For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Shoval - When violence is sophisticated
02 May '12..
One of the great political cartoonists of the 20th century, New Zealand-born David Low, created an illustration in the early 1940s showing a group of German "tourists" in Bavarian hats goose-stepping across the Yugoslav border. The implication was clear: The tourists were undercover Nazi agents whose goal was not rest and recreation, but rather to spy on and destabilize Yugoslavia ahead of a German invasion, which did indeed occur soon after the cartoon's publication.
I was reminded of this cartoon following the confrontation between Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade, and the group of "innocent" bicycle riders who tried to block the highway. Despite the differences in time and place, the intentions of these happy cyclists from abroad were no different than those of the tourists in the cartoon: to sabotage Israel's internal stability and pave the way for a blow to Israel's right to exist. Their signs saying "Welcome to Palestine" and "Israel, get the hell out of here," and even the Palestinian Liberation Organization flags they carried, all testified to their intentions.
When the media describe these activists or their counterparts at the weekly clashes with Israeli soldiers and police in Bil'in as "anarchists," they actually obscure the truth and make their lives easier. What unites these activists is political violence, as well as anti-Semitism and a negation of the Jewish state's right to exist. These organizations are backed by people and institutions, ranging from the neo-Nazi Right to the Left, who see no difference between Peace Now and hilltop youth. Both are equally invalid in their eyes because they are both part of the despised Jewish state.
It is clear that Eisner, who was in charge of law and order on the Jordan Valley highway, was wrong to hit the Danish provocateur. But Eisner is not the issue. The State of Israel had to take diplomacy and public relations issues into account in dealing with the incident. Eisner paid the immediate price. This does not exempt our state and society from dealing with the consequences and other aspects of the event. It is both Israel's right and obligation to protect itself from anyone who comes to aid and legitimize terror against it. This has nothing to do with human rights or free speech. The task is not simple, especially since this foreign subversion often also receives support from Israelis.
This mission requires a great deal of sophistication, intelligence and fieldwork, but it is not impossible. This war requires the use of both hard power and soft power. Terrorists and their collaborators have become very well-versed in the use of soft power. We need to get better at it as well. In the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead we were not sufficiently aware of the importance of real-time reporting and of the practical meaning of the maxim "a picture is worth a thousand words." But the Jordan Valley "cyclists" were very much aware of this, and made sure to bring along a team of photographers.
This raises another question: Did the Israel Defense Forces and other groups not have advance knowledge of the planned "Tour de Jordan Valley?" If they did, why weren't steps taken to stop it in its early stages? It is unfortunate that they do not send an IDF spokesperson to such events. Eisner has been punished. Let us hope that the IDF gives him the opportunity to rehabilitate himself, for his own benefit and that of the army. At this point, all relevant people should begin preparing for the next attempts at sabotage, which are probably already in the works.
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I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"