Fundamentally Freund: When Jews fight back (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By MICHAEL FREUND 04/19/12)
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Earlier this week, the IDF went viral, but for all the wrong reasons.
After Lt.- Col. Shalom Eisner struck a pro-Palestinian Danish
protester in the face with his rifle on Saturday, an edited video of
the incident was quickly uploaded to the Internet, garnering
worldwide attention and condemnation.
Not surprisingly, Israel’s critics wasted little time, seizing upon
the episode to highlight their contention that the Jewish state is
cruel, brutal and ruthless.
After all, here was this seemingly innocent, blond-haired, blue-eyed
Dane minding his own business, when a gruff, kippah-wearing Jew with
a beard took a cheap shot and knocked him backwards.
Case closed, right? Well, don’t let their haughty indignation fool
you. The reaction to this episode has been overblown and unjust, and
we must not allow our foes to besmirch the good name of the IDF or
the country it is tasked to defend.
To be sure, anyone who watches the video of Eisner cannot help but
cringe as he raises his rifle and slams the protesters. Taken
entirely out of context, it appears to be an unwarranted and
We expect the most out of our men in uniform, and rightly so. Jewish
soldiers representing the Jewish state must uphold the highest moral,
ethical and professional standards. That is what differentiates us
from our enemies.
But while the camera may not lie, it can certainly tell a tall tale.
And that is precisely what happened in this case.
The fact is that there were some 250 European and Palestinian
anarchists and protesters who were illegally attempting to block
Route 90, the main artery through the Jordan River Valley. They
ignored instructions to disperse, hurled insults at the soldiers and
repeatedly attempted to provoke them.
As has been widely reported, Eisner’s hand was broken when he was
subjected to physical violence before the filmed incident took place.
And all of this took place on the Sabbath, no less. Showing an utter
lack of respect for the Jewish day of rest, the protesters behaved
like the hooligans that they are.
Indeed, many are affiliated with the International Solidarity
Movement, a radical outfit whose mission statement declares, “we
recognize the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and
occupation via legitimate armed struggle.” In other words, they
justify violence and terror.
Hence, the much-talked-about video only tells a very small part of
the larger story.
However mistaken or misguided Eisner’s actions might have been, they
were clearly taken in the heat of the moment and under extreme
duress. By all accounts, his military career has been marked by
integrity, discipline and self-restraint.
To judge him based on two minutes of a YouTube video would be a
miscarriage of justice and a triumph of stupidity over common sense.
Eisner has devoted his life to the defense of the Jewish people.
While many of us were at home this past weekend enjoying our families
and feasting on matza, he was out in the field confronting those who
seek to do us harm. Don’t we at least owe him the benefit of the
doubt? I am convinced that lurking behind much of the world’s
criticism of the Eisner affair is an underlying unwillingness to
accept that Jews can and will fight back.
The international community is only too happy to applaud us when we
retreat, withdraw and run away like the cowards they expect us to be.
But when Israel takes action to defend itself against rocket attacks,
suicide bombers and those who seek our destruction, we are vilified
and condemned like no other country.
Over the course of two millennia, the nations of the world became
accustomed to the powerlessness of the Jew, and old habits die hard.
Nearly 64 years after the establishment of the modern State of
Israel, they still find the idea of proud and self-confident Jews
difficult to swallow.
And so they expect us to allow ISM lawbreakers to visit our country,
slander our state, block our roads and attack our soldiers. Oh yes,
and we have to smile for the camera too. Well guess what? The
centuries of Jewish helplessness and subjection are over. This is our
home and we will defend it with all our might.
Mistakes will be made, and various actions such as those of Shalom
Eisner will be open to differing interpretations.
But at the end of the day, one thing should be patently clear: when
we come under attack, Jews – like anyone else – have the right and
the duty to fight back. And that is what we shall do.
The writer is chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org) which
assists lost tribes and hidden Jewish communities to return to Israel
and the Jewish people. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/19/12)
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