Once in a while, you find someone on the internet who makes you feel like you’ve done nothing with your life. Today, for me, it’s the legendary lady behind a Taylor Swift parody fan account, @LegitTayUpdates, who is now the internet’s favorite alleged Israeli draft refuser.
Yes, there’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s start! On April 2, @LegitTayUpdates casually tweeted an update to her followers, apologizing for not being active on the platform for the past few months, stating that she was in prison and adding a “:/” emoticon, because, you know, it’s a bummer but NBD.
When Twitter user @ali_ansel responded with what many would say is the only logical response — “omg why” — LegitTay responded with, “I refused to join the IDF lmao.”
Lmao, you guys, LMAO! Just seeing this tweet made my brain explode! And so did the rest of the internet’s brains, after seeing what has been called the best 3 tweet story ever (agreed, where is their Pulitzer?!).
this might officially be the new best 3 tweet story ever pic.twitter.com/Gls3NP7Rx1
— slim shady 'larry' (@penis_hernandez) April 2, 2019
Hundreds of tweets called @LegitTayUpdates, who went by N. in interviews with Elle and Teen Vogue about this ordeal, a legend, and the young Israeli lady, who turned 19 while serving her two-month long stint in prison, earned an army of new Twitter stans.
a woman who runs a taylor swift update account going to prison for refusing to join the IDF and having lots of gay sex while in prison and then going viral as an anti-zionist taylor swift stan is news that was engineered in a lab specifically for me
— jesse (@_jorts_) April 2, 2019
Naturally, N. used this opportunity to raise money for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund. You gotta appreciate a girl who is dedicated to her cause.
💬| Oh wig what a nice surprise!
Anyway: free Palestine, throw Netanyahu in prison, and donate to the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund, who actually are confirmed to use at least 86% of their donations on the programs and services they deliver!
— Taylor Swift Updates (@LegitTayUpdates) April 2, 2019
And yet, dear reader, I had no idea that this was just the tip of the iceberg in what is a truly delightful, bonkers, life-giving story.
But before we get to the rest of N.’s tale, let me explain the basic logistics at play here. As many of you may know, all Jewish, non-ultra-Orthodox Israelis over the age of 18 have to enlist into the Israeli Defense Force, AKA the IDF (I myself enlisted in 2006).
There are some ways to get out of serving in the army, like getting married or having a health condition. But being a conscientious objector against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is simply not one of them. So some young Israelis who reach the draft age just refuse to enlist, which means they’re summoned to serve time in an IDF jail. As N. tells one follower, this is not an extremely rare occurrence, which is why she was surprised her tweet went viral.
💬| I can't believe my most notorious Taylor Swift Update™ is not even about Taylor but about me being released from prison pic.twitter.com/o87xvQldUx
— Taylor Swift Updates (@LegitTayUpdates) April 2, 2019
But back to N.’s story. You see, earlier this year, among opinions about Taylor Swift in the new movie adaptation of Cats and hot takes about the singer’s eyebrows (I, too, am a full eyebrow fan, but everyone’s gotta do what’s best for them and the space above their eyes), @LegitTayUpdates let her followers know that she will be going to prison for refusing to enlist in the military.
💬| So I think most of you know (?) but I'm going to prison tomorrow for refusing to enlist to the military, which I know sounds kinda funny, but it also means I'll be gone for a while (not sure how long).
So uhhh no more me pissing you guys off for a while. What a relief, huh?
— Taylor Swift Updates (@LegitTayUpdates) February 1, 2019
Luckily, N. has an amazing best friend, Noya, who posted letters and updates from N.’s prison experience, which to her was probably kind of boring, but for us, newly minted N. super-fans, sounds nothing short of legendary.
On her official Taylor fan account, N. took the time out of her schedule to remind people to not spread pregnancy rumors about Tay.
But on her personal Twitter, it was madness, y’all!
Here are just a few of the gems she shared about her prison experience:
Prisoners were sharing Larry (that’s Louis and Harry, of One Direction) fan-fiction in a binder titled “Jewish History of Eastern Europe.” You guys!!!!
They were also fighting over this Mr. and Mrs. Smith poster, like true heroes.
They had a field trip in prison, to a different prison… seriously.
N. LITERALLY punching someone for being racist. WHAT?! What?!?!
Anyway, these are just some highlights, but if you have spare time and are in need of cheering up, I recommend reading all of her letters. They’re just gems. (Seriously, N. come write for Alma!)
But we have to also acknowledge that this is serious business. As an Israeli who went to the army, and who knows people who refused the draft and went to jail or got out of the army in other ways, there’s a price to pay here. Israeli culture, still, does not embrace conscientious objectors, and as N. told Teen Vogue, there can be repercussions in her future:
“What I’m really worried about are the implications of my prison time. I’ll have a hard time finding work in Israel because I didn’t enlist, and my decision did put a strain on my relationships with family and friends, particularly those in the IDF.”
Luckily, according to her Twitter, N. plans to come to New York to study film, so she probably won’t have to face these repercussions, just terrible NYC rent!
In all seriousness, the most painful part of all of this is that it can cause a rift among family and other loved ones. Luckily, N.’s parents are doing their best to see where she’s coming from, according to an interview with Elle: “We’ve tried speaking about the conflict, but I think it’s more difficult for older people to easily accept ideas that challenge their own life experience and perception […] we can’t talk about politics at home. It makes things uncomfortable for me and created a bit of distance between us. But I do see them trying. They’re honestly trying to see my side of things, and they even agreed to sponsor my participation in several Jewish-Palestinian programs where we talk about the conflict. So not all is lost!”
I have to say, if N.’s story is true (I understand why it can’t yet be fully verified), I’m a huge fan of any person who, at 19, stands so fully behind their beliefs that they’re ready to go to prison for it. The fact that N. isn’t the only one doesn’t make her any less amazing.
And also, on a personal note, thanks for making me hate Taylor Swift’s music a little less.