Monday, March 28

Guilty or Not Guilty of Murder?

The shooting of a Palestinian terrorist in a prone position lying on the ground poses a great moral issue. It has aroused the ire of the Coalition Government, including PM Benjamin Netanyahu, (who later backtracked according to reports) and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. On the other hand, Naftali Bennett, Education Minister supports the soldier who shot the prone terrorist.

Clip showing the soldier shaking hands with Kahanist Baruch Marzel after shooting
A Betzelem (the Human Rights Group) observer had filmed the incident which was broadcast on all Israel’s TV Channels and publicized on the social media and beyond. Had Betzelem not filmed this incident, it is doubtful if the soldier, who had shot the Palestinian terrorist after he had been rendered harmless, probably dying in the street would have created a stir in the media. The IDF would have investigated the incident and the soldier involved may have been let off the hook with cautionary warning. 

Contrary to what many Israelis think, Betzelem did a service to Israel and the IDF by filming the incident. It will give a clue as to what really happened as legal experts will use this vital information to see whether there is room for indictment of the soldier involved. The moment that evidence is hidden when it is available in order to “whitewash” a possible crime is in itself criminal.

The IDF protocol on using a weapon in order to kill is clear and acceptable by any standard. It prohibits soldiers from firing indiscriminately at an enemy when he/she does not endanger life.  We have no right to question or doubt IDF decisions on this issue. We have every right to support the IDF in carrying out its duty to protect Israel’s citizens from Palestinian terror. We have no right to support the soldier’s shooting a Palestinian terrorist, who has been rendered harmless by the IDF. The right wing politicians in the Israeli Coalition Government and even some rabbis have behaved irresponsibly in a case that is sub judice, in praising the soldier for carrying out an “act of heroism” which, according to the Betzelem film clip, does not appear to be the case.  Shooting a terrorist or murderous criminal who is unarmed and rendered harmless because of a whim whatever that may be is criminal.

Polls have been taken using samples of the Israeli electorate which show an overwhelming support for the soldier’s act. This is rather disappointing and is really indicative of the public’s support of vigilante actions against a Palestinian terrorist who is lying in a prone position on the ground.

One thing is certain and that is the Palestinian terrorist was no danger to anybody’s life when he was fatally shot by a soldier who was not authorized to do so. This is how the Betzelem film portrayed the situation. Betzelem had performed a positive service in this case in order that justice is done.

Friday, March 18

Is Breaking the Silence going Beyond its Aims?

Israel’s TV Channel 2 has been airing accusations that Breaking the Silence, the left wing NGO has been going beyond its aims of exposing human rights abuses of Palestinians by the IDF. There are reports claiming that it is also divulging military security secrets.
Gilad Ach, director of the right-wing 'Ad Kan' organization, in the West Bank (screen capture: Channel 2/Uvda)
The problem is that Ad Kan, a right wing organization,is involved in vigilante activity funded by the settler movement. Ad Can infiltrated Breaking the Silence to spy on them is sinister and smells of intrigue for political gain of the right wing Israeli Government. If the Shin Bet that is non-political did this acting on suspicion that military secrets were being disclosed to countries or groups hostile to Israel (there are no shortage of them), then this is justifiable. If Breaking the Silence violated security laws by extracting secret military information from soldiers’ testimonies they must be held accountable and charged in a court of law. Extracting military secrets and getting testimony on human rights abuses are not connected. The latter is justifiable while the former is treachery and is against the law.
Israel is faced with many problems that other countries in the western world do not face. Palestinian terrorists infiltrate daily and stab innocent Israelis because of a whim - very often a personal, psychological issue or even a family problem. Their stabbing and ramming innocent people with vehicles are not even connected to the occupation issue. It is connected to hate for Jews that even spills over into stabbing Arabs, who resemble Jews. The hate propaganda of the Hamas and PA leadership is in no way constructive in solving the conflict. It just exacerbates it. The praise for Palestinian terrorists and declaring them shuhada (martyrs) encourages them on the social media to carry on with their murders of innocent people. Apart from periodic Islamic State attacks in Europe, what other country has the security problems and an implacable “partner for peace” that has closed the door for any form of dialogue? The “implacable partners” have no interest in peace - their interest is Israel’s total destruction by their own admission as well as the personal enrichment of its leaders. The hackneyed “occupation” mantra used so much by BDS and other hostile anti-Israel organizations that are also anti-Semitic who are allies of the potential “liberators of Palestine” such as Hamas, Daesh and Salafi Islamists, are being served by those who divulge Israel’s military secrets.
The work of Breaking the Silence in gaining testimony on human rights abuses should not be viewed as treacherous but viewed as a watchdog to prevent human rights abuse by the military against innocent Palestinians if this is done without compromising on Israel’s security. This function should be performed by the IDF that would render this NGO redundant. However, this is not the case at present. The IDF and Breaking the Silence should cooperate with each other and information gleaned by Breaking the Silence should be referred to the legal dept of the IDF before the dirty washing is hung out in the streets in order to denigrate Israel even further.

At this stage an investigation will be undertaken by the legal authority on the issue of divulging military secrets by Breaking the Silence. It is inexcusable that this NGO serves the interest of Israel’s enemies. Most of the enemies wish to see Israel’s destruction and its replacement by an Islamic State that is monolithic and insensitive to human rights is not an option nor is it justifiable on a moral basis.

Wednesday, March 9

Israeli Arab Leaders Defending Hezbollah

"The policies that the Israeli political establishment is pursuing [are] leading us all into a dead end," says Odeh [Ayman Odeh's campaign]
It does not seem logical let alone very destructive for the Arab leaders of the Joint List in the Knesset to proclaim that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization. The Balad and Hadash factions in this list are pressurizing the Joint Arab List to support Hezbollah and legitimize it. What is the purpose of doing this? Hezbollah has a history of firing rockets into Israel and injuring Arab citizens of Israel as well. Rockets fired into Israel kill and destroy and make no distinction between Jews and Arabs. In this respect it is not apartheid-friendly.

The Joint List is the third largest party in the Knesset. It is in the unique position of representing the Arab Israeli minority’s interests and fighting for equality with its Jewish counterparts in Israel. There is much that can be done in that sphere. Combating social and work discrimination as well as improving socio-economic conditions for the Arab community they represent is a formidable task. It should work in improving relations between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel and acting as a bridge between the two communities. Ayman Oudeh, the Joint List leader prior to his election to the Knesset, appeared to move along the path of coexistence, promoting dialogue between the communities  and certainly deserved support for taking the line of tolerance in outreach.

What has happened to Oudeh? Why is he not showing the leadership qualities for which he was elected? He is being led into a direction which is creating distrust between his party and Jewish Israelis. He is not forthcoming in representing his electorate’s interests of coexistence and socio-economic improvement as well as integration into being Israel Citizens with equal human rights and dignity that the Arab Citizens of Israel are entitled. The Balad factions of his party are pandering to the peers of Palestinian terrorists, who come into Israel on lone stabbing sprees. Instead he and his party are antagonizing Jewish Israelis as well as many Arab Israelis by wasting unnecessary energy on standing to attention and sympathizing with parents of Palestinian terrorists whose sons and daughters were killed while committing terrorist acts. This is no way to gain the trust of Jewish and Arab Israelis. 

Added to the behavior of the Joint List, which seems to represent Palestinian interests in the Knesset rather than Israeli Arab interests by the rhetoric in support of viewing Hezbollah as a movement devoid of terrorism creates an unnecessary schism between Arabs and Jews in Israel.

If he wishes to regain the trust of Jewish Israelis as well as many Arab Israelis, who have also suffered at the hand of Palestinian terror, he should retract the statement declaring Hezbollah as not being a terrorist movement and be more forthcoming in condemning Palestinian terror against innocent citizens by not getting involved in returning terrorist Palestinian corpses to their families. There are channels in Israel whereby this is being done without Joint List sympathy and activity.