What You Can Learn About Activism From “David The Nachlawi”

Three years ago it was cottage cheese, now it’s “David the Nachlawi”.

It’s always surprising what types of content will go viral, what sorts of causes will gain a mass following.

The current wave of protests revolves around the alleged disciplinary steps that have been taken by the Israeli military against one specific soldier named David, who serves in the Nachal Brigade (members of this brigade are affectionately referred to as “Nachlawi”s).

This occurred after a video was publicized showing David cocking his gun and pointing it at a Palestinian youth while on guard duty in the city of Hebron, after he was surrounded by several menacing teenagers, one which was purportedly wearing brass knuckles.

When word spread that David had been sent to military prison as a result of his actions, a spontaneous wave of protest arose on Facebook. A page devoted to the cause quickly garnered over 130 thousand likes, and hundreds of people posted images of themselves with signs declaring “I stand with David the Nachlawi”.

The Israel/Palestinian conflict is more in the hearts and minds of the combatants than it is anywhere else, and it seems that this campaign has represented an important boost to Israel and its representatives in the field.

Despite the IDF’s attempts to quell this type of protest, many soldiers also participated in the ad-hoc campaign – some hiding their faces and others brazenly identifying themselves, daring the army to take action against them.

Posted by ‎גם אני עם דוד הנחלאווי‎ on Thursday, 1 May 2014

Even after the IDF spokesperson explained that David had not been jailed because of that incident, but rather because of an unrelated disciplinary issue, there was no notable change in the level of protest. David’s story had touched a raw nerve and had brought to the forefront an issue that soldiers face daily in the course of their service.

The military has very strict laws related to branding weapons, opening fire and defending oneself against perceived threats. Soldiers are only supposed to use their weapons when their lives are in danger. This policy stems from the strong backlash and condemnation that Israel gets from the world media every time an Arab is killed, regardless of the circumstances.

The result is that Israel launches extensive investigations every time a soldier opens fire and certainly if a Palestinian is hurt or killed – soldiers know this, and the fear of a drawn-out legal battle and possible incarceration results in soldiers not opening fire even when their lives are in danger.

the following video, created and posted by the afore mentioned Facebook group, details several examples of these types of threats soldiers face; for example, the case of a soldier caught in inside a burning pillbox for 15 minutes as Arabs pelt his position with stones.

ליקטנו תיעודים, כתבות ותמונות והכנו לכם סרטון במטרה לנסות להמחיש לכם ולנסות להכניס אתכם לראש החייל הכבול הנמצא בשטח…

Posted by ‎גם אני עם דוד הנחלאווי‎ on Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The perceived injustice – although supposedly incorrect, if the IDF spokesperson is to be believed – was still enough to spark the rage of thousands of soldiers who feel the IDF polices put their lives in danger and leaves them helpless to the constant animosity, threats, and abuse from Arabs that they encounter on a daily basis.

Similar stories of soldiers’ lives being threatened with little response from the IDF began to service, and were given public platform on the page devoted to the cause. According to the page, several positive results have begun to emerge as a result of the protest, seemingly stemming from a change in attitude from soldiers themselves – who feel empowered by the public show of support for their cause- more than from an official policy change on the military’s part.

Another video posted by the Facebook page details examples of soldiers “taking action” against threats they would have cowered from in the past – dispersing invasive reporters and quelling provocateurs. The Israel/Palestinian conflict is more in the hearts and minds of the combatants than it is anywhere else, and it seems that this campaign has represented an important boost to Israel and its representatives in the field.

# כוחנו באחדותנו!השפעת המחאה: החיילים בשטח מפסיקים לחשוש ומתחילים להגיב.באירועים רבים התחילו החיילים להגיב…

Posted by ‎גם אני עם דוד הנחלאווי‎ on Tuesday, 13 May 2014

There are several practical things you can learn from this event:

1. Other people care about issues just as much as you do. those issues that bother you on a daily basis? Those injustices that you see in the world? Chances are that other people are bothered by the same thing.

All it takes is one person taking initiative to create a massive voice for change. David’s page was created by a single individual, a farmer with no social media experience. Yet through strength of his conviction and indignation, he was able to galvanize thousands of people to his cause. Which brings us to the next point:

2. The power of storytelling. As we speak about constantly at BOMAH, storytelling is the best way to transmit your message and inspire others. It is the most personal means of conveying what is important to you, and it allows other people to resonate with the shared emotions that underlay it.

There is no doubt that it was the personal, relatable element behind David’s story that inspired such a strong response from the Israeli public, and it was the outpouring of similar stories from others that has allowed the protest to continue.

3. Virality is not logical. Why David? Why now? As anyone who tries to “make a viral video” knows, there is no magical formula for viral growth. One day Charlie will bite your finger and no one will know about it, the next day you might parade through the streets like an imbecile and get over a billion views.

 Practically speaking, this means that you should never be afraid to share or pass on a personal story or value that you are passionate about. You never know what sort of impact it might have, and you never know when you will be the first of 133,206 people who believe the same thing you do.

with david



About the Author
Shalom Tzvi Shore is a hypnotherapist and web designer who keeps finding himself struggling with life's biggest questions. All the views expressed in this blog are his personal ones, and do not reflect the opinions of any organisation he works for. In fact, very few people agree with anything he has to say.