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Why has an Israeli Soldier’s Instagram Photo Sparked More Outrage than Israeli War Crimes?


The Instagram photo posted by an Israeli soldier showing what appears to be a Palestinian child in the crosshairs of his rifle has sparked outrage, as it should. Ali Abunimah was the first to report on this at the Electronic Intifada and it has since gone viral with major news outlets picking up the story.

Instagram photo posted by 20-year-old Israeli sniper, Mor Ostrovski. (Source: Electronic Intifada)

This photo is not only disgusting but it’s also symbolic of the callousness with which Israel views Palestinian lives. Still, I find it unsettling that this picture has elicited far more outrage than the routine killing of unarmed Palestinian civilians ever has.

Where was this outrage last month when Israeli soldiers shot dead four unarmed Palestinians, among them children, in under a week?

Where is this outrage when Israeli soldiers drop bombs on Palestinian babies, use Palestinian civilians as human shields and massacre entire families?

This picture is not, as some would like to believe, the product of one bad apple among many good soldiers. It’s the product of decades of dehumanization that is inherent in military occupation. Just ask Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli soldiers committed to shedding light of the routine abuse of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers. “This is what occupation looks like. This is what military control over a civilian population looks like,” wrote one member of the organization in a Facebook comment about the Instagram photo.

Yes, this photo should certainly spark outrage but so should the war crimes that precipitated it. In fact, I would argue that anyone surprised by the photo is absolutely clueless about what occupation and dominance over another people means.

I recall a similar uproar in response to American soldiers keeping body parts of Afghans they murdered as trophies. The same type of controversy erupted when a video surfaced showing US soldiers urinating on Afghan corpses. Meanwhile, just last week a NATO airstrike killed 10 Afghan civilians, including five women and four children, and barely anyone noticed.

As David Swanson observed on Twitter, “It’s not the murder we’re supposed to oppose but the photography, urination, mutilation, and inappropriate flag use.”

  1. walt kovacs #

    blah, blah, blah

    the world is sick of arabs…deal with it

    better yet…scream allah hu akbar and collectively fall on your swords and become shahid and make the world a better place

    February 19, 2013
  2. brennan #

    Israel might be sick of Arabs but the world is sick of Israel!
    Your time is running out my friend.. People are waking up to the criminals running your government. Enjoy your racist trolling while you can.

    February 19, 2013
  3. Subhan Allah!

    February 19, 2013
  4. One death is a tradgedy (picture), many deaths is a statistic (killings).

    People seem to respond more viscerally to the individual.

    February 20, 2013
  5. Peter Cohen #

    People aren’t outraged about Israeli war crimes for one simple reason: they don’t know about them. The US media systematically refuses to cover them. That said, this image sums up very neatly the reality of millions of people and it may have its small place in the history of the fall of the world’s worst existing system of ethnic Apartheid.

    February 20, 2013
  6. I wrote about this too, with a bit of a different take. However, your point about people being more upset at this photo than the deaths of actual people is worth noting.

    February 21, 2013
  7. Todd Millions #

    This was at least wry-note the position of the cross hairs,with the trigger NOT being pulled.Any attempt by idf members to restrain their inner circumsized nazi is to be noted and applauded at this point,even if it doesn’t go far up the comand chain-see;Mgr Von Krunder .Lebenon.-our arse owned by the bromfman’s canadian pm war crimminal Harper,had NO problem with his murder.’How support the troops’.

    February 23, 2013

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