The media firestorm over Israeli Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner never seems to end. It all started when video was posted of Eisner violently striking a protester with his rifle, sparking outrage throughout the world. Immediately, the video was shown as proof of Israeli brutality. But is this really a fair depiction?
Eisner was immediately condemned by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff. The Israeli media relentlessly covered the incident. He was suspended, has been banned from holding command posts for two years, was reassigned to a training school and is still under investigation. It is very possible that he will face further punishment.
That is the real story here. Israel’s furious reaction to the video debunks what its enemies claim it proves. If the Israelis were so inhumane, this wouldn’t be such a big story. There is no other country in the Middle East that would react the same way if roles were reversed. Ironically, the controversy is showing what is so good about Israel, even if no one notices.
Some context is also needed here. A group of about 250 anti-Israel activists were stopped as they tried to get on Highway 90, as the IDF requires advance notice of such crossings as a security precaution. Keep in mind, the group was part of the International Solidarity Movement, a group that says it is non-violent but supports “the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggles.” In other words, ISM supportsviolence.
The ISM-affiliated group began illegally blocking the road and the stand-off continued for two hours. The Israeli soldiers didn’t open fire or forcibly disperse them. Eisner was assaulted, breaking two of his fingers. You can see his bandaged fingers in the video. After a Danish anarchist got in his face, Eisner lost his temper and whacked him in the face with his rifle. The ISM got what it wanted, all on tape. A second video surfaced, showing Eisner hitting some others as they tried to force their way past the Israeli soldiers.
The founders of the ISM sought to supplement the jihadists’ violent campaign with a political and psychological campaign. Lee Kaplan, an expert on the ISM and founder of StoptheISM.com, says that a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group designated by the U.S. as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, was instrumental in its creation. His website describes the group as “a front group for Yasser Arafat’s PLO and its affiliated Palestinian terrorist groups, such as the PFLP and Hamas. It works in conjunction with the Palestinian Authority’s propaganda ministries by Saudi funding through the Muslim Students Association on our U.S. and Canadian campuses.”
In 2002, two of the ISM’s cofounders, Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro, said, “We accept the Palestinians have a right to resist with arms” and that fighting Israel must be “both non-violent and violent.” Arraf publicly stated that her group coordinates with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The ISM has intimate ties to the Palestine Solidarity Movement, which recruits students in the U.S. and Europe to go to the Palestinian territories.
In October 2011, Arraf confirmed her support for violence against Israel, saying, “We focus on providing support for the Palestinian unarmed resistance, not because we take a hostile view to the armed resistance, but rather because we believe that unarmed resistance is strategically more advantageous to Palestinians.” To be fair, she did add that “armed resistance MUST adhere to international law.”
Arraf is also the chairman of the Free Gaza Movement, which organized the Turkish flotilla provocation of 2010. The list of its allies is telling. The ISM with an Islamist group called the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) that has ties to terrorist groups to arrange the flotilla. The ship where the violence occurred had members of the Muslim Brotherhood on board, as well. The incident was designed to ambush Israel and create a violent incident, in accordance with the ISM’s strategy.
Arraf is also on the board of advisors for KinderUSA. The Investigative Project on Terrorism reports that it was formed in 2002 by two top officials with the Holy Land Foundation very shortly after their group was shut down for financing Hamas. That year, KindHearts gave $20,000 to KinderUSA. In 2006, the U.S. government froze KindHearts’ assets because it is “the progeny of the Holy Land Foundation and Global Relief Foundation, which attempted to mask their support for terrorism behind the faÃ§ade of charitable giving.”
Eisner wasn’t right in what he did. He played right into the ISM’s hands, but there’s another way of looking at this story. He may not have made Israel look so great, but the aftermath did. No other country in the region would have reacted with such furor. No other country would have cared that a member of a violence-supporting group was assaulted after provoking a soldier.
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