Posted by: Lister | November 17, 2007

Israeli soldiers speak

Israeli women soldiers recount army trauma in film:

The six Israeli women who feature in the documentary “To See If I’m Smiling” each wrestle with memories of their compulsory military service that they would rather erase.

[…] One girl who had wanted to save lives as a paramedic said she ended up scrubbing corpses to hide signs of abuse by Israeli soldiers. Visibly distressed, she looks for the first time in years at a photo of her and a dead Palestinian man.

“How in hell did I think I’d ever be able to forget?” she says, brushing away tears.

[…] Yarom hopes the documentary will prompt soul-searching in the Jewish state, where military service is a core part of national identity, and encourage other traumatised ex-soldiers to talk about violence they may have inflicted or witnessed.

“This country is in a coma. With all the bombs and attacks, we are numb,” she said. “People feel we are in a war of survival and it’s better not to criticise soldiers, because they are the ones protecting us.”

[…] Yarom said personal experience prompted her to make the film. As a support soldier during the earlier intifada of the 1980s, she was shown a Palestinian torture victim but failed to speak out.

Almost two decades later, she still cannot shake the image of the man, slumped over a generator, his neck bent to the side and his face covered in blood.

“It’s the kind of picture that stays with you forever,” she said. “During my service I detached myself. When you try to re-attach yourself afterwards it’s painful.”

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