New IDF Photo Book 'Answers Goldstone Accusations'

Posted: 1/15/2012 4:04:00 PM
Author: Tzvi Ben Gedelyahu

New IDF Photo Book ‘Answers Goldstone Accusations’
A French journalist, fed up with Goldstone’s accusations, spent more than year with IDF soldiers and produced a new book of photos.
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Israel news photo courtesy of Nelu CohnFrench journalist Nelu Cohn, fed up with Goldstone’s accusations, spent more than year with Israeli soldiers and produced a new book of photos under the title “Tzahal,” the Hebrew abbreviation for the IDF.

He told an IDF interviewer that the idea for the book was triggered by the United Nations-commissioned Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead and accusations of war crimes against Israel. Goldstone since has admitted that much of the blame on Israel was misplaced.

“Even if today the argument in support of war crimes has been withdrawn, I couldn't stand the media fury accusing the IDF of committing such crimes,” Cohn said.

“Young Israelis do their military service and all men a reserve period for many years”, he added. “How can I contribute? I know how to take pictures and transmit messages through my pictures. So, I decided to pay tribute to them, to pay tribute to the IDF.”

Having already published a photo book on Tel Aviv, Cohn was able to show his credentials to then-IDF spokesman Avi Benayhau, who told him, “You have carte blanche.” Cohn said IDF personnel fully cooperated with him and helped him accompany soldiers, who were eager to assist him.

“One day, in the Negev, it was more than 40 degrees Celsius, and a female soldier from a combat unit offered to put all her equipment back on so I could take my pictures,” Cohn related. “And, she did it with a smile.

“In one of the pictures, we can see an Ethiopian Israeli who told me his story between two exercises. He has been in Israel for eight years; he is doing his military service in an artillery unit, known for being very physically demanding. When I left, I thanked him for his time, and he answered that he was the one who should be thanking me. 'You came from Paris only to take pictures of us!’”

Cohn took thousands of photographs and whittled them down to fit a 320-page book, which was produced and made in Israel.

He did not use any text from “on duty” soldiers" because the words of a figure who is not from the military or political world is more credible when he speaks about the IDF."

"Tzahal” includes “unpublished texts of academicians, artists, writers, rabbis [and] politicians” that express a “personal, moral, philosophical, spiritual, social or historical approach… I challenge anyone to find a deceitful or demagogic sentence. The texts are of profound intellectual honesty.”

Cohn’s impression of Israeli soldiers is that they “are amazingly mature -- a combination of mastered strength, warmth and sensibility. In reality, they are a reflection of Israelis, which is normal. They are Israel.”