Human rights and wrongs

One of the movements operating within the framework of the Institute for Zionist Strategies that I head is the ‘Blue and White’ Human Rights Movement.

The movement was founded by the Institute Chairman, Dr. Yoaz Hendel, out of a view according to which the field of Palestinians’ human rights cannot be surrendered exclusively to the left-wing of the political spectrum and be addressed only in relation to the narrative of the occupation.

The same view advocates that the security checkpoints between Israel and Judea & Samaria should not be supervised only by human rights activists, hostile to IDF soldiers and towards the security officers and personnel working at the checkpoints, especially while the same activists simultaneously actively aid smear campaigns and delegitimization of Israel both locally and abroad.

‘Blue and White’ Human Rights coordinates groups of volunteers who, with sunrise, make their way to different checkpoints in order to observe their activity. Working together with the IDF and the police authorities in order to improve operations at the checkpoint, the volunteers distribute flyers in Arabic to the Palestinians passing through the crossing and offer them assistance in various medical and bureaucratic fields.

Our checkpoint activity generates a significant number of applications for assistance, a large portion of which we successfully and effective help.

In addition, we guide tours in the areas around the checkpoints and the borderlines and tell the story of the complex reality on the ground.
We take care not to tell of “good” and “bad” and do not present a rose-colored picture against the backdrop of a golden sunset.

This week, I visited one of the checkpoints with the ‘Blue and White’ Human Rights team.

While listening to the briefing and explanations from the security officers on duty at the checkpoint, an unbelievable scene was played out in front of my eyes.

A good-looking woman arrived at the checkpoint. From listening to her, I understood that she had arrived there in order to transport a Palestinian child to medical treatment. She stood at the checkpoint in an area that was intended to remain clear of pedestrians and the security forces on duty at the checkpoint asked her to move a little to the side so as not to stand in a restricted area.

From that moment, the woman was suddenly transformed into a combination of a snake and a wild animal and proceeded to growl venomously at the security personnel: “So, you are the ones with the power? Do you enjoy having power? Are you trying to show your power over me?” She repeated these questions over and over again leaving no doubt as to her hostility and hate.

And all the while, the security officer quietly and politely refrained from relating to what she said, repeating his request for her to move.

At this stage, the child she had been waiting for arrived and her voice suddenly changed, her face lit up, and she cheerfully left the checkpoint area together with the child and his parents.

After she left, I spoke to one of the security officers. “I have been working here for several years and I have gradually taught myself to swallow my tongue and not react to the insults hurled at us. What you witnessed now is nothing, we experience much worse behavior and language, not to mention what the regular soldiers serving at the checkpoints have to endure. You have no idea.”

A quick search of the internet reveals that Border Police soldiers testified that on the morning of the terror attack in Har Adar, a left-wing “human rights” activist had shouted “you are an embarrassment” at Solomon Gavriya, one of the soldiers on duty there, only a short time before he was murdered. Although the activist subsequently strongly denied this, journalist Yifat Erlich wrote on her Facebook page that she had been seen talking to Gavriya for 40 minutes on the morning of the murder. Following the murder, the activist expressed sorrow for the deaths of 4 people: Solomon Gavriya, Yusuf Othman and Or Arish who were murdered in the attack and also, for the death of the terrorist.

I am coming to the conclusion that maybe the security forces deserve two medals for valor: one for their silence and restraint in the face of the humiliations and curses they incur from the left-wing activists and a second medal for continuing their task – protecting us and preventing terror attacks – despite the constant disturbances and distractions they are forced to experience.

This surely constitutes a phenomenon that no logic can explain – it is inconceivable that the same left-wing activist I met, embodies so much compassion for Palestinians alongside so much hatred towards the IDF soldiers. This is no less inconceivable than the members of Rabbi Auerbach’s ‘Jerusalem faction’ who claim their great love of the Torah and God while trampling values such as respect for others, gratitude, and the prohibitions against wasting time and damaging property.

I propose that in this era of ‘fake news’, a new expression be coined: ‘fake personality’. Because surely anyone embodying such contradictory values and feelings either suffers from a split personality or is simply fake. One big fake.

About the Author
Miri Shalem is CEO of the Institute for Zionist Strategies and an activist for social change for women. Her activities in this field include organizing the national dance conference for Orthodox women and initiating a flashmob protest by Bet Shemesh women against gender segregation in the public space. She worked to establish a women's counseling center in Beit Shemesh, for which she won the Yaffa London Award in 2012. Prior to her current position, Miri was the Director of the Ramat Beit Shemesh Community Center where she was the founder and the chairperson of the city's Women's Council. Two years ago, she was one of the heads of the campaign of Eli Cohen, a mayoral candidate in Bet Shemesh. Miri is a board member at Kolech and Shaharit and a columnist for "Makor Rishon". She is also a member of President Reuven Rivlin's "Israeli hope" steering committee. She has a BA in Economics and Political Science and an MA in Gender Studies. Miri has lived in Beit Shemesh for almost twenty years and, despite the city's difficulties, reaffirms daily her choice to stay there and continue her activism. She is married and a mother of 4.
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