Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Fear and loathing at IDF checkpoints: There is nothing more fitting than to fight fire with fire - by Douglas Altabef

The idea that foreign nationals are allowed to harass soldiers protecting their own country seems inconceivable, yet until recently it has been a common Israeli reality, devoid of pushback.

Douglas Altabef..
12 March '19..

A critical function of the Israel Defense Forces is to secure borders and sensitive locations, in addition to the transition points in and through such areas.

Guard duty is deceptively routine and simple. Like other military functions, most of the time there is a familiar routine that can seem mind-numbing to the casual observer.

However, the trained soldier knows all too well that the seemingly mundane and insignificant can be a ruse—a cover for something intended to be deadly. Therefore, vigilance and skepticism are part of a checkpoint soldier’s professional DNA.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see groups, often from Europe, hovering around checkpoints with a very different orientation and objective from those who come to support soldiers with pizzas and good wishes. These folks come with loathing, and an unvarnished hatred of who the soldiers are and what they are doing.

These people are there to play the game of “gotcha.” They come armed with video cameras, often planted just inches from the face of the guarding soldier, and hope to catch the soldier doing something—anything—that can, out of context, look like some heinous act.

Whether it’s a scowl at an uncooperative Palestinian passing through a checkpoint or an attempt to search a suspicious-looking person, there are ample opportunities to create a context in which the soldier appears to be the personification of an oppressive Israel.

This is cynical manipulation, but sadly, with the Internet, social media, and Photoshop and other apps, we live in a world increasingly filled with such out of context videography.

Yet the situation at a checkpoint is far more fraught with risk, rather than just embarrassment from manipulated misrepresentation.

There are life-and-death implications at checkpoints, and no one knows that better than the soldiers on duty. Besides obtrusive and invasive cameras, there is often verbal harassment as young soldiers are being demonized for doing their duty.

(Continue to Full Column)

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