Shalom Eisner is apparently a very brave and capable officer. He acted bravely under fire in the 2006 Lebanon War, has helped a Palestinian woman deliver a child en route to hospital and has received the support of nearly 100 of his charges in the army who wrote a letter extolling his virtues after he became the poster boy for supposed IDF violence. Most of these soldiers, by the way, serve in the reserves and therefore are more likely to be older and more mature than younger IDF conscripts.
Shalom Eisner lost his cool for a moment the other day and shoved the back of his gun into the face of a handsome, self-assured, Danish, ISM activist. The activist fell and the officer moved on. The moment was edited into the front of a video, placed on Youtube and has become an international front page story, not to mention the subject of countless internet articles, newspaper editorials and blogs.
Their main point? Gotcha!
The critics are thrilled. This incident is a godsend. Beinart and his cohorts can pontificate, Weiss and his buddies can bring out the heavy guns, 972mag can lecture knowingly, Haaretz can publish more op-eds about this than all the grains of sand in Israel’s beaches, the Palestinians can tell the world how miserable is the Israelis’ occupation and all the while, those Israelis who have decided that “violence is the only language Arabs understand” respond just as brusquely that Eisner’s act was right and necessary.
Let’s review, okay?
1. This video was provided by the ISM. The ISM is an activist group that has openly supported Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis and has permitted Palestinian terrorists to hide in their offices. They are active provocateurs and often seek to block IDF actions by putting “international activists” on the front lines. That’s how Rachel Corrie, for example, ended up standing in the path of a tractor attempting to destroy a house where arms-smuggling tunnels were being used by the Palestinians to support their war against Israeli civilians.
2. Therefore, every time a story uses the phrase “peace activists” to describe the group of activists who confronted Eisner and his fellow soldiers, it is a misnomer. They are activists. I would even call them war activists. They are far from peace activists.
3. Also, therefore, a heavily edited video from ISM, which is the source for all we have seen about this incident, is seriously suspect.
4. On the basis of the footage and photos that have been placed on the Internet, it is evident that the ISM came out for a confrontation. They brought numerous Palestinian flags and, more important, they brought professional or serious amateur photographers to the scene. They also brought out two busloads of activists to join the cyclists and they openly sought to block a main road.
5. We also know that Eisner didn’t use crowd dispersal means at his disposal and that at some point the cyclists used force to try to get to the road, openly challenging the soldiers in their way.
6. Somehow this led to Eisner shoving the back end of his short M16 into the face of a Danish protester. This was stupid and unnecessary. It didn’t strike me as evil, because the video suggests to me this was a spur of the moment reaction by the officer, not something he was doing over and over or his pattern of action on that day.
7. The protester was not seriously injured. I’m not even sure he was injured at all.
8. Nobody died. Nobody got seriously hurt. Nobody even got badly hurt. In fact, the worst injury of the day appears to have been suffered by Shalom Eisner himself BEFORE he ever shoved his gun into the protester’s face. Eisner has a fractured finger, another badly hurt finger and also has some wrist damage, apparently suffered because of violence from the activists.
9. Did I mention than nobody got hurt? Also, the activists never succeeded in blocking the road.
10. I won’t bother you with the links because there are so many. However, I encourage all readers to go to a video site like Youtube and do searches for phrases such as “Danish police beat” and “Chinese police beat” and “police beat” and “US soldiers beat” and “UK soldiers beat” and “German police beat” and “italian police beat” and “stockholm police brutality” and “activist beaten” and “demonstrators killed” and “demonstrator killed” and so on.
11. Amazing, isn’t it? I bet you that Danish guy was happy to be hit by an Israeli and not one of his own police.
12. This Eisner incident is one incident. It is not singular. There have been others involving IDF soldiers and both Palestinians as well as pro-Palestinian activists.
13. There are millions of Palestinians, thousands of Israeli soldiers in uniform at any given time in the Territory, thousands of pro-Palestinian activists, dozens of demonstrations monthly, and plenty of confrontations. Incidents like this happen and will continue to happen. Obviously they need to be minimized, and considering the amount of noise surrounding this incident, it seems they are minimized and rare. If the pro-Palestinian activists could put out a video like this daily, they would.
14. Despite all the editorials and articles about this story, there is little to learn about the Occupation, about Israel, about settlers, about observant Jews, about observant Jews in the IDF, about officers in the IDF, about the IDF’s morality, about Palestinians, about Danes, about how everything is going to hell in a handbasket or about anything other than the pupik of all those pontificating about these things because of this incident.
15. What is there to learn?
Well, it’s time the IDF recorded everything it does in all of its encounters in the Territory. Why not? Cameras are digital now so extraneous content can easily be dumped. When something happens, Israel has a record – which is important when things go bad and not just when things go right.
Second, it seems fairly clear the IDF trains its men to avoid these confrontations as can be learned from the interviews and even the ISM video of this incident. This can also be learned from the too-quick but genuinely horrified responses of Israel’s President, Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff to this incident.
Third, never trust an edited video from a suspect source (that’s a hint to all you journalists out there who actually get paid to report the news).
16. Fourth, when average people are dying daily at the hands of the Syrian government, and when regular Tibetans are burning themselves to death to escape Chinese occupation and oppression, and when the Palestinian Authority throws journalists it doesn’t like into prison, and when innocent people are being maimed and killed on an ongoing basis in places like Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen by both rebels and government forces, the act of becoming hysterical about one soldier unreasonably hitting a provocative anti-peace activist in the face during a demonstration is not only disproportionate, it is an insult to morality and integrity. I don’t think the Dane even suffered a broken nose and there are women who have crossed over into Turkey and told stories of seeing children murdered by Syrian government forces whose story hasn’t received even a small fraction of the attention this gun incident has received.
17. For a very long time, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been as much a real war as a propaganda war. This round is a clear victory for Palestinians and their supporters. Or perhaps it isn’t. Sure, this video and its imagery will become iconic, and used to describe violence against the Palestinians by Israelis, however inaccurately, for years to come. But eventually there will be a protest in Canada or Denmark or France and some protesters will be unreasonably hurt by the police, without having provoked to a degree even close to what happened in this story. When that happens, those who are busy turning this incident into mass generalizations about Israel and its army will have to acknowledge what is already obvious to reasonable people.