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Besotted with violence and dope: Israel’s soldiers


Golani Brigade soldier Osher Maman, who came from a troubled youth in Florida, posts photos of himself breaking Israeli military law and playing with weapons in irresponsible ways. This was posted at http://instagram.com/p/UmFP51P4JJ/ and has since been removed.

Stoned, naked, armed and dangerous: more disturbing images from an Israeli soldier’s Instagram
By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada
February 20, 2013

As Mor Ostrovski’s now infamous Instagram image of a Palestinian child in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle generated disgust around the world, the Israeli army claimed that the photograph was “a severe incident which doesn’t accord with the IDF’s spirit and values.”

It is understandable that an occupation army that markets itself as the “most moral army in the world” would attempt such damage control.

Those who follow matters closely know that the photograph was an apt symbol for the Israeli army’s contempt for the lives of Palestinian children, as well as for the total impunity soldiers accused of crimes against Palestinian civilians enjoy. Even in terms of “misuse” of social media, it was no isolated incident.

Israeli soldiers’ use of social media has given a unique insight into an “army” that functions more like a rabble – with soldiers misusing weapons, breaking laws, and expressing violent and extreme views and posting images of themselves doing it online.

From troubled Florida youth to the Israeli army

A case in point is Osher Maman, another 20-year-old Israeli soldier currently enlisted in the “elite” Golani Brigade.

Maman’s Instagram account currently includes 549 images which show, among other things, images of him mishandling weapons and breaking military laws. The earliest date from April 2012 and the most recent from today. An illustrative selection – with tags where he included them – are used throughout this post. Maman also expresses deeply racist and even genocidal views towards Palestinians and Arabs. (Note: following publication of this article, Maman has deleted his various social media accounts).

A 21 January 2012 tweet from Osher Maman’s now deleted Twitter account.

Maman, who grew up in Naples, Florida after his family left Israel a decade ago, made the news in 2006 when as a 14-year-old he brought a BB gun given to him by his parents to school and used it to threaten two girls.

Maman also has an adult criminal history with records of arrests in February 2011 and in May 2011 for “trespassing on school grounds.”

“Hitman”
Osher Maman’s Facebook page, which features many of the same images that can be seen on his Instagram account but also goes back earlier, identifies him as a former student of Barron Collier High School in Naples, Florida, and uses the nickname “Eazybaby” which resembles the name of his Instagram account eazybaby310.

An Osher Maman was a member of the graduating high school class of 2010 according to the Naples Daily News on 5 June 2010.
Maman’s Facebook bio says: “From israel to Miami to the I.D.F Kik: eazybaby310 An active assassin/hitman” and he identifies himself as a member of Barak, the 12th Battalion of the supposedly “elite” Golani brigade. This is corroborated by many images he has posted of weapons, uniforms and other military paraphernalia bearing the insignia of this battalion.

Maman wrote a message on Facebook on 13 August 2011:

im leaving to the israeli army this monday, just wanted to say.. fuck the police, fuck barron collier high school and all the staff, fuck all the judges, fuck all you little hater faggots that blow up my fb and phone talking shit, fuck the bitches that cheated on me, fuck the virus i just got on my computer and whoever created it, fuck you fuck you fuck you, whos next…

One year later, Maman celebrated the anniversary of his move in another Facebook status:

So one year ago i moved here to join the army… Im not gonna make up some bullshit glorious story to break your heart… I just did it to beat up terrorists and shit… Happy one year anniversary Mmmmmffffffckasss!!!

Not exactly a boy scout

An image he posted of its insignia indicates that Maman was recruited directly from the United States via “Garin Tzabar” a program that recruits Jews and Israelis from overseas into the army. Maman identifies himself as a Garin Tzabar member on his Google Plus account.

A comment made on a website dedicated to Garin Tzabar, from the Facebook account of Maman’s mother, Batya Sabag, a social media consultant in Naples, Florida, also identifies her son as a graduate of the program.

One of the requirements of the Garin Tzabar program is a “Certificate of Good Conduct (proof of no prior criminal record).”

This military recruitment program for the Israeli occupation army is run by the Israel Scouts.

According to an image posted by Maman, on 5 April 2012 his military service had begun 138 days previously (which would be November 2011) and will end on 19 November 2014.

When Maman was arrested and charged in the BB gun incident – classified by authorities as a weapon, not a toy, his father, Zion Maman, told media that “the culture in Israel has a more relaxed view about toy guns.”

That relaxed view extends to real guns, mortars, grenades and all sorts of other heavy weapons that Osher Maman is seen handling, sometimes naked, and using as toys and props in disturbing images he posted online.

These images suggest that the Israeli army exercises little control or discipline over weapons.

Images posted on Maman’s Instagram account show him smoking marijuana in uniform and on duty, in direct contravention of Israeli army order “33.011 – Use of Drugs – procedures for report, detention, and initiating a military police investigation.” Military order 33.011 states that the use of drugs, including hashish, “constitutes a criminal offense and harms the army, so this order does not leave room for the commanders’ discretion.” It adds that, “All soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces are prohibited from possessing drugs, taking them, or trading in them.”

What does it mean that the Israeli army recruits a soldier, with a dubious history, who is stupid enough to post images of himself committing more criminal offenses?

Is this a man who should be handling – playing with – lethal weapons in any circumstances? Or does it mean that this Most Moral Army so lacks discipline that soldiers like Maman can break the law without fear of consequences?

A lust for violence and genocidal hatred of Arabs
Osher Maman freely expresses his deep, even genocidal hatred of Palestinians and his desire to see them oppressed and killed. Responding to a comment on one of his images, for example, Maman told the commenter

Lmao for all I care you can comment all my pictures, you’re still a fucking Arab pile of shit, you even smell like it. You’re never going to win over israel (the chosen people) bc you’re a bunch of slaves, shit I probably am the slave master of some Arab who’s related to you… An you all will stay trapped in gaza and every little shittt village that you Palestinians have inside of israel. And you will continue to go to our jails and to have your houses broken in to. Basically your life will be shit until you all die, so go ahead and have fun commenting on my pictures of that’s going to make your death a little better

In addition to the endless stream of photos of himself and his buddies posing with guns, Maman shares images and slogans glorifying violence, especially, of course, against Palestinians.

Osher Maman is not a “rotten apple.” He, along with Mor Ostrovski – the author of the infamous photo of the boy in the crosshairs – is another symbol of the occupation army under whose arbitrary and dictatorial rule Palestinians have been forced to live for decades.

It is soldiers just like these who whine to the Israeli media that they can’t be more brutal and violent against Palestinians because cameras are watching them.

It is soldiers just like these who are responsible, though never punished or held to account, for the killings of Palestinian children like Samir Awad, Salih al-Amarin and Muhammad al-Salaymeh, young men like Mustafa Tamimi and Rushdi Tamimi and young women like Lubna Hanash among so many thousands more.

With thanks to Benjamin Doherty for research and to Dena Shunra for research, translation and analysis.


Israeli soldier posts disturbing Instagram photo of child in crosshairs of his rifle
By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada
February 15, 2013

This disturbing image shows the back of the head of a child or young man as seen in the crosshairs of a rifle. The photo was posted on the personal Instagram account of Mor Ostrovski, a 20-year old Israeli soldier in a sniper unit.

The context – particularly the character of the buildings seen in the background of the image – strongly suggests the child could be Palestinian.

There are no other images to suggest that the photographer actually fired at the person in the image in this case. The image is simply tasteless and dehumanizing. It embodies the idea that Palestinian children are targets.

It reminded me of a chilling account another Israeli soldier gave to the group Breaking the Silence about how Israeli soldiers in Nablus in 2006-2007 would deliberately fire at children, sometimes using live ammunition and sometimes rubber-coated steel bullets:

Where do you aim? Do you choose some kid at random?
Yes. Choose someone, aim at his body.
Body?
Center of mass.
10 meters’ range at the center of mass?
I remember one time we put a kid down. We didn’t kill him but someone hit the kid in the chest and he fell and probably lost consciousness, or at least, it was pretty close. About 10 meters.

Although this and other accounts documented by Breaking the Silence amount to war crimes, no judicial investigations have taken place to bring those responsible to justice.

Recently, Benjamin Doherty pointed out how the Israeli army has wittingly and unwittingly used Instagram and other social media to promote itself. These images, which Doherty calls “war sporno” use “male and female bodies to eroticize the military, to displace violence against Palestinians, to encourage Western publics to identify with Israeli soldiers.”

Ostrovski’s account includes other images of himself and his weapons: [click headline above]

Update, 17 February: Israeli army says sniper photo exposed by EI is a “severe incident”

The photo at the top of this post, of a child in the gunsights of an Israeli sniper, published on the Instragram account of Israeli soldier Mor Ostrovski, went viral on the Internet and in global media after The Electronic Intifada exposed it. Now the Israeli army has been forced to respond.

Israel’s Ynet reported:

The IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit said that

[T]his is a severe incident which doesn’t accord with the IDF’s spirit and values. The issue was brought to the attention of the soldier’s commanding officers, will be examined and properly handled.

It was one of two recent incidents of Israeli soldiers posting abusive images on social media, the website said.

The statement by the army cannot be taken as an indication of real accountability or concern – the fact is that Israeli soldiers are almost never properly investigated or punished for harming Palestinians, let alone for such photos.

The army’s concern should, however, be seen as a sign of embarrassment that such photos harm its attempts to conceal the brutal and dehumanizing nature inherent in Israeli occupation and colonial rule over Palestinians and to deceptively market the “IDF” as “the most moral army in the world.”

Update, 19 February: Images of Mor Ostrovski’s now deleted Instagram account

Following the global publicity his photo received, Ostrovski deleted his Instagram account.

Click here for collection of Mor Ostrovski’ photos, too large to be displayed here clearly.

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