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Robert L. Peters

9 May 2008

Reflections on Nationalism…

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Brooklyn, New York

“At an age when social, sexual, and educational explorations are at their highest point, the life of an eighteen-year-old Israeli girl is interrupted. She is plucked from her home surroundings and placed in a rigorous institution where her individuality is temporarily forced aside in the name of nationalism. During the next two years, immersed in a regimented and masculine environment, she will be transformed from a girl to a woman, within the framework of an army that is engaged in daily war and conflict. She is now a soldier serving her country, in a military camp amidst hundreds like her, yet beneath the uniform there is someone wishing to be noticed, listened to, and understood.” From an insightful and poignant documentary perspective, and the recollections of Rachel Papo, 15 years after she herself served in the Israeli army, here.

Thanks for the link, Gregor, who wrote to me… “I recall you saying that Israeli army girls (women) were among the scariest and most beautiful women you have seen in your travels :-). Here is a site about those women…” Thanks for the reminder, Gregor—having been to Israel and experiencing first-hand the reality of a narrow nation precariously pushed up against the sea by (mostly) hostile neighbors, I feel empathy with their collective, defensive stance… on the other hand, I deplore the militantly combative (and almost-fascist) position the Israeli state has taken vis-a-vis the Palestinian people who were robbed of their own homeland by Israel’s nascent nationhood, 60 years ago this week.

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