UPDATE 8:50am: A discussion in Hebrew is unfolding on one of the pictures posted by Btselem. Commenters are pointing out that the picture is of a drill and not an actual operation. Both of the detainees are wearing IDF uniforms and the format appears to be instructional. Btselem argues that the drill is still dehumanizing. Commenters also questioned why other photos, showing Palestinian insurgents receiving medical treatment, are controversial. Btselem argues that the importance is not the action, but that wounded Palestinians are being photographed and posted to Facebook. What's interesting is that one of the commenters is Facebook friends with Shatil, Economic Empowerment for Women, and the New Israel Fund. She's hardly a classical right-winger.
UPDATE 8:15am: Btselem has posted 11 photos on Facebook taken in the presence of Palestinian detainees or casualties. Photos are being continuously uploaded, though it's unclear if these are pictures being sent in by users or if Btselem is releasing them as it discovers them. It does not specify how many separate individuals are behind each photo (faces are blurred), and nine out of tens of thousands of IDF soldiers is hardly a trend. But the point is that Btselem is making the case that this should be a topic of public discussion in Israel. In that sense, it is right.
Both Haaretz and JPost report that an ex-IDF soldier has posted photos on her Facebook posed next to Palestinian detainees, with friends making comments such as "Its sexiest for you like that" under a picture of the soldier mock kissing a blindfolded detainee. The detainees evidently were individuals captured attempting to infiltrate Israel from Gaza. The pictures are mixed in with other innocuous photos from the soldier's IDF service. Philip Zimbardo, eat your heart out.
What these photos indicate is not just that there is a bad apple in the IDF. True, most IDF soldiers are more intelligent than to post pictures of themselves with detainees on Facebook, and this soldier does not represent all IDF soldiers. The post below can attest to that. However, this one incident is indicative of a greater trend of disrespect towards Palestinians. Here are the translated comments of two photos in question:
Friend: hahahahahahahahahahahahaha all of my loves in one picture!! My heart is beating so hard!!
Friend: It's sexiest for you like that... :)
Soldier: Haha I know. Whoa mama what a day that was, look how he completes the picture for me. It would be interesting if he had Facebook. I have to tag him in the picture. Hahaha.
Friend:Hahahahahahahaha you're mental.
...it's interesting who took the pictureeeeee.
Friend 2: [Soldiers name], he's erect for you...hahaha check it out.
Soldier: No sweetie he's erect for YOUU, that's why I took a picture of it hahaha. You photographed me!!!
The key measure of the IDF response will be whether the incident is viewed in the context of the professionalism of the IDF or simply a Hasbara disaster (it is both). What's posted is posted. But the deeper issue here is the attitude of Israeli soldiers towards Palestinians. What steps will the IDF take to dispel the notion that Palestinian detainees are less than human? The world will be watching closely. So will American Jews. And Israel will be judged by what it does, not how it justifies.