsh criticism. In 2010, a male IDF soldier was filmed dancing around a bound Palestinian woman. And these are merely a few examples.
These photos were widely used by anti-Israeli organizations as proof of "the real face of the IDF," and since people tend to believe scandals and "leaks" more than the words of the "establishmen" these added quite an amount of work for the pro-Israeli advocates. The soldiers were punished, the IDF continued its fine work in protecting our country, but the public only remembered those images.
Since we all must enlist, but not all want to or understand the meaning of being a soldier, the unfortunate outcome is, well, this. Imagine having to stop your life for two or three years, right after graduating high school, and instead of partying and enjoying life at college, you would have to wear a uniform, carry a gun and take orders. For some of us, it is a difficult, yet possible transformation to undergo, but for others, it is practically mission impossible.
These soldiers couldn't take the burden, and chose the wrong way to deal with it. They thought they were just having some fun, goofing around, but it all resulted in them disgracing themselves and disgracing our Defense Forces. And by disgracing the IDF, they disgraced us, too. Former soldiers like myself, and current soldiers, like my brother, who, when wearing the uniform for the first time, took upon ourselves the responsibilities of being Israeli soldiers. Protecting the ones you love and your fellow Israelis while putting aside the life you wished you had at the age of 18, because this is the kind of sacrifice being an Israeli requires from you.
These young men and women who posted these provocative photos are not the real face of the IDF. My brother, who returns home once every three weeks tired and tanned, my uncle, who leaves his wife and kids once every couple of months for his reserve (Milu'im) duty, my father, who served for 20-odd years as an officer, my friends, myself, and the hundreds of thousands of young men and women who know what being an IDF soldier means, we are the real IDF.
I salute the IDF soldiers for keeping me safe, and for putting their personal business on hold for me and for my fellow Israelis. Join me in the appreciation for them, and don't let a small group clowns in uniform define an entire group of heroes.