The Gaza Strip! IDF Girls Gone Wild! These are some of the nicknames for the recent scandal sparked by Facebook photos and video of semi-nude female IDF soldiers, striking poses and dancing on IDF bases and inside IDF facilities, in some cases carrying weapons and sporting (parts of) IDF uniforms. These stories seemed to be everywhere — including at the Forward.
Don’t blame the media — sex sells. Combine nearly-naked young women, guns, and the almost clichéd fetishization of the IDF female soldier, and you’ve got a story guaranteed to go global. And don’t be too tough on the women involved, who no doubt never intended to be seen as representing (or demeaning) the IDF. People all over the world, especially teenagers, regularly do really stupid things, increasingly on camera. Welcome to the age of phone cameras and social media.
Fortunately, this flashy, tawdry story isn’t the only recent news about women in the IDF. There’s another story that the media would do well to highlight. This is the one in which young Israeli women are speaking out, candidly and courageously, about their experience enforcing the occupation as part of an Israeli initiative called Breaking the Silence (BTS). Last month BTS launched a campaign focused on testimonies from female soldiers. These testimonies present a very different face and voice of Israel’s female combatants. Watch and listen to people like Dana, Inbar, Tal, Gil and Yael, explain why they are speaking out. Then take the time to listen to some of their stories to understand better the experiences that drove them to do so.