Photography of Israeli Defense Force Women Soldiers

I’m not an old man, by real­ly any­one’s account. Even Tim­o­thy Leary, were he still alive, could tech­ni­cal­ly trust me as I’m not yet over thir­ty. How­ev­er, the one thing that makes me feel my age per­haps more than any thing else is to see pho­tos of sol­diers serv­ing at war. They go to join the armed ser­vices for any num­ber of rea­sons. We ask of them many things, some ter­ri­ble and most amaz­ing­ly hero­ic. As with most hero­ic jobs, the vast major­i­ty of their ser­vice is mun­dane life spent in a uni­form occa­sion­al­ly punc­tu­at­ed with moments of insan­i­ty.

The Israel Defense Force, or IDF, is no dif­fer­ent than our own mil­i­tary save one mod­ern dif­fer­ence: Most every able-bod­ied Jew­ish Israeli cit­i­zen, man or woman, is con­script­ed into ser­vice at the age of eigh­teen. Women serve for two years while men serve for three. Of course, these are real­ly just girls and boys. The for­mer being young enough that I would feel guilty glanc­ing at twice were I to pass them on the street and the lat­ter being young enough I’d feel any con­ver­sa­tion with them would be more like advice than a dis­cus­sion (well, that last bit goes for both, real­ly).

Rachel Papo1 has a won­der­ful pho­to series of some young women who serve in the IDF. There is noth­ing graph­ic nor racy here; but rather sim­ply pho­tos of women serv­ing in the life of a sol­dier. There is noth­ing here that will attempt to lead you to any con­clu­sion about wrong­ness or right­ness of war, the con­flict that sur­rounds Israel, nor the ser­vice of women. The only strug­gle is the fact that hey are both remark­ably young look­ing at yet have the matu­ri­ty their coun­try demands of their ser­vice. In this coun­try, we no longer demand this of every per­son at eigh­teen, but it is an option that is encour­aged. We do not allow them to drink and the will serve under lead­ers they were too young to have vot­ed into office, and yet we entrust the defense (and offense) of this coun­try to many per­sons that age. Should you not know any­one just out of high school that has served in the mil­i­tary, this won­der­ful pho­to set will make you feel as though you do.

  1. Papo served in the Israeli Air Force from the age of eigh­teen to the age of twen­ty, which inspired this pho­to set. These pho­tos were take as part of her mas­ter’s the­sis at the School of Visu­al Arts in New York City. []