Update - the IOF Lt. Colonel has been sentenced for a clear and obvious assault to losing his command over others for 2 years - of course protesters or Palestinians who had assaulted an IOF member would have been sentenced to prison and worse
What has the ‘Only Democracy in the Middle East’ Got to Hide?
Ziv Lenchner, YNet, 17.4.12.
The easiest thing we can do is jump to conclusions and make accusations before clarifying the circumstances of the incident where Lt. Colonel Shalom Eisner struck a leftist activist. Yet on second thought, this is not the easiest thing we can do.
The truly easiest thing is to hide behind the details that may emerge or the arguments that may be presented - a pacifist provocation, a difficult day in the area, warm weather that inflamed the spirits – in order to justify the epitome of brutality.
One regrettable fact will not be going anywhere: A thug wearing a lieutenant colonel uniform forcefully striking the jaw of a protestor using an IDF rifle. This is a moral nadir that a moral society cannot tolerate and certainly should not accept. It must not.
With one gesture, Lieutenant Colonel Eisner provided a new and appalling interpretation to the term “purity of arms.” The disturbing thought that won’t let go wonders how many such cases take place in our country and in the territories, right under our noses and not in front of our cameras.
Many sneers must accompany the above words, and this is no coincidence. An interesting historical study to be undertaken one of these days will aim to figure out when exactly did morality turn into “self-righteousness” and “being a bleeding heart” in Israel.
Most public responses to Eisner’s act, as expressed in the talkbacks among other things, are sympathetic to his actions. The reactions range from “the Danish scumbag deserved it” to “Eisner is a real man.” The prevalent argument among the handful of objectors has to do with the PR angle: How foolish it was for the senior officer to act this way in front of the cameras, thereby undermining Israel’s image (which is otherwise superior, as we know.)
Just like a Syrian thug
There is no doubt that the images from the Jericho area will cause Israel PR damage, and rightfully so. Yet the fact this is the main issue that concerns Israel’s decent citizens is odd, not to mention twisted – not the fact that an IDF lieutenant colonel behaves like a Syrian thug in Homs, but rather, the fear that the world will see it on television and think bad things about us.
This is actually an excellent opportunity for us to think about ourselves. How did we reach a state where a protestor on a bicycle, even if he’s naïve, eccentric and annoying, is received by the Israel Defense Force with a bone-shattering gesture, and only a few of us view it as a crime?
This may be a natural development in a country that is so scared that it undertakes a mass deportation of foreign protestors instead of allowing them to demonstrate as much as they wish in the West Bank. After all, said the man at the top, we are the only democracy in the Middle East. Aren’t we?
The blow delivered by Lieutenant Colonel Eisner is particularly painful because it was delivered by a senior officer, rather than a young, inexperienced soldier who lost his head. It’s even more difficult and painful because of the target of the blow, and it wasn’t only the Danish protestor’s face. It was the face of all of us. Look in the mirror for a second and see what our face looks like this morning.
Security service had no evidence that 470 of the 1,200 people whom Israel labeled as 'pro-Palestinian activists' intended to do anything illegal, source says; French diplomat and his wife among those whose tickets to Israel were canceled.
Forty percent of the non-Israeli citizens whose names appeared on a Shin Bet blacklist ahead of Sunday's so-called "fly-in" protest by pro-Palestinian activists were added to the list despite the fact that the security service had no concrete information showing they were connected with the protest in any way.
This information comes from a high-ranking Israeli source with knowledge of the blacklist, who added that the Shin Bet also had no solid grounds for believing that 470 of the 1,200 people whom Israel labeled as "pro-Palestinian activists" intended to do anything illegal.
“We put people on the list who are as far removed from anti-Israel political activity as east is from west,” one Foreign Ministry official said. “We have insulted hundreds of foreign citizens because of suspicions, and have given the other side a victory on a silver platter.”
“Direct damage has been done to tourism and to Israel's good name,” the official said.
Organizers said on Sunday that their “Welcome to Palestine” protest, in which hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists were planning to participate in demonstrations in the West Bank, was a success that still advanced the Palestinian narrative even though many of the protesters were forced to stay home.
“It doesn't matter if eight people came or 800,” said Lubna Masarwa, one of the organizers of the event. “What's clear is that there is a popular struggle that is gaining momentum and has the international support of thousands of activists. The Palestinians are not alone in their struggle.”
A 23-year-old French woman who made it into Israel to take part in the protest said about half her group of 50 was detained.
“The security forces in France and Israel treated us like criminals," she said. "It's very frustrating and surprising that the authorities cooperated with the Israeli claims and propaganda.”
The list of banned passengers was inflated over the weekend in what one Foreign Ministry official called “overexertion.”
“The net was spread too wide, bringing down innocent people,” he said.
That net did not spare holders of diplomatic passports, like a French diplomat and his wife who are due to begin working at the French consulate in Jerusalem this summer. The couple was planning to look for an apartment in Jerusalem, but the night before their flight they received an e-mail from their airline, Lufthansa, saying their tickets were canceled because they had been banned from entering Israel.
“The Population Registry people told us their flight route was suspicious because they were coming in on a connecting flight from Munich, not direct from Paris,” said a Foreign Ministry official. “Only after we explained that the ticket from Munich was bought because it was cheaper did they take them off the list.”
Lufthansa was one of about 20 airlines, mostly European, that Israel threatened with sanctions if they did not cancel the tickets of the passengers who appeared on the lists Israel sent them. Other airlines that canceled tickets included Air France, Alitalia, Easyjet and Turkish Airlines.
Other passengers who appeared on the blacklist despite having no connection to the protest include an employee of Italy's Communications Ministry who was supposed to meet with her Israeli counterparts here, and a Dutch member of the board of directors of German pharmaceutical giant Merck, who was part of a company delegation taking part in the dedication of a biotechnology hothouse at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in which Merck is investing 10 million euros.
Both were eventually allowed into the country.
It wasn't only foreign citizens who were banned from entering Israel, though: An Israeli woman from Kfar Vradim was informed the night before her flight home that she wouldn't be allowed to board the plane. There were other instances of Israelis being put on the blacklist.
The Shin Bet, which compiled the list along with the intelligence division of the Israel Police, did not respond to a request for comment. For its part, the Population Registry was also involved in keeping out certain passengers, but said it was following the Shin Bet's orders.
The 730 people on the initial blacklist were all foreign citizens who were banned either because they were determined by Israeli intelligence to be flying in for the express purpose of taking part in the protest, or because they had arrived here for that purpose during a previous fly-in in July.
The 270 people who took part in the previous protest have been banned from entering the country for 10 years.
Police sources said many of the passengers on the list had been arrested for protests in the West Bank, or their names appeared online in connection with pro-Palestinian groups.