A first look at the recent video of soldiers beating a Palestinian in the West Bank clarifies that the soldiers’ actions were illegal. There may have been a violent protest. They may have been under pressure. Excuses may be found. But the foolishness is outrageous. Why?
In the video, Palestinian Shadi al-Habsi didn’t attack the soldiers and doesn’t seem threatening. So we are talking about moral and maybe even criminal injustice. Does it help anyone or anything? Will such unnecessary use of force solve any problem? Will it deter other protestors? And in addition, such a beating is a propaganda attack as well. We can, and must, fight the BDS’s propaganda of lies – but one vides is worth more than a thousand articles.
We can present excuses. We can remind the world that it happens about 10 times a day. Similar video segments show similar incidents in Copenhagen and Paris, and I doubt there a Western city in which people in uniform have not acted the same way. There is no need for an “occupation” for it to happen, and it happens. And we can say that with all the abhorrence that such a video evokes, it’s still not Ferguson. The Palestinian wasn’t taken to a car in order to be beaten to death.
But all these excuses are worthless, because an entire army of propagandists is waiting for any slip on Israel’s part. There is no need for thousands of soldiers to carry out such a foolish act every day. All it takes is one soldier, or several soldiers, who do it once every few weeks or months. It’s enough to supply fuel to the mechanism of incitement against us.
This evil must be purged from our midst, even if this evil is not a daily matter. If the soldiers committed an offense, if there was no justification for the violence, and that’s the way it looks like now, such an incident cannot go uninvestigated and unpunished.
The problem is not just the soldiers. It’s clear that the orders forbid such violence. But other questions must be presented: Is there is a procedure which makes it clear to the soldiers that they are living in an era in which almost every move of their hand is documented? Did someone guide them that it’s not only immoral – but that it causes huge damage to Israel? Because if no one made it clear to them that we are living in such an era, this is a huge failure.
The “second Goldstone Report” is about to be published this week, regarding Israel’s military action in Gaza during last year’s conflict. Its conclusions have been written in advance. Once again, an accusatory finger will be pointed at Israel. Once again, the libel that Israel intentionally, maliciously hurts innocent people will be spread across the world. Once again, the world will ignore Hamas’ racist, anti-Semitic and murderous nature.
Once again, the festival of incitement against Israel will be resumed. And at the exact moment when Israel needs things to be presented in a way which will provide it with some defense – the soldiers come along and give Israel’s haters a free gift.
It’s not enough to condemn the incident and probe the soldiers. There is no use for allotting NIS 100 million for “hasbara” if the IDF’s soldiers find it difficult to realize that they are at the front of Israel’s PR efforts as well.
Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News.com