Many of you have already seen this video of an IDF officer striking a Danish International Solidarity Movement (ISM) ‘protester’ in the face with his weapon. The incident occurred when the activists blocked a road near Jericho on Saturday.
IDF authorities have suspended the officer, Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, and have ordered an investigation. Unsurprisingly, the media — including the left-wing Israeli media — have jumped all over this example of Israeli ‘brutality’.
We should keep in mind that the edited video, produced by the ISM, shows only a few seconds of the incident, which took place over a period of two hours. And Lt. Col. Eisner says that the same protester had previously struck him with a stick or bicycle pump, fracturing his fingers. Nevertheless, it’s likely that he will be severely punished for his action.
Those who sympathize with the officer say that the video does not show the context of the incident, which includes the two hours prior to it. But there is a lot more context than just this that needs to be taken into account.
The ISM was created in order to support the Palestinian project to eliminate the Jewish state. It sees ‘nonviolent’ — that is, without guns or explosives — protest as part of the overall struggle, which also includes violent ‘resistance’. In a 2002 essay called “Why Nonviolent Resistance is Important for the Palestinian Intifada: A Response to Ramzy Baroud,” ISM founders Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro explain,
The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics – both nonviolent and violent. But most importantly it must develop a strategy involving both aspects. No other successful nonviolent movement was able to achieve what it did without a concurrent violent movement – in India militants attacked British outposts and interests while Gandhi conducted his campaign, while the Black Panther Movement and its earlier incarnations existed side-by-side with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
Nonviolence, as they argue, can be effective in achieving goals that violence alone cannot, such as “changing the image of the Palestinian struggle,” and involving foreigners:
Additionally, more foreign civilians would be encouraged to come to work with Palestinians in their legitimate struggle against occupation and injustice, thereby internationalizing the Intifada and bringing more resources to bear on pressuring Israel and the international community to establish a just peace.
And what is the ultimate goal? Is it a peaceful two-state solution? No. One of ISM’s objectives is to secure the ‘return’ of Arab refugees and their descendents (between 4-5 million) to Israel, which would effectively end the Jewish state. They directly support Hamas and other terrorist groups, sometimes as human shields.
ISM has chapters all over the US and Europe from which they recruit naive activists, whom they bring to Israel to participate in their actions. If these people are injured or, better, killed, they provide great propaganda value. In this particular case, the Danish government has already made inquiries regarding the treatment of its citizen.
Nonviolent does not mean non-hostile. Nonviolent actions in war, especially when it is an asymmetric war in which public opinion is one of the fronts, can be very effective tactically, sometimes much more so than violent acts.
Just because nonviolence is associated with good causes like the US civil rights movement does not mean that it cannot be used for evil ones. The tactic itself is morally neutral.
These people are in effect combatants in the Arab war against Israel, albeit without guns. They do their best to disrupt operations and protect terrorist fighters, who do have guns and explosives. Although there are leftist or anarchist Israelis who take part in demonstrations, the international activists are in the majority and the most effective as propaganda tools.
Democratic countries like Israel seem to believe that as long as a ‘tourist’ does not use an actual weapon when he participates in anti-state activities, he must be treated as an honored guest. While I don’t think Israel can adopt the methods used by Arab countries, Russia, Turkey, China, Iran, etc., there is more that can be done.
There should be zero tolerance for these enemy soldiers. ‘Internationals’ who enter military zones or disobey orders from soldiers or police should be arrested immediately, deported, and prevented from reentering Israel. Like the “Flightilla” participants, anyone identified as having a connection with ISM should be barred from entering the country.
Frankly, I cannot sympathize with the slightly injured protester. He came to Israel in order to help destroy the Jewish state and replace it with another Arab dictatorship, resulting in the dispersion and/or death of its Jewish population. In effect, he was trying to kill Lt. Col. Eisner’s children, and it’s tragic that Eisner will be punished because he gave him a split lip.
Update [18 APR 1847 PDT]: For more about how the ISM operates, read this fascinating piece by investigative journalist Lee Kaplan.