What Happens When There Are No Cameras

Israel Defense Force (IDF) Lieutenant Colonel Shaul Eisner has been dismissed from his command for the next two years following the beating of a Danish pro-Palestinian protester last week in the Jordan Valley.  The incident which was caught on film sparked quite a controversy and called into question once again long criticized tactics by the IDF and allegations of excessive force.

It’s not the first time an IDF officer has been accused of carrying out atrocious acts of violence against unarmed civilians. In November 2010 two staff sergeants were convicted for using an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield during the Gaza Strip Operation Cast Lead military strike.  The act in and of itself was deplorable enough, however more so the support shown by fellow IDF soldiers and the punishment; a 3-month suspension and demotion in rank further eroded the concept of justice in the Israeli court system.

In each of the above incidents it appears had it not been for external forces the IDF would have gladly looked the other way. Of course, when asked IDF officials claim this kind of behavior is unacceptable and goes against the code of conduct. We will even hear words of condemnation from the Defense and Prime Ministers. But as one who is familiar with “police” culture all too well understands, soldiers feel comfortable engaging in malfeasance only when that behavior is condoned by their superiors, whether directly or indirectly inferred. When statements like the only good Arab is a dead one are allowed to permeate the consciousness of IDF soldiers it lends credence to that belief.  Furthermore when the punishment is not commensurate with the crime, it aids in creating an environment where any perceived “adversary” — whether it is a Palestinian youth or European protester — can be violated in the worst way with little to no repercussion.

Eisner expressed no remorse for his actions.  His only regret was that he used his M-16 rifle to hit activist Andreas Ias in the face “in front of the cameras.”  ”It could have been a professional mistake to use a weapon in front of the cameras,” Eisner said.  A professional mistake? There is no recognition of a moral issue, understandably so.

If an IDF officer earnestly felt such behavior was intolerable and the consequences would be dire, it is pretty certain they would think twice before  doing so.  If such acts were viewed on the inside with the same disdain from those looking outside it would create an all together different mentality as well as standard.  There can exist a hundred laws on the book against violence towards civilians but if those who are at the helm are not willing to be diligent in changing the status quo and creating an environment of zero tolerance nothing will change. Next year or the following one we will be reading about a civilian who has been shot, beaten or killed by an IDF soldier. Unless, of course, the cameras aren’t rolling.

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Mikki Israel is an American-Israeli or Israeli-American, depending on the circumstances. Mikki currently resides in Israel but comes to the U.S. whenever Israelis become too annoying, then returns after the Americans have become a headache.  She is a featured writer for Borderless News and Views, and a freelance writer for whatever media outlet is brave enough to print the news — minus the spin.

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Photographer and Copyright/Source: YouTube

Danish activist Andreas Ias said that he did not act violently before being hit by the IDF soldier.

Publish Date:
2012:04:16 14:04