Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner was sacked from his post for smacking a Danish activist in the face with his rifle and prohibited from holding a command position for 2 years. This is a punishment that I think most would agree fits the crime but this whole situation happened not because of him but because of the irresponsible actions of our politicians and senior army staff.
I wasn’t surprised to hear Eisner’s words; “I did not expect this to be the decision. I thought they accepted my version of events and understood it.”
After months of rhetoric from politicians that has turned criticism of Israel into an existential threat, it is no surprise that Eisner thought that all he did was engage with the enemy and win. Eisner has clearly taken to heart the words spoken by senior Members of Knesset and acted accordingly, he did not see a bunch of harmless cyclists but a threat to the state of Israel, a threat that he dealt with.
MK Uri Orbach said of the Flytilla that “People are living in a movie! They think that with sweetness and charm we can talk to the crazies of the international Left that are gathering here.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon wrote on his Facebook wall also of the Flytilla that “it is clear that their only goal is to create a disruption and challenge [Israeli] sovereignty.”
So in the face of the crazies of the international left and the disruption and challenge to Israeli sovereignty Eisner responded, where are these 2 politicians now? Do they have his back the way he had theirs?
These are by no means the only nor the harshest words coming from Israeli politicians when it comes to talking about left wing activists. This rhetoric has contributed to a climate where every tiny campaign initiated from abroad is given the status of a terror attack. This is a huge mistake, though it does provide a wonderful opportunity for ambitious politicians to speak harsh words and appear awfully like leaders…bad ones as it turns out.
Confronting unarmed activists is not the work that soldiers are trained to do and the fact that they are routinely sent to do just that reflects very poorly on the IDF high command, a high command which should not have been giving responsibility for dealing with such situations in the first place.
By sending Eisner to deal with a situation that was utterly anathema to the very spirit and mentality with which he had been imbibed, namely to aggressively seek out and destroy the enemy, the IDF let him down.
Eisner was not the first and will not be the last to feel the sting of behaving in a way that he thought was within the parameters of defending the country only to find that he was terribly wrong.
So with some swift, public relations justice, it has been made clear what is not acceptable. I hope that the IDF will take the time to ensure that the soldiers they send to deal with the inevitable further incidents of this kind will have been properly trained and properly equipped to deal with them, I have no doubt that they won’t. Doing so will require time, effort and money, it is much easier to punish every soldier who gets filmed doing something reprehensible.
And so the sun sets on another incident that makes the IDF look a little silly, a little immoral, a little out of control. Perhaps it’s time to build up the police force and give it responsibility for dealing with activists thereby allowing soldiers to concentrate on killing the enemy rather than babysitting spoilt kids from overseas?