Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Girl, a Gun, and a Prayer Book

on duty
Universal conscription for Israeli citizens is a fact of life there. Which is not to say that military service is easy. However, in a country beset on all sides, each able-bodied citizen must take part in its defense.

Rachel Papo served her time in the Israeli Army. An American citizen who was raised in Israel, she later returned to the US to pursue her education in photography.

As part of her master’s thesis, she went back to Israel fifteen years later to photograph the young women currently on active duty:

Walking onto an army base after all these years was very disorienting, as memories began to surface, and blend with feelings of estrangement. The girls who I encountered during these visits were disconnected from the outside world, completely absorbed in their paradoxical reality. They spoke a language now foreign to me, using phrases like “Armored Cavalry Regiment” and “Defense Artillery.” Would it have made any difference to explain to them that in a few years the only thing they might remember is their serial number? Photographing these soldiers, I saw my reflection; I was on the other side of a pane of glass-observing a world that I had once been a part of, yet I could not go back in time or change anything. It felt like a dream.

Anthropologists would call what she did a kind of participant observation. But it was more than that, and more than simply a bittersweet sentimental journey. Ms. Papo captured a slice of life that not many young women encounter. Her book is not only aesthetically appealing, it is of historical value.

The photographs from her travels to Army bases is now available as a book, Serial No. 3817131 (Ms.Papo’s serial number. I don’t suppose anyone who has served in the military ever forgets that identity).

The pictures are sometimes haunting, sometimes surreal, often touching. These are images of vibrant young women and they make a stunning contrast to the usual cheesecake photos of girls their age. At the same time, many of these girls are just as pretty, just as desirable as any artificially arranged images of erotica. In fact, for men who are comfortable qua men these women are probably more appealing.

After the fold, I’ve listed the links to thumbnails of her photographs, her website, and the page where her book is advertised. Be sure to see the images there, also.
- - - - - - - - -
Thumbnails are here.

The home page for Ms. Papo’s Israeli photos is here. The image on that page is one of the pictures I consider surreal.

It is also the cover photo on the book, available here.

This link will bring you to the publisher’s page of flowing images from the book. It is a powerful, dream-like display, almost like holding the book in your hand.

Ms Papo says of her book, her “project”:

The photographs in this project serve as a bridge between past and present-a combination of my own recollections and the experiences of the girls who I observed. Each image embodies traces of things that I recognize, illuminating fragments of my history, striking emotional chords that resonate within me. In some way, each is a self-portrait, depicting a young woman caught in transient moments of introspection and uncertainty, trying to make sense of a challenging daily routine. In striving to maintain her gentleness and femininity, the soldier seems to be questioning her own identity, embracing the fact that two years of her youth will be spent in a wistful compromise.

Youth itself is transient and uncertain. Youth trained to war and facing the prospect of boredom or death is lived on another plane entirely.

38 comments:

spackle said...

I know this is totally shallow but I had to throw in this compliment to the woman of the Israeli army. They have some of the most beautiful soldiers I have ever wanted to be shot at by. In my early 20s I dated a girl who was the daughter of a Hasidic Rabbi from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She was a real rebel.Black clothes, big black boots with a penchant for Punk and Metal music and drop dead gorgeous. We eventually broke up as she was a little to butch for me. I like them a little soft around the edges.

Later on she moved to Israel and joined the IDF. I saw a picture of her and her female comrads through a mutual freind and I was blown away! They all could have been models. The last I heard she had achieved a pretty high rank and made the IDF her permanent home.

Bela said...

I was always an ardent supporter of Israel and considered that country as a forward bastion of our civilization - until the advent of the Internet.
My post usually provoke angry retort so instead of saying anything please, do this simple test:
Go to Google and type these words:
"self loathing" , that's all.

There will be countless hit and all related to the Jewish people.
No self loathing Americans, French, Chinese....only self loathing Jews.
Question:
Why should I support Israel when the overwhelming majority of Jewish-Americans support Anti-American and Anti-Israel leftist Marxist Democrats?
Are you uninformed on their voting pattern?
Are you unaware of the countless leftist Jewish group that advocating the destruction of their own country?
It is now very clear that most Jews are Marxist first ,Jews second and I don't know at what extent consider themselves Americans in the light of their support for America-hating Obama.

I don't know if you ever spent a little time on the Israel newspaper "Haaretz" English Web edition? If you want to read hard core Nazi/Commie rants, self loathing, Antisemitism....the sewer from authentic Jewish sources...the place to go.

Conservative Swede said...

Bela,

I think you already made your position clear several times before.

Why should I support Israel when the overwhelming majority of Jewish-Americans support Anti-American and Anti-Israel leftist Marxist Democrats?

And with the same sort of reasoning, you cannot support Great Britain, France, Germany, etc. either. How come you forgot to mention that? Neither America of course, the country that have now appointed two anti-Americans, Obama and McCain, who desire to destroy their nation with accelerated mass immigration, etc. Why this obsession with Israel and the Jews?

spackle said...

Jesus christ supercop -

Holy smokes man. Take a chill pill and relax! All I did was write a lighthearted complimentary comment. You make it seem like there is something perverse going on here. And yes I do know that military service is mandatory, and why bother to paint a difference between the IDF and Israel? Since they are one in the same, I see no difference. I dont know why this topic got your dander up but it seems to me to be pretty much of a non - issue to get upset about.

Bela said...

Conservative swede:
"Why this obsession with Israel and the Jews?"
Ask the person who started this post it was not me.
My answer was well within the boundaries of the post's image and theme and I did not slander anybody.
I did not quite understand your reference about GB, France, and Germany. When I was still a European I took part in the armed uprising against the Russians and the Communists so am a crusader, emotionally more involved than most - given my background.

Armance said...

Bela, I'm just curious:

what uprising? It's been Hungary 1956 or more recently?

Conservative Swede said...

Bela,

I did not quite understand your reference about GB, France, and Germany. When I was still a European I took part in the armed uprising against the Russians and the Communists so am a crusader, emotionally more involved than most - given my background.

So with that background, maybe you should leave your tunnel vision for a while and learn about how the majority of the Brits are self-loathing anti-British, etc. Maybe you should leave your pet issue about Israel and start being concerned about that. There are good blogs writing about it, I would recommend Gates of Vienna. Take some time and read the articles there.

And in America the anti-American population have extracted out the two most possibly anti-American candidates from the whole range of candidates in the two primaries. What about that? Maybe Obama and McCain are Jews, what do you think? Maybe only Jews voted in the primaries...?

Bela said...

armance
Yes, it happened in 1956 in Hungary when I was a student. To tell the truth, I found it infuriating that after 50 years now I see the same Commie (liberal, progressive, Marxist) crowd gathering here that I mistakenly thought - had left behind for good.
On ideological matters we Eastern Europeans are far ahead of the curve because we already have left behind the horror what you are going to have as future... and soon.

Homophobic Horse said...

"learn about how the majority of the Brits are self-loathing anti-British, etc. "

I already mentioned this in the other thread ConSwede. Brits do not actively self-loathe - I know this because I'm one of them. They, like many 'Europeans' have no ethnic self-regard of any quality. You yourself have written this when you say 'Europeans are the least racist people in the world today'. Which is precisely my point, they can't be chauvinistic on behalf of something they have no conception of. I personally like to attribute this to, for instance, the criminal role of state education which entrusted the teaching of history to Cultural Marxists thus cutting out the living history taught by the family Patriarch/Matriarch.

Conservative Swede said...

HH,

Brits do not actively self-loathe - I know this because I'm one of them

I doesn't really matter how you go about it, does it? Active self-loathing, passive self-loathing or just straight-out apathy. The result is that the Brits are destroying Britain, quite as the Swedes are destroying Sweden, the Americans destroying America, etc.

Dymphna said...

spackle--

You're not being "shallow." You're being admiring. The ability to admire another person, or group, is a sign of maturity and compassion.

You also have a good sense of humor.

spackle said...

Dymphna-

Thank you and happy mothers day, especially to all those BEAUTIFUL IDF gals who happen to mom's.

Marianne said...

Jeez, maybe I'm too simpleminded, but I thought the whole idea of this post was just a small celebration of Israel's anniversary via the conduit of photography by one of its citizens. No more, no less.

Joanne said...

Unfortunately, Muslims consider female Israelis legitimate targets because of their service in the Israeli military - not that this would actually make a difference anyhow - probably just another irrational take on something rational.

The military is generally a man's world, with a lower percentage of women, so every man with a heartbeat and vision will be pleased by beauties in the male-dominated industry. I'm sure it breaks up the monotony, a least a little for both sexes.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Is there anyone here who hasn't disagreed with dymphna or the baron (or both) at some point? I'd go as far as to say I'm pretty sure they want people to disagree with them, intelligently and with well-thought-out arguments when necessary.

There's crit, and then there's being cranky. What's wrong with admiring good-looking women?

Must be the heat. Al gore was right!

spackle said...

"Admiring female IDF troops for their good looks is hardly mature."

This sounds like the kind of feminist PC nonsense that has got us into the trouble we now face. It is neither mature nor immature. It is just human. Lifes to short man. Dont be that guy who could suck the joy out of a three ringed circus.

Bela said...

The current world conflicts in the last 100 or so years are driven by strict ideology.
An open, sometimes hot, sometimes cold war between Socialist Totalitarianism and the believers of Free Society.
There are no other parties involved on the Euro-American landscape, so eventually all of us have to take stand. If GB or France or Sweden go under so be it: they deserve no better fate because they cheered for the Soviets while people were shot to death at the Iron Curtain.
Remember 1968!

My rage - let it be irrational or tunnel vision - goes against those I consider the Chief Ideologists or purveyors of Marxism-Leninism, Anti-Israelism, and Anti- Americanism in this country for I am living here and not elsewhere. Foot soldiers or epigones are not on my target list.
I am a frequent reader of Dave Horowitz's "Discover the network" a very informative web page, also I would recommend Masada 2000 because you can learn a lot about people who are behind the curtain.

http://www.masada2000.org/list-F.html

On lighter note:
Women Of Israeli Army #3
Compilation of images of women in the IDF.
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c03_1189254042

costin said...

Jesus Christ Super... JUST SHUT UP! Is there any point to all this?

wasn't this post supposed to be more about beautiful women and art than JCS?

Ayway, both the pictures and the girls are gorgeous.
Happy Mother's Day Dymphna!

Conservative Swede said...

Bela,

So where do you put Roosevelt and his "Uncle Joe" on this scale of yours? Roosevelt the main enabler of leaving half of Europe under Stalin. Nobody listened to Churchill that time either.

But this American tradition of Communism-hugging goes all the way back. Woodrow Wilson was elated by the first Russian revolution, and he didn't change his mind about it after Lenin and the Bolsheviks crushed the first revolution. Reads his famous 14 points speech. The speech was given in January 1918, at which time Lenin and the Bolsheviks were in power in Russia. Pay attention to how it's drenched in glorification of the "democratic" and "sincere" Russians (i.e. Lenin's Bolsheviks):

President Wilson's Fourteen Points
Read its introduction!

Were Wilson, Lenin, Roosevelt and Stalin part of a Jewish conspiracy?

I can also recommend Ann Coulter's Treason for more on American Communism-hugging. It goes very deep. Wilson and Lenin were not enemies, they were rivals. Their common enemy was the old monarchies of Europe, which America, European socialists and the Soviet Union collaborated in crushing. The old monarchies of Europe scared the Americans, while the Soviet Communists were egalitarians just as themselves, and considered possible to have a friendly dialog with -- Uncle Joes.

islam o' phobe said...

Unfortunately, Muslims consider female Israelis legitimate targets because of their service in the Israeli military

Uh I don't want to sound bad but are Arab Muslims supposed to not shoot at female IDF soldiers because its not chivalrous or something?

Afonso Henriques said...

Now I have a metaphisical question.

Why the hell are the Jews so polemical and why the hell do we, even at Gates of Vienna, always start to fight over the Jews?

It is puzzling...

Conservative Swede said...

Delete

Tuan Jim said...

Kinda hard to forget your serial number when it's your SSN :(

Bela said...

conswede:
To be absolute honest until my coming to the States I had no information on the American political landscape, more over
I was French speaker.
The Iron Curtain was leak-proof: Western radios were jammed, West. media was banned, Russian was taught in school and I was in political prison.

Only recently with the advent of abundance of information available that I started to learn the History that I lived through as true witness but I did not really comprehend its origin, and the individuals behind it.
This explains why I am a "single issue" poster: there were Nazi hunters and I am a powerless Commie hunter.
I never had the faintest idea as to Americans were Commie-hugging ...even now it sounds bizarre!
The more I learn the more I am astonished and I am unable to respond.
(A.Coulter is my favorite along with some other talk show hosts.)

I am shocked by the childish naivety with which Americans, supposedly educated people, willing to entrust the destiny of the nation to 3 idiots: a woman who incessantly giggling with always open mouth, a mulatto without any credential, and a confounded old man....
There will be lot of surprises in the near future. I mean bad ones.

gun-totin-wacko said...

Wow! It's been a long time since i've read all the comments on a GoV post. I think now I remember why...

Some of these comments are people looking to be offended. Here's a dose of what I see as reality.

First off, men admire women for their looks. It's the way we're wired. Deal with it.

Secondly, there is truth to the comment that people "fetishize" the Women of The IDF. I recall a picture in the back of a Playboy way back in the day (i.e early 80s), touting some model/IDF Reservist. Some guys are into "chicks with guns", and the IDF is a place with many of them.

In a sense it's demeaning to these women and to the IDF, but in the end, I would refer people back to my first point. It's not as if these women have names that are known to us. They are images, and as such are objectified. The only alternative is to try and create a woman to fit into the body we see in a given image.

However, this post was about a little bit more than "IDF women are so hot!". It's about a group of attractive young women, forced into a situation where femininity is rare. The most common thought to cross my mind while I flipped through the pictures, even more common than "what a hottie" was "wow. That rifle is almost taller than she is".

When a 19 year old woman is required to join the military because her people are in a perpetual state of war against insane neighbors, that's A Bad Thing. (It's also a bad thing for 19 year old men).

I liked the post and the pictures, but Man, some people around here take themselves mighty seriously.

Dymphna said...

wacko--

It's nice to see your smiling face.

Thanks for coming by.

_______________

Bela--

Are you familiar with the acronym OT? It means "Off Thread" -- in other words, your comments have naught to do with Ms. Papo's book.

Such things derail the conversation.

Westward Ho said...

Wow, Jesus Christ SuperCop's dander was raised SO far up by this item it crowds everything else out of his mind.

I suspect ANY depiction of Israel and Israelis as just people, just being, (let alone joyously celebrating life) -- without immediate assault with invective and "hate daggers" -- really riles him. And the happier the image, the stronger his visceral reaction.

"We hates them! We hates them! We hates them!!! Gollum, gollum, golum, gollum..."

whiskey_199 said...

Israeli women are well known to be some of the most beautiful on the planet.

Those who were "Veronica Mars" fans would recognize Alona Tal ("Meg") who was also a Eurovision winner. Very blonde and pretty, she usually plays cornfed wholesome girls in US TV.

The scene in Tel Aviv's beaches, so I am told is breathtaking. Easily the equal of Costa del Sol or Cote d'Azure. Again so I am told.

The general health of a society can be measured, to my way of thinking, by the degree in which it's women are allowed to be beautiful, and walk around the way in which they wish, without hassles and consequences. It bespeaks a rule of law, not men nor tribal custom.

By the standard of Israeli women's beauty, Israel has done very well.

Ypp said...

"At the same time, many of these girls are just as pretty, just as desirable as any artificially arranged images of erotica."

Don't worry about that. When I served my short introductory period in IDF (I was too old for full service), I noticed what that photographic lady probably did not show you. All the back yard of the Staff Barrack, which was never cleaned, was covered with used condoms.

Conservative Swede said...

Jesus Christ Supercop,

you treat commenters as your personal cheerleading squad whose only purpose is to validate your fragile ego

Being guilty as charged, I still cannot help myself in adding:

There are now two camps: those who take Gates of Vienna seriously and those who take Jesus Christ Supercop seriously.

Also there's a difference between freedom of speech and freedom of chat/graffiti.

But then again, everything I write here, I write just to validate the fragile ego of Dymphna. But the scariest thing is the cheerleader dress I'm wearing whenever I'm writing here (pajamas is for wimps!).

Westward Ho said...

JCSC said: "...I am struggling to comprehend how you managed to reach the conclusion that I hate Israel."

Actually, JCSC, it is your radical, uh, distaste and anger, at images so truly innocent that was the non-sequitor.

There are those who get angry at any depiction of Israelis as humans. Incredibly, some would even actually describe such depiction as "fetishizing."

Clearer?

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

I'm such a cheerleader I insulted Dymphna to her virtual face. *pom pom*

There's always a danger of a blog turning into an echo chamber. That whole "groupthink" thing. I have to admit, though, this is probably the oddest way I've seen that accusation made, especially on a blgo with such a very high signal-to-noise ratio. Perhaps the best solution is for us all to take a step back, contemplate our reasons for being here and then start cheer-leading. Or not. You see the problem with the internet is that it makes it very easy to insult in haste, and leaves little apparent time to repent at leisure, or even at all. The thing is, just because it's possible to instantly communicate doesn't mean it's actually necessary, and things said in the heat of the moment are more often than not things you'll regret saying.

Now this post was about an artist and her photography, just a little light-hearted and possibly telling look at what life is like in a country where everyone has to be ready to fight at a moment's notice, where everyone is considered to be a "legitimate" target even if they haven't touched a gun for years and are too old to serve in the army. I know of no other country where ex armed-forces members are "legitimate" military targets, or even part-time reserve forces for that matter.

Are they fetishised, these women? Possibly. Are they any different from other women in other armed forces? Probably not, except most infantry forces generally don't allow women to serve on the front lines in combat. BUT. It's worth bearing in mind that many, in fact most, of these women will hold dual citizenships. They could leave if they wanted, use that dual citizen ship to be conveniently out of the country for their draft period without, as I understand, any retribution against them. They don't do that. They choose to stay and endure the draft despite having a choice. They choose to become targets, potentially for the rest of their lives, in order to defend something they believe in. That makes them worthy of a little admiration in my mind.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 05/12/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

ole said...

About Israeli women
I married one ,so ofcourse I consider myself an expert !
Back in the 70'ties when I first came to Israel ,I was shocked out of my socks less than a minute after stepping off the bus , by one simble fact : a lot of the best looking girls were STARING RIGHT BACK AT ME when I looked at them !
I newer recovered
Later I learned that this selfconfident look is often a sign of a girl who's been a squad leader in the army.
Today my 4 sons all have girlfriends of the same kind.

Dymphna said...

Ypp said...
...When I served my short introductory period in IDF (I was too old for full service), I noticed what that photographic lady probably did not show you. All the back yard of the Staff Barrack, which was never cleaned, was covered with used condoms.

The photographer/former IDf soldier didn't show the overflowing tampons containers, either, Ypp. That wasn't her point.

She was returning to an earlier time in her own life to photograph the fear and boredom that military service entails. Since she was a woman, she went back to capture what she remembered. Had she been a man, her book of photographs would have been entirely different.

Would they have been as interesting? I think so. This particular age group is so fragile, anyway, that to live caught between the throes of boredom and the fear of death changes who you are and who you will become.

I look at the photgraphs of our soldiers in Iraq with the same feelings and aesthetics that I brought to viewing Ms. Papo's work. Especially the photographs taken by former soldiers like Michael Yon. In their composition and subject matter and detail, they exude the same intensity that Papo's images have.

Unfortunately, Mr. Yon doesn't let bloggers use his images unless we purchase them or I would have run his a long time ago. This project was done with Ms. Papo's permission.

Note Ole's experience, ypp. He liked the difference in Israeli women. Most men who truly like women and are comfortable around them usually do like feisty, direct women. It's not that such men are courageous, they simply lack fear.

Dymphna said...

BINGO!

Marianne said...
Jeez, maybe I'm too simpleminded, but I thought the whole idea of this post was just a small celebration of Israel's anniversary via the conduit of photography by one of its citizens. No more, no less.

Exactly, Marianne: "no more, no less."

Jesus Christ Supercop said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jesus Christ Supercop said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.